AEGEE

Looking at Europe with the Eyes of a Student: AEGEE

I have always been fond of international student organizations because I tend to think that such organizations are sort of like ‘experience packages’ through which you add a lot of new values to yourself, discover your true self and destroy your stereotypes. The actualy beautiful part of this, as it occurs to me, is that thanks to such organizations, travelling becomes obligatory. When I say obligatory, you may love it or hate it. But think about it, a student organization and the obligation to travel… What could it cause? Of course, BUDGET TRAVEL!!! Exactly why we have started blogging! In this article, we introduce you a student organization that is able to surround your life with different cultures, forums, work groups and above all, travel… AEGEE! 

aegee

What is AEGEE?

The student organization AEGEE just fits our definition in the above paragraph. In the first glance, most people would think of the same thing, ‘What is AEGEE?’. Here is what i stands for: “Association des États Généraux des Étudiants de l’Europe”. In English, you could say “European Students’ Forum”. Having been established in 1985 in Paris, France, the aim of the group is to create an economically and politically integrated, democratic, diverse and limitless Europe that involves the youth in its formation and development. With that aim, the organization serves to create opportunities for young people to get together in education, discussion or representation environments, as well as to have European peoples come closer! Of course, AEGEE does it on the basis of ‘youth mobility’. We’ve been talking about budget travel, haven’t we?

Which part of the world does AEGEE cover? How many people does it appeal to? 

You will have to read a boring list of countries if we attempt to count them all. For that reason, you just put the map of Europe in front of yu and draw a circle that passes through Scotland, Azerbaijan, Finland and Malta. This is where AEGEE appeals to (except for Syria, Iraq and Iran, including Armenia and Azerbaijan) its 13.000 members. We also have to say that the organization, operating in 40 countries and 200 cities, continuously expands.

Aegee Ofisleri
Map of Aegee Offices

What kind of activities AEGEE organizes?

As a matter of fact, it would not be wrong to state that AEGEE activities are unlimited. But if were to gather them under headings, we could order them from the serious and sensitive ones to activities that involve more fun.

1. Discussion Forums

Discussion forums are predominanatly organized by work groups during AGORA’s, massive meetings (1000+ people) that are held in different destinations in Europe twice a year. Speakers give their speeches related to the agenda, questions are asked and solutions are provided. Some hot debates may be come across with in those.

2. Representation and Lobbying

Here, the aim is to announce the common decision of 13.000 members in public, preferably to institutions that have a say in the international community. These institutions can sometimes be as important as the European Commission.

3. Personal Development and Education

Another aim of AEGEE is to develop its members’ leadership, team management and communication skills through a series of courses, workshops and such activities. This way, the organization strives to create more active and productive (I don’t like the word pro-active, sounds kinda lame to me). Such programs, requiring hard work and participation, also take place in numerous places in Europe and the members can join any one they like.

4. Thematic Projects

Thematic projects actually have a similar basis with the Youth in Action program of the EU. A group of members work on a particular subject (for a week or three months, it depends on the project) and create a product. In most cases, the theme is something that would also attract at least the local press. It can be anything from saving a tree to a consciousness creating project on violence against females.

5. Cultural Exchance

Lastly, cultural exchange programs, as you may guess, include a truckload of students going to a country to meet the  culture, get to know its people and seeing the sights. The aim of cultural exchanges is to increase tolerance and respect, as well as making new friends and tearing down stereotypes.

It is generally possible to join a cultural exchange any time of the year anywhere in Europe. But one of them I’d like to call the best: Summer University. 

aegee - yaz üniversitesi

What is an AEGEE – Summer University?

An AEGEE – Summer University is a type of event taking place in any city with an AEGEE office (an antenna in the jargon), which lasts for 1 to 4 weeks. Through Summer Universities, AEGEE hopes to create open-minded individuals who can understand and explore the cultural diversity of Europe, as well as working off the effects of national boundries.

The content of a summer university may vary from an intensive Dutch course to the history of Spain. Even a huge phography tour in Turkey! Throughout the event, the members can taste local food, dance to local music and experience the local life. At nights, they can also try out the local clothes as well the drinks! Fun, isn’t it?

Where do they stay?

Accommodation is provided by the organizing AEGEE unit. You can stay at the local members places as well as hostels or dormitories.

What about transportation?

Owing to the fact the Summer Universities are organized by AEGEE offices whose income comes from insignificant membership fees, the participants cover their travel expenses themselves.

Do I have to pay for a Summer University? 

Yes, and no. Because the typical fee you have to pay for a 2-week Summer University is 150 Euros. For that fee, you get accommodation, meals, city tours and many others for 15 days. So it is safe to say they are more than cheap.

How many people participate in Summer Universities? Who can participate?

20 to 50 participants are accepted to each of the Summer Universities. If you think the number is too low, think again, because there are 200 cities, which means the number of potential participants to be accepted each year is 10.000!

Who can participate actually depends. Because you can apply to 3 different Summer Universities within the specified dates and you have to send them motivation letters, including why you want to go there and why you prefer that event over the others. But don’t take it as an interview procedure, because there are way too many events already and you are accepted quickly as long as there’s room for another participant. However, if you apply to the most popular spots, your motivation letter may be evaluated thoroughly.

Aegee - Yaz Üniversitesi Geceleri
AEGEE – Summer University Night

Do I need a visa for a Summer University? 

It depends on the diplomatic relations of your home country and the one you want to go to. AEGEE cannot provide you with visa-free travel if the residents of your country are required a visa for entry.

But leave questions like ‘Can I get a visa?’ or ‘What if I get refused?’ aside. Because AEGEE is an officially recognized organization and when you are accepted for an event, you can easily get an invitation letter, resulting in a visa in a couple of days. My first travel abroad was for an AEGEE event and obtaining my Schengen visa lasted less than 48 hours, thanks to the papers they sent me.

As a conclusion, AEGEE can provide you with a serious political environment, travel, fun and even a job (Yes, the representatives elected in AGORA’s are transferred to Brussels, Belgium for a couple of years). If you are interested, you can find the nearest AEGEE local on www.aegee.org and become a member! There’s no AEGEE local nearby? Why don’t you start one?

Summary
Looking at Europe with the Eyes of a Student: AEGEE / Avrupa'ya Öğrenci Gözüyle Bakmak: AEGEE
Article Name
Looking at Europe with the Eyes of a Student: AEGEE / Avrupa'ya Öğrenci Gözüyle Bakmak: AEGEE
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Looking at Europe with the Eyes of a Student: AEGEE / Avrupa'ya Öğrenci Gözüyle Bakmak: AEGEE
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