Birgit Weck’s greatest regret is common to many AEGEE people: she found out about AEGEE only in the end of her studies. Because of that, the former board member of AEGEE-Mainz/Wiesbaden became immediately very active – and chose an AEGEE-related subject as topic for PhD thesis. Birgit is analysing how staying abroad changes the peronality.

Golden Oldie: When and where were you born?
17th of August 1981 in Mainz, Germany.

Golden Oldie: Where and what did you study?
I studied Organizational Psychology and Health Psychology in Mainz.

Golden Oldie: When did you join AEGEE and how?
All the time during my studies, I wanted to become active in some sort of students organisation, but I never found the right one for me. I had already started writing my final thesis when, one day in July 2006 at lunch, I found one of the famous yellow AEGEE-Mainz/Wiesbaden flyers on the table – this flyer promised me that AEGEE could offer me anything I was looking for: organising things, internationality, independence from parties/religions, getting to know other students. So I went to the information evening and joined AEGEE. And because it was already that late in my studies I immersed myself at once very deeply and intensively in AEGEE…

Golden Oldie: That was the right decision! Are you still member?
Birgit: Officially, I’m not a member anymore, but I’ll always be a member “in my heart” of AEGEE-Mainz/Wiesbaden and AEGEE-Hamburg! If I’m occasionally in these regions, I enjoy attending the meetings and helping with events.

Golden Oldie: You are best known for being board member of AEGEE-Mainz/Wiesbaden, where you also organised several events. What were your favourite tasks?
From May 2007 to May 2008, I have been officially secretary of AEGEE-Mainz/Wiesbaden, but in fact, there was no strict division of tasks. My favourite tasks: Having ideas about the content of our events; organising the content; pulling the strings; structuring the schedule; guiding the big crowd from one place to another.

Golden Oldie: What where the biggest challenges and rewards of these tasks?
Birgit: The biggest challenge was finding enough money – I did not really enjoy fundraising… When I tried it, I just got things like 10 kilos of gummy bears… The biggest reward: happy participants! And to enjoy that things worked out.

Golden Oldie: Tell us a funny story of your AEGEE time.
At one of our events in Mainz, after the European Night, I was supposed to be the one taking the key for all the lecture rooms and the breakfast room. It happened to be one of the best European Nights I ever had… In the early morning we walked in direction to the gym, I was still singing loudly together with another guy from Mainz. Of course, he still had the key, of course we forgot to hand it over to me and he went home, because he preferred to sleep in his own bed. The next morning, when the participants were already up and hungry for breakfast and the first lecturer should arrive in one hour, we noticed that nobody had the key.

Golden Oldie: Oh no! What did you do?
For some unfortunate combination of circumstances, first we couldn’t phone the guy who had the key and didn’t exactly know where he lived, then, it was impossible to wake him up just through ringing bells or telephones: His sleep was too deep… However, through this episode we all won great self-esteem in our organisational skills: Our crisis management turned out to be perfect, we could manage everything, the event went on as planned and the participants got something to eat and stayed happy! Needless to say that we, the organisers, had an even greater feeling as a cohesive group after this incident…

Golden Oldie: What was your favourite AEGEE event?
During my active time, I attended almost 40 events – but there’s only one which changed my life: the European School 1 in Çanakkale, my first event ever where I travelled. There I realised that in AEGEE I can really be and behave like what I really am. I think there I got addicted to the AEGEE spirit: From then on I visited almost each month another AEGEE event.

Golden Oldie: What were your best and worst moments in AEGEE?
Best moments: In general, the great feeling it always was to meet somebody again who I already knew from another event; when – on the last night of our first self-organised Summer University in Mainz in 2007 – the participants surprised us with a big, professional cake with “Thank you AEGEE-Mainz” written on it; the overwhelming feelings on my first Agora in Ljubljana in 2008; and when I saw that our participants had the best time of their lives on our events! Worst moment: When I started my working life in Lüneburg, became member of AEGEE-Hamburg, but couldn’t attend all the meetings and events because of work – I was so disappointed, especially during the Summer University in Hamburg 2009.

Golden Oldie: Which AEGEE member impressed you a lot?
There was no single outstanding member who impressed me more than others. In AEGEE I got to know an incredible amount of interesting people. In fact, what I liked most was the typical AEGEE personality. I believe that the AEGEEans’ personality is statistically significant different from the average population; I would have liked to write my diploma thesis about that… The typical AEGEEan is, in my opinion, very open-minded, rather extraverted, quite conscientious, idealistic, interested in a variety of things, creative, smart, a friend of people, and likes action!

Golden Oldie: Any things you regret that you haven’t done them in AEGEE?
There are so many!! First of all, I regret that I didn’t join AEGEE earlier, but I simply did not know about it. Then, I really would have liked to become active on European level. If I actually would have started with it, I cannot tell where it would have ended since I was so full of enthusiasm! At least, I should have joined the AEGEE Academy and should have trained new AEGEEans. But, after having finished my studies, I found it quite hard to combine AEGEE with working life. Finally, I regret that I’ve never visited the CD house…

Golden Oldie: What are you doing now as main occupation?
Birgit: I’m working on my PhD in Psychology of Personality at the University of Mainz while I’m living in Bologna, Italy.

Golden Oldie: Did AEGEE influence your career decision?
Yes, it influenced me a lot: I never knew if I better become a researcher or a coach and trainer and because I made so great experiences in AEGEE, as a trainee and as a trainer, this will be the direction where I’m going to. Before that, I decided to make a PhD, also to enjoy a little bit longer the freedom of students’ life. For sure, the topic of my thesis would have been different without AEGEE: My PhD is about “Personality Changes through Stays Abroad” and many antennae helped me to find participants for my study. In general I’m even more interested than before in international/intercultural topics and I would definitely enjoy a job after my PhD which deals with such tasks – for example giving intercultural trainings.

Golden Oldie: As a child, what did you dream to be your future job after growing up?

Golden Oldie: Are you single/married/married with 5 children?
Birgit: I’m not married yet, but for quite some time I’m living together with my German boyfriend whom I got to know on SU Bologna 2008 – I tried to convince him to join AEGEE but I only managed to get him as a boyfriend…

Golden Oldie: Which languages do you speak?
German, English, Italian; and I understand some French, Spanish and Latin.

Golden Oldie: What do you like/dislike about Bologna?
I really enjoy a lot to have the privilege to live in Italy! What I love about Bologna: the summer, lots of cultural action, the people…. What I dislike: the traffic and the air.

Golden Oldie: What are your best and least liked cities?
My best liked cities all over the world with which I really feel in love with: 1. Rome; 2. Paris. In Germany: my two number ones are Hamburg and Munich! My least liked city: Lüneburg – it’s beautiful, but living there was not made for me.

Golden Oldie: What is the furthest place you ever went to?
Up to know, I think it was San Francisco and Los Angeles (9136 km from Mainz), where I went two times. In two weeks, I’ll travel to Singapore and Malaysia (10300 km from Mainz).

Golden Oldie: Which country would you like to visit in the near future?
Spain – in fact, I’ve never visited the mainland, only some islands, Hawaii, Czech Republic, Egypt, Greece, and Cuba.

Golden Oldie: What are your hobbies?
Dancing, especially Boogie Woogie; Music – I play keyboard, guitar, piano, mouth harp; the 1950s and Rock’n’Roll; travelling of course; bicycle tours; mixing and drinking cocktails; reading; swimming…

Golden Oldie: What are you most afraid of?

Golden Oldie: What’s never missing in your fridge?
Things to prepare salsa for pasta, some basic cocktail ingredients, chocolate.

Golden Oldie: How would you describe yourself in five keywords?
Birgit: Extraverted, outgoing, enthusiastic, ambitious, need always a variety of things to do.