Soon the Agora Salerno stage will be full of candidates who want your vote! For sure you have read all about their programmes in the official booklet, so now you want to find out more about them, their hobbies, whether they can cook and which AEGEE member they would take with them on a deserted island. In short: classic first date questions from the Internet! The GT will take you on a date with the candidates. In this edition: Maaike Heijdenrijk from AEGEE-Nijmegen, running for European Citizenship Working Group Coordinator. Get ready, your date is starting now!

Golden Times: Are you afraid of your candidature speech on the Agora stage? And how will you prepare for it?
Maaike Heijdenrijk: Yes I am a little scared, I think everyone is. New experiences are always scary. And with applying for this position, I hope to get lots of new experiences this year, of which many will be quite scary sometimes, so for me it feels like if I can make it past the speech at the Agora, I am ready for everything!

GT: Where would you be now if you hadn’t joined AEGEE?
Maaike: Good question! I don’t really know.

GT: How did you join AEGEE exactly? How did you find out about it?
Maaike: In Nijmegen we organize two introduction periods to AEGEE in a year. We hang up posters all over the university to promote these. When I was a first year student I saw one of these posters, and without knowing anyone from the organization, I signed up.

GT: How long did it take you from the first moment you heard about it until you signed the membership form and joined AEGEE?
Maaike: About four weeks, the duration of our introduction period. I loved all the activities they organized and they were really cool people, so I became a member immediately!

GT: What’s the typical drink and food you bring to European Nights?
Maaike: I always love to bring advocaat with whipped cream. Advocaat is a Dutch drink normally for elderly people, and it is like dessert pudding with alcohol. For food there is only one answer of course: the Stroopwafel.

Young Maaike

GT: At an AEGEE party where will we find you? On the dancefloor? Talking at the bar?
Maaike: Both!

GT: What was your favourite event as organiser – and why is it your favourite?
Maaike: My favourite was “Europe on Track” in Nijmegen last year. We had just a small organizing team and all put in a lot of effort to make it a really special stop, including things like a big conference, an international Easter brunch, and eating at a restaurant where the cooks were undocumented refugees. It was amazing to see how smooth everything ran, there was hardly any stress for us as organizers during the event. This showed us how all of our effort paid off, and we could really enjoy the event so relaxed!

GT: What was your first Agora and how did you feel there? Happy, excited, overwhelmed, lost?
Maaike: My first Agora was in Chisinau in 2016, and it was definitely a combination of all of the above. I travelled with the infamous Polish bus, 24 hours from Krakow through Ukraine to Moldova, which included bribing police officers and getting kicked out of the bus 300 kilometres before Krakow in the middle of the night since the bus company went bankrupt. But mainly it was a really big bus full of fun, drinks and games, and was incredible.

GT: Have you ever hichhiked to an AEGEE event? If yes, what’s your favourite hitchhiking story?
Maaike: Yes, but unfortunately there are not that many cool stories.

GT: There is a classic typology of AEGEE members, dividing them according to the three aspects fun member, career member and idealist – to which percentage are you which of these aspects?
Maaike: I think 30/30/40.

GT: What do your parents think about the idea that you are so active in AEGEE?
Maaike: They love it! They are really happy to see me passionate about this, and love to hear about my crazy travel stories. The only thing for my dad is that most of his sisters ended up marrying a foreign man and moving abroad, so he is really scary I follow in their footsteps and will leave the country for the rest of my life!

GT: What other hobbies do you have aside from AEGEE?
Maaike: I love to play bord games and recently started a plant collection.

GT: What was the last book you really got into?
Maaike: I just started this amazing book, “The Eighth Life (For Brilka)” by Nino Haratischwili. It is a 1300 page epic about different generations of women in a Georgian family, and covers all of Georgia’s important history of the 20th century, and it is one of the best books I ever read.

GT: What TV series do you keep coming back to and re-watching?
Maaike: I love police series, especially the really bad American ones.

GT: What are some obscure things that you are or were really into?
Maaike: I have a dark past – a One Direction phase. #noshame

GT: What’s your favourite app on your phone?
Maaike: Netflix and I have a love-hate relationship.

GT: Do you like cooking and if yes – what’s your favourite dish you like to cook?
Maaike: Yes! Normally I cook for all my roommates. I am currently learning to make proper Indian curries.

GT: What’s never missing in your fridge?
Maaike: Cheese.

GT: Did you consider joining a political party or maybe want to do it later?
Maaike: This is something I will think about after my AEGEE life.

GT: What do you study – and why?
Maaike: Mathematics. I genuinely love it; it is solving puzzles on a really high, abstract level.

GT: What’s the favourite city or place on this planet you ever visited?
Maaike: Andalusia. The combination of stunning nature, bright blue sea and the most beautiful cities ever, it’s the best.

GT: And where would you really like to go?
Maaike: Antarctica. I really want to see penguins in their natural environment.

GT: This Agora is about walls – what was the most difficult wall you had to overcome?
Maaike: When I moved to Spain I thought my Spanish was quite okay, but no one had mentioned that in the south they speak this incomprehensible accent, so I spent two months in class not knowing what the professors or my classmates were talking about. But after that, it was awesome to be able to chat with everybody and see how much I learned.

GT: What’s your biggest frustration in AEGEE?
Maaike: The price of travelling and the time it takes.

GT: Please complete the sentence: “AEGEE is for me…”
Maaike: Excitement.

GT: How would you describe yourself in a few keywords?
Maaike: Passionate, energized, chaotic and caring.