As I said before, my lessons are very sparse and that leaves me with quite a lot of free time. Now of course I have a ton of work to do, but it wasn’t the case some weeks ago, during a 20-days hiatus between two courses, so I took a look at all the student life on campus and said to myself “Yeah, let’s get involved”.
Turns out an opportunity would appear almost immediately. ESN (Erasmus Student Network) is one of the biggest student network in Europe, with more than 12000 volunteers and 400+ local sections. Its goal is to help international (not just Erasmus) students in their discovery of another country. VIS (Växjö International Students) is one of those local chapters, specifically the one on our campus. It has more than 800 members and organize every semester a dozen of big events, like a trip to Lapland, to Russia, to Stockholm, a welcome dinner and party, and so on. Every six month they organize elections to renew part of their board, and this was precisely this time of the semester. I applied, interviewed and got elected as Advertising Responsible.
This means that I’ll have to create posters and other advertising material for the VIS events, along with organizing and participating to trips like the other leaders. For instance, I’ll be the main responsible for the “VIS evening”, a night during which every new international student can meet, mingle and register to trips and events. It sounds great and I’m looking forward to it… except that I have no idea why they chose me for this position (I originally applied for something entirely different), since I have essentially no knowledge of advertising and graphical design in general. Most of the time I just use Paint when I want to do something, and in some rare case I can go as far as to use Gimp, but I’ve never opened Photoshop or InDesign in my life, and now I’m supposed to replace someone who used it professionally for years. Not really reassuring.
I’m not getting involved only with the VIS though. Every year the Japanese students organize a big dinner for everybody on the campus. And I mean big: 250+ guests, a rented room, several dishes, dances, slideshows, songs, the works. Now, despite being a huge fan of Dr Koto’s Clinic and occasionally being dramatic on a level that could secure me a role on an Evangelion movie adaptation, I was obviously not Japanese enough to participate in this, but I went there anyway as a guest, and it was grand. And that was when my suppressed patriotic sense kicked in and I decided to organize a french dinner on our own.
Now it took some time, but this idea has gone from concept to reality, as I’ve assembled a team of frenchmen around me (a small and unreliable team, but still), conducted research on what we could have at that dinner, organized meetings, contacted room owners around the campus and generally trying to push this thing, despite the holidays, semester coming to an end and general apathy. The result? This:
(I didn’t do the art, Boris did. What, it’s not like I’m advertising responsible or anything) (Click for bigger!)
Yup, it’s very real, and we actually printed that thing and plastered it all over the uni. As you can see we transitioned from a dinner to a buffet party, and we’re expecting 70 guests in less that 3 weeks. Exciting stuff! Also frightening, of course, but we’ll do our best. If it works, it will be fun. If it fails, I will probably be branded as responsible, drove by a mob to the forest and hanged for my crimes, but well, no pain, no gain.
All in all, I’m pretty happy with myself, at least on that topic. It’s been almost 4 months now, and things are definitely different from what I expected. My social life has become incontestably better, although more superficial at the same time (I’ll talk about this soon). On the other hand, my school results took a pretty big hit. Not enough to make me change my habits, because of course, but sometime I’m worried about the future now. My personal life has gotten… weirder.
I guess all in all it was the right decision and I would do it again if given the chance, but the results are definitely less black and white than what I expected. Well, there’s still maybe 18 months to come, so let’s see what’s going to happen.