John Eriksson (37) was active in AEGEE for eight years – from 2002 until 2010. He was President, Vice President and Secretary of his home antenna AEGEE-Lund, for which he organised several Summer Universities. He moved from Sweden to Netherlands. Today he is working as Biotechnology Specialist for Janssen Biologics in and lives in Noordwijk aan Zee.

Golden Oldie: When and where were you born?
John Eriksson: Kalamr, Sweden, on 28th of December 1973.

Golden Oldie: Where and what did you study?
John Eriksson: I studied Microbiology for a Masters of Science and then Chemistry for a Licentiate in Engineering.

Golden Oldie: When did you join AEGEE and how?
John Eriksson: I found AEGEE posters at my university by coincidence in 2002. There was a local event then. I heard enthusiastic stories about AEGEE from the local board. In 2003 I participated in my first summer university. It was in Gdansk, Poland. Soon I got addicted to both the people and the various activities of AEGEE.

Golden Oldie: Are you still member?
John Eriksson: Today I am not a member, but I was until recently a member of AEGEE-Lund. Maybe I will continue to support my home antenna.

Golden Oldie: You are best known for being involved in AEGEE-Lund over a period of eight years, being in all kind of board positions. How come?
John Eriksson: First I did not want to take a heavier post, because I felt I was too inexperienced. I thought that being responsible for PR was a good start as being a board member. I was a bit shy in the start and did not come up with so many ideas, but later, after some international experience, I felt more self-assure and motivated. After several years as an active member I felt that I could take over the presidency of our antenna!

Golden Oldie: What where the biggest challenges and rewards of these tasks?
John Eriksson: Already in the start, because I got active at a late part of my studies, I was a bit scared that people would feel that I am an “oldie”, but later I realised that this was not the case. Age is a matter of what you feel inside yourself and that has nothing to do about what other people think about you. As being a small antenna, AEGEE-Lund has always been fighting against extinction, and that has been a challenge for me all the time. Luckily we found some good people among the guest students from other European universities. Otherwise, I am afraid, we would not have survived during these years! Sometimes we were as few as 10 members, trying to keep the ship floating, but it seems that we have succeeded in the end – and now it even looks quite promising.

Golden Oldie: Did other people appreciate your work?
John Eriksson: I think yes, because I have a rather low profile in the way that I don’t always begin by expressing my own personal ideas about things, but first listen to other people and what they think and then draw my own conclusions and make suggestions. Living in the student world is not always such an easy task either, but I was well supported by my family and friends.

Golden Oldie: Tell us a funny story of your AEGEE time.
John Eriksson: Well, I must tell one funny thing that happened. It was at a TSU in Eastern Europe. We had a great time and we were hiking, rafting and had lots of fun together. One evening we had a pizza night and everyone was happy and cheerful. Suddenly one of the organizers said he had a message to tell to everybody and the crowd got quiet and listened. He said “John has got his birthday today and we want to celebrate it”. Everybody in the crowd started to cheer. It was not at all my birthday, but everyone was so excited so I did not want to tell the truth to them. They also gave me a t-shirt as a present and I did not want to be unthankful…and afterwards we had so much fun that I forgot about it anyway!

Golden Oldie: What were your best and worst moments in AEGEE?
John Eriksson: The best moments were definitely after successful local events – for example a Regional Meeting that we held in Lund, I think in 2003, that gave us as a local antenna a good input and support to our enthusiasm and ideas. The worst moments have always been the temporary problems of maintaining AEGEE-Lund as an active antenna. We are in the shadow of other, more established and much bigger student associations in Lund. At one time I was trying to initialize cooperation with another internationally oriented group at our university, but it never grew into anything particular. I think that because of the clear profile of our organisation and its activities, especially the Summer Universities, as well as having support from international students in our board from time to time, we have managed to survive.

Golden Oldie: Which AEGEE member impressed you a lot?
John Eriksson: Giovanni Soffietti and his friend Alessio Fichera from AEGEE-Cagliari. I met them at my first Summer University in Poland in 2003 and they had travelled all the way from Sardinia by car, which I thought was very impressive. Vanni has later also been active at the European level of AEGEE, which I sometimes miss. I looked a bit at the profiles and ideas of the present members of the Comite Directeur and I think they are doing it well, all of them!

Golden Oldie: Any things you regret that you haven’t done them in AEGEE?
John Eriksson: Yes, being elected at the European level.

Golden Oldie: Did AEGEE influence your career decision?
John Eriksson: No, I was already quite specialised when I entered AEGEE.

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

Golden Oldie: What are you doing now as main occupation?
John Eriksson: Biotechnology specialist.

Golden Oldie: Are you single/married/married with 5 children?
John Eriksson: Single.

Golden Oldie: Which languages do you speak?
John Eriksson: English, German, Dutch, Swedish, Danish, Italian and a bit of French.

Golden Oldie: Where do you live now? What do you like/dislike about your city?
John Eriksson: I live in Noordwijk aan Zee, The Netherlands. It is located at the coast and is a well-known sea resort. What I like most about the Netherlands is that the country is small and very internationally oriented. That is probably why there are so many ex-pats living here from different parts of the world. Dutch people are generally open and helpful in various situations. Before I came here in January 2011 I was living in Amsterdam for 2.5 years. I come from a corner of Sweden along the coast where the Hansa was an important means of trade and trips in north-western Europe. That is one reason why I got interested in Europe and European relations at an early stage. But I still want to develop it.

Golden Oldie: What is the furthest place you ever went to?
John Eriksson: Algarve, Portugal.

Golden Oldie: Which country would you like to visit in the near future?
John Eriksson: United States and Australia, as well as various countries in the tropics.

Golden Oldie: What are your hobbies?
John Eriksson: Bicycling, running, fitness, travelling, photographing, reading books and magazines, meeting friends, have a beer…

Golden Oldie: What are you most afraid of?
John Eriksson: The ignorance of human beings.

Golden Oldie: What’s never missing in your fridge?
John Eriksson: A cold beer.

Golden Oldie: How would you describe yourself in five keywords?
John Eriksson: Sportive, sociable, a bit sensitive, intellectual, stubborn.