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“Istanbul is bursting with life”

“Istanbul is bursting with life” “Istanbul is bursting with life”

Joris Veenhuis (27), a Dutch European Law School master’s student who has seen 12 per cent of the world

One of Joris Veenhuis’s favourite cities is Istanbul. “A great international capital city that is bursting with life. People might think that it is a strict Muslim country, but you see fewer head scarves there than in Amsterdam.” Five years ago, he went there for the first time with AEGEE’s Summer University. “A group of some thirty students from different countries travels through a certain area for about two weeks. A local student or group of students acts as a guide. They know all the secret places. That’s how we ended up going to clubs on the roofs of houses. Turkey was in the news a lot because of its potential EU membership back then. I wanted to see for myself how it was.”

Veenhuis was so enthusiastic about the AEGEE programme that he became a member and also attended the Summer University the following summers. “The group is only together for a short time, but the contact is very intensive. On Facebook, I still speak to a lot of people that I met during these trips.” Places he visited include Ljubljana, Istria and Turin. “The trip had a green theme. We went cycling, hiking and horse riding and during a workshop we learned how to make useful things from waste.”

Another important trip for Veenhuis was when he did voluntary work in the Balkans in 2008. “It was my aunt’s idea, my cousin had done it too. We built a house for a Croatian family in a Croatian village in a Serbian area. A young family that have lived there all their lives. The husband could no longer work because of a disability and this piece of land was all he had left. I worked there for three weeks, until the first floor was finished. The group after us completed the rest of the house. It might seem very noble to do something like that, but you do it for yourself too. The local people there are very hospitable. They took us around everywhere.”

Joris does not know yet where he will spend this summer. “Maybe Spain, near Santiago de Compostela.” One thing is certain, it will be another Summer University. “As long as I am a student, that’s what I will do.”

 

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