Lovers of travel, you might want to tune in on this. Maybe you already heard of EGEA before. EGEA stands for European Geography Association and is the biggest network of geography students and geographers in over 90 cities in over 30 European countries. Did you know that Groningen has its own EGEA entity as well?
With countless events abroad, such as short exchange trips, interesting scientific seminars and big congresses, EGEA provides many opportunities for prospective geographers to create a new international network of students with the same interests. Another important benefit is that is all comes with low costs forgeographers with a student budget!
The biggest events EGEA organizes are the well visited congresses. Every year there are three congress: the Western Regional Congress, the Eastern Regional Congress, and the Annual Congress. The latter is the most important one and the biggest EGEA event of the year. This year, Tim Jansen and I travelled to Selce Croatia, for the Annual Congress of 2018, which was organized by the EGEA entity of Zagreb. This week was full of excursions, trainings, lectures, workshops and more. And did I mention the daily swims into the Adriatic? To give you an impression of what is was like to attend such a week, Girugten gives you a sneak peek in what it is to attend such a congress.
The grand kickoff was at the University of Rijeka. About 300 students were welcomed at the campus, where the registration and the grand opening ceremony were held by the rector and the Board of EGEA. Afterwards students went to Selce, where the actual congress took place. After a tiring trip, everybody had the opportunity toc get a little rest, take a look around or stroll to the beach. Yes, this year we were blessed with a nice location right next to the sea! To make sure all new participants were introduced to the European network, a so called Newbee Area was set up, where all new members got introduced to all important aspects of the Association.
This is a good way to get an impression of such a big network and all the opportunities it offers you. You can join committees, organize events, organize exchanges and more, all on an international level. Just as every evening, the first evening was full of interesting activities. We had the EGEAN Fair, where you could visit all of Croatia’s Five Regions and got to taste delicacies of each one. This basically meant you could take a stroll along five large tables with all kinds of delicious regional beers, wines and foods.
After the first introduction day, the first workshop tracks started off. Since this year’s congress theme was ‘Realize Rural, Understand it and make it happen’, most of all activities were focused on “the rural”. Each group of students worked their own case to eventually be able to present their findings on the fifth day, during the presentations. Workshops like understanding the rural and urban continuum contained the essence of finding ways to get rural and urban aspects together in a responsible and sustainable way. Even workshops where with the help of a GIS, students worked on finding solutions on rural problems such as population decline. The second day ended with the big European cultural fair, where all nationalities had their own market stand full of products of their regions. While walking along all tables, you got to taste the culture of about 20 European nations. The Netherlands were represented by the entities of Nijmegen, Utrecht, Amsterdam and of course Groningen. We filled our table with Dutch delicacies such as Jenever, stroopwafels and Groninger sausage. To conclude: the cultural fair is an excellent and fun way to get in contact with the cultures of Europe!
Besides workshops and interesting lectures, there was room for one-day excursions with some beautiful destinations. Trips were organized to the beautiful Gorski Kotar region, Krka national park, the Plitvice Lakes and more. During the work- shops, students got in contact with local community programs that worked on problems as population decline and improve- ment of the natural resources. It was for instance quite interesting to see how locals try to improve their exploitation of the local forestry by investing in local companies that are dependent on the natural resources.
During the Scientific Fair, some students presented their own extensive researches and work. Interesting approaches on problem solving on a rural level were discussed at the grand debate. Some of us took the opportunity to debate about the application of artificial intelligence for rural problems.
The General Assemblies
So, how does the biggest European Geography Association exist? Each year, EGEA is led by a new board, existing of five young and enthusiastic geographers from all over Europe. They make sure that all the committees work effectively and check if all city entities organize enough activities, the board organizes the General Assembly, where the representatives from the entities can join and vote about all kinds of important decisions that make sure the policies are up to date. You could compare EGEA to the EU a little bit, with its structure of Committees and regional teams working together to connect and organize all entities over Europe. Since EGEA is so big, a General Assembly is quite a happening. To be able to work through the whole agenda, the Assembly was actually divided over three sessions through the week. At the end of the last session, the most important part took place, namely the appointment of the new board! A new chairman, vice chairman, treasurer, event & PR advisor and secretary were appointed. They will have their seats until next year’s Annual Congress.
Are you interested in getting to know more about this network of geography students and alumni? Do you want to know what EGEA in Groningen has to offer you? Via EGEA Groningen, all students at the Faculty of Spatial Sciences get the opportunity to join a wide range of interesting and fun events on an international level. EGEA is an excellent opportunity to expand your network abroad and to broaden your horizon!
This article was first published in Girugten (Year 49 of Girugten – issue 02 – november 2018).