Feeling like an easy and fun read? Well, here is the piece you’ve been waiting for, which I would like to call ‘The long journey of Annelies to Izmir’.
Let’s go back in time, to February 5th 2019. My partner-in-EPM-crime Charley and I arrived fully packed at Schiphol, where our adventure to our very first European Planning Meeting was about to begin. Our flight was leaving at 1 AM, so when we arrived at the airport at 11 PM, we had enough time to do what we love most: eating french fries at McDonalds. After gaining 3 kilos, it was time to lose those calories by walking to our gate. Up until this point, surprisingly, nothing went wrong for me.
Are you familiar with the feeling, while waiting at a gate, that adventure lies ahead? That you will trade the cold Netherlands for someplace warmer? That you will finally be able to get some sleep during the flight? That’s exactly how I felt during that very moment. But here it goes: my boarding pass wouldn’t scan, so my presence was requested at the service desk.
Service desk: “Ma’am, I’m afraid you’re not on this flight. Are you sure you booked the right one?”.
“I’m pretty sure, yes”, I said as confidently as possible while feeling various forms of anxiety.
Service desk: “Let me check”. “Hm.” “Well, it looks like you were on the same flight yesterday, on February 5. It’s 1 AM now, making it February 6.” “I’m sorry Ma’am, there is nothing I can do for you”.
I’m the kind of person who likes to double check everything, at least, when it comes down to AEGEE related stuff. The fact that 1 AM was on February 6, and not on February 5, never crossed my mind. I was obligated to say goodbye to Charley, who did manage to book the right ticket, leaving me all alone at Schiphol. I was escorted to the departure hall by the military police, where, once again, I was the only soul left alive. The first 5 minutes I really needed to calm myself down; what were my options really? There were no trains leaving to Groningen anymore, so I decided to call every hotel in the neighbourhood. Surprise, every hotel, at least the ones that wouldn’t have cost me 300 euros, was fully booked because of some kind of conference in the city. I tried calling every contact I had in Amsterdam, but they were either fast asleep (or maybe pretending to because they didn’t feel like having a good convo with their girl Annelies at 1:30 AM), or they were out of town.
In the meantime, I made peace with my stupid self, and decided to chill at the 24h Starbucks. I looked for the earliest options to go to Izmir for the next day, and at 1 PM Turkish Airlines still could get me there, with a way too expensive ticket. However, I was determined to experience my first EPM, so one missed flight wouldn’t get me down. I booked the flight and still needed to fill up the upcoming 10 hours I had left. I made friends with the Starbucks barista, he gave me free coffee and he was a really good listener. Also, Schiphol became a little more red than its usual self that night, as putting AEGEE-Groningen stickers everywhere was a good way to pass the time for me.
Anyways, let’s jump to the conclusion of this story: everything will always turn out fine. It will leave you with a fun story to tell and some new friends. Maybe the most important part: Turkish Airlines had a TV screen and supplied me with a lot of food, so Charley, who was the real winner here?
To end on an educational note, not only the journey to the EPM was an adventure, the EPM itself was definitely one as well. ‘Sustainability’ was the general theme during the EPM, creating more awareness amongst participants for this important matter. The programme during the day consisted of interactive lectures and workshops, about for instance ‘how to be a global citizen’ or ‘the relationship between Turkey and the EU’. Furthermore, we had the opportunity to be part of the drafting sessions for the Action Agenda of AEGEE-Europe, where you were able to pitch your own ideas and have discussions with people from other locals throughout Europe.
I would highly recommend anyone to visit next year’s EPM, as you’ll have a chance to learn a lot through the informative activities, but also through exchanging ideas with other people. Of course, you’ll also have a chance to experience the city and make friends during a fun social programme, including the famous European Culture Night.
If you have any questions about Statutory Events in general, feel free to send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. If you have any questions regarding the best places to visit at Schiphol, please approach me.
With adventurous regards,
Your semi-competent former President