Outside, it was warm and the lovely spring sun was shining. Exactly what you would expect from the Mediterranean sun in Cyprus in February. Or so I was telling myself, because even though I was in Cyprus, I spent nearly all of my time in various meeting rooms.
I was taking part in the first European Students’ Union (ESU) event of the year, the European Students’ Convention (ESC) taking place in mid-February. The best way to describe this event is to call it a seminar preparing for the ESU Board Meeting. At the ESC, issues were discussed in a friendly way, because no decisions were made at this stage. The discussions covered fairly general topics, and we got to know each other’s ways of thinking and the views of the student organisations all over Europe.
“Interesting Mediterranean architecture and a fascinating nature full of things to explore!” That is how Cyprus was described to me before my trip. And I strongly believe that the people who told me were right – at least as far as I could tell from the glimpses I got through the bus window in the mornings on the way from the hotel to the university. Which is where we spent the following eight hours in various meeting rooms.
But the main thing about the ESC is getting to know people, other European students and their student organisations. It is easier to discuss matters and make decisions when everyone knows each other. That is why the topics discussed at the ESC are more general and not hugely focused on specific issues. At the Board Meeting, we will then argue, debate and make decisions. Like in all negotiations, it is easier to deal with issues when you know who you are debating with and where they are coming from. This is important in both the European student movement and international cooperation in general.
The Mediterranean and Cypriot food culture is wonderful and the people are very warm. I have learnt this from my friends’ travel posts on social media, but I can confirm it too. It is easier to keep up the energy for encounters and discussions when your blood sugar levels stay up – and it is even easier if the food on offer is as delicious as it was in Cyprus! And regarding the people I met, everyone working for the European student movement is friendly, warm and interested in many different topics. It is clear that we all want to work for a better tomorrow for European students.
Even though I spent most of my time in Cyprus in different meeting rooms dreaming of the Mediterranean sun, I have now made many new acquaintances and had many interesting discussions. I’m looking forward to the upcoming year in European student advocacy and getting to know many more new conference rooms all over this wonderful Europe.
After writing this text the effects of the corona virus have expanded through Europe. Unfortunately all the events during the spring have been cancelled. If possible, the European student movement will gather for ESU Board Meeting in the fall.