It is September and although this month rewarded us with really great weather and an unexpected late summer, we have to admit that summertime and – even worse – the time of Summer Universities is over. But what comes after those two weeks in which you are surrounded by Aeggeans every minute and forget your everyday life? How can you deal with suddenly being alone again? The AEGEEan asked around to find out how to best deal with Post Event Syndrome (PES).
Agoras, Network Meetings (NWM), Summer Universities (SU), European Schools (ES)… Our international network offers many different and interesting events for everybody who is interested. Especially during the summertime thousands of AEGEEans are travelling through Europe to take part in SUs.
The time shared with others is exciting and offers so much: new experiences, new friends, and so much to learn! It is an exciting ride of a few days or weeks, during which you might experience more new insights than you normally do in months. Most importantly, you get to know people and you get to know them well.
Carolina Alfano from AEGEE-Salarno sums it up as follows: “Adrenaline! During the event everything happens so fast: a lot of things to do, not much time, a lot of people, friends, parties. In this way the adrenaline is on top“.
After spending days after days together, at first shyly playing some energisers together, but a few days after sharing the most intimate stories – you built friendships that will last a lifetime. But, at the end of every event, stands the dreaded moment of saying good-bye. You see your new friends waving while you step into the bus to the airport. You then come home to your empty flat, where you are alone and where it is just too quiet to deal with.
“When you understand you are at home, no gym, no friends, nothing to do tomorrow, you start to be depressed, you climb up in your bed and the only thing you want to do is start to sleep”, Carolina says.
Tekla Hajdu, Network Director, has also experienced this feeling. She tells us that it does not matter whether it is a fun or even a serious thematic event, you can always be sad after an event you organised. “Most of the times, I felt kind of depressed and I wanted to go back immediately to be part of the event again and have more adventures with the participants and the organisers”, Tekla says.
Some know that feeling from events outside of AEGEE too. Carolina, for example, experienced something similar after her Erasmus semester. Erika Bettin, AEGEE-Verona, was an exchange student a while back and had more trouble keeping in touch back then, because Facebook was not yet even a thing. This made the situation even worse.
But what about the worst cases of PES when it comes to AEGEE-events? Tekla shares: “I had some bad PES cases after my Network Meetings as Network Commissioner, but my personal worst was after pre-event EPM Leiden: I’ll be AmsterDamned, as apart from missing the people and the memories from the event I also had to go back to my university for an intensive course instead of proceeding to the EPM, which had me really depressed”. Erika’s personal worst case was after Agora Cagliari in 2014: “Once back home it took me more than two weeks to get back to reality, to start to adapt again to my old routine, to even start sleeping properly“.
In the end, while taking part in an event, you live in a “bubble” as Erika calls it: “You feel comfortable, you feel protected and you feel loved”. You meet people who think similarly, discover Europe and dream together about making it an even better place. Suddenly coming home and realising that it was just a time-limited bubble, that reality and daily routine have you back is the reason for feeling so bad afterwards. Because it was just so good before.
Moreover, Tekla already mentioned that people who are a big factor too when it comes to PES. You get to know the other participants so well and you experience a lot together. “When the event ends, I think people start to realise that these moments will never be repeated in the same way with the same people again”. It therefore actually is saying good-bye forever, at least in that group dynamic. The important question remains: is there a way to deal with it?
Carolina shares with us that when she felt bad after the end of an event, she just kept to herself in the house for two or three days. But then she “decided to be strong and go out for a walk, call some friends, restart my normal life”. It is you who has to find the right moment to motivate yourself to get up again. Carolina continues: “There will be other events in the future, time is running out and staying powerless is not a solution“.
Erika has a positive attitude too: “The important thing is to keep in mind that in AEGEE and in life there are only ‘see-you-soons’ and never ‘good-byes’. Eventually everybody is going to see each other one more time. You should sleep, turn off the alarm and then try to come back to your old routine as fast as possible.”
Similarly, Tekla agrees that time heals all wounds. She is sure that after some time your symptoms will decline naturally. Especially of course, if you don’t have a lot of time to be nostalgic since you have to start working again. She gives us a great advise: “Look forward and plan your next adventure to have more awesome memories”!
Written by Katja Sontag, AEGEE-Aachen