When I was a student I was very active in international student events. Conferences, festivals, workshops, you name it and I was there. The year 2003 was an especially busy year. I went to a festival in Norway, a workshop in Italy and finally to EASA (European Architecture Students Assembly) near Aarhus, Denmark. Those events not only widened my horizons but made travelling easy.
Unlike all other events I attended, I didn’t plan this one. Normally a student leader would choose its group of students to represent a university through internal competition of any kind. In case of my university a girl who was leading the group decided to invite friends and acquaintances to a secret meeting where they chose people by picking their numbers from a hat. Strange circumstances brought me and my friends to the room where the draw was taking place and my name was picked. I don’t think it was the best way to choose the group, but would you complain if you were me?
The fortunate thing was that my friend Nevenka was chosen too so I didn’t have to go through all the suffering called travelling all by myself. Thanks to another attendee we received free Interrail tickets for the whole month so visiting Denmark wasn’t enough; we stopped in Paris on our way there.
After five days of travelling we arrived in Denmark’s second largest city Aarhus to the welcoming ceremony. The ceremony took place in the beautiful Aarhus city hall, a masterpiece of functionalistic architecture, were we met most of our fellow international colleagues and forged our first friendships. We then went to Friland, a small place 30km away from Aarhus, where the assembly was to happen. We slept in Ozark trail 4 person tents on a big field with a forest around, and had lectures and parties in a nearby school.
While the event is called assembly, we spent most of the time in workshops on topics that varied from antiglobalization to recycling, building sustainable houses and even a hovercraft. I participated in a Land Art workshop where we had to create sculptures with natural materials from the forest. It was rather challenging, and we didn’t achieve much, but at least we had a lot of fun!
I remember orange tents, a nice manicured forest, the clear blue sea, jellyfish, an abandoned fortress, hummocks, shells, sawdust, hay, mud, green grass and laughter, singing and dancing, lots of it. I don’t remember if I learned much from this event, I remember emotions. Student exchanges are just like travelling, perhaps you don’t learn much in a conventional way, but the experience is worth an entire world.