The AEGEE House, located in Brussels, is not just a place to stay for AEGEE members, but also functions as the home and office of the Comité Directeur. To be exact, half of the first floor is devoted to the working environment of the members of the Comité Directeur, and two employees. Although a big part of the house functions as an office, it does not mean it is boring! Find out some fun facts about the house you may not know yet.
No one knows exactly why, but it is a common known fact that things disappear and appear again in the house at any given time. Most notably, and also most curiously, one of these items is a great number of forks from the kitchen pantry, leading to many jokes about the ‘fork shortage’ and creative ways to eat dinner. Forks are not the only thing disappearing though – it also happened before that clothes disappeared over night and were found back in another room – or even another floor – of the house. Besides objects disappearing, there are also some that suddenly appear, sometimes more randomly than otherwise. Objects found during this year, for example, were a bell with a print of Queen Elizabeth and a toy horse. Although both of them are used every now and then by guests, it is not clear how, when or why they showed up in the house in the first place.
Behold, the Basement
Aside from items, people also disappear inside the house. For some, so far, unexplained reason people suddenly vanish, only to turn up in the building’s basement. Not much is known of the cause for, or the reason behind, this inexplicable journey to the dark, private, cosy and secluded subterranean chamber of the house. It might be to discover more of the archives, which are also located in the basement and full of interesting materials, varying from old posters (all the way back to the founding period of AEGEE) to funny pictures of past Comité Directeurs or folders full of old letters sent across the Network. This is not the only attraction in the basement though, because those who are curious will also encounter an oil tank with 2000 litres of oil in it to provide everyone with heating. There is a small room under the stairs in Harry Potter style full of cables, computers and other IT tools, and behind the archives you can find a small, mysterious room that can only be entered through a little hall behind the archives, which is actually located right underneath the garden.
Embedded in the garden wall of the house, there is a large stone with inscriptions in cuneiform. None of the CD members know who put it there or why, or even so much what the cuneiform tablet means. Could it be an inscription of one of the ancient kings of Assyria, Babylon or Persia; Ashurbanipal, Nebuchadnezzar II or Cyrus the Great? Perhaps it could be part of the epic of Gilgamesh or the codex of Hammurabi. We don’t know, just like we don’t know the origin of a series of round tablets with Roman faces embedded in the wall next to the cuneiform tablet.
Beware the Oak
The AEGEE House lies on the ‘Notelaarstraat’ in Brussels. A ‘notelaar’, in Dutch, is a kind of oak tree, of which, like all other oak trees, one should be wary. Ancient tales warn a man or woman about sleeping underneath an oak tree, for in the best case they will have a prophetic dream, but in the worst they will never wake up again or will be visited by the devil. Part of this myth probably originated from the fact that the soil around many oak trees seems to become barren. This is because oak leaves are great at blocking out sunlight and their large roots out-compete other plants, like grasses, for water and nutrients. It is not known if the members of the Comité Directeur have prophetic dreams, although we can confirm that they do wake up in the morning.
While the decoration in the garden can best be explained as ‘curious’, the most suitable word for the decoration inside the house would probably be ‘royal’ or simply ‘beautiful’. The house is not only big, even though you would not say so from the outside, it is also heavily decorated, having chandeliers in many rooms and even Roman pillars in the entrance hall, probably indicating other ways the house was used in the past.
Don’t Lock the Doors
Do not try to lock any of the doors behind you in the house, for you cannot. The only door with a working key is the downstairs toilet. All other doors, including those of toilets and bathrooms, are closed in the good fate that they will not be opened. Any open door you may enter, while a closed one is forbidden from being opened without permission. After all, once you open a door, you can never un-see the image that has touched your eye. So please, next time you visit the house… knock.
Written by Willem Laurentzen, AEGEE-Nijmegen, and Svenja van der Tol, Comité Directeur