When We Were Young: Once Upon a Time in the North (1)

I giggled a bit when a friend of mine suggested I should apply for a youth exchange project on eco-lifestyle that was supposed to take place in Estonia.

It wasn’t the topic, nor was it the location.

“Youth. Youth! The EU thinks I’m still young, ha!” Coz, you see, the age brackets promised an interesting mix: 16 to 25 years. Frankly, I imagined that it would be me with a bunch of 16-year-olds. But I bravely took up the challenge, mainly because staying at home doing nothing had already started killing me (not-so-slowly) some weeks after having come back home. “Oh, just relax, Juste, it’s your holiday!” my mom would say. And I would politely keep it to myself that my whole past year has been like one amazing holiday and that not doing anything isn’t truly that exciting.

But so here I was, on my way to – surprisingly much colder than Lithuania – Estonia, to spend twelve days with – can you believe it? – people from foreign countries, uuuuuu. Also, can you believe how much of arrogance I’ve put in the previous sentence?

I expected something quite different. And I was surprised in the best way possible.

It wasn’t just me and a group of really young kids; it was a number of people of my age and a bunch of younger ones who were all unexpectedly cool. I honestly hadn’t met cooler 17-year-olds. Besides, instead of “hmmm, perhaps I’ll have a nicely healthy time simply discussing stuff with youngsters” I had a 12-day party marathon with some joking-intense chats during daytime. Since my Lithuanian friends were wonderful guitarists and singers, I was surrounded by quality music all the time. Well, not counting some evenings, especially the soundtrack for our trashy-themed party (don’t worry, we balanced embarrassing LMFAO with some Prodigy and Pendulum; though I’m not gonna hide the fact the some of the LMFAO songs have become our unofficial party anthems indeed. You know what I have in mind and you know it, know it, know it…).

Two interesting tendencies of our parties are worth mentioning here. One, and it happened a couple of times only, was for certain participants to make a circle and intentionally exclude other people. Other people who have never watched The Game of Thrones, of course. Dear lord, we were chatting about that extraordinarily well-made TV show on multiple occasions, and this blog entry is a good occasion for me to subtly imply that HOW COME YOU’RE NOT WATCHING IT, IT’S MORE THAN AWESOME!

The other tendency was to…dance some traditional dances (I mean, when no-one was forcing us!). Ask your Romanian friends if you have any – or, step number one, find Romanian friends – how to do a circle dance with a scarf. Sounds intriguing? It should, coz it’s an innocent way to hint at someone you like. Or to be misinterpreted completely. So we would all naturally burst into some group dances without thinking how f-in’ unlikely that would be at home. It’s surely a pity and thus we, the participants, should definitely bring some “exotic” dances back home.

Ah yes, there was also the joy of having discovered that many of us use, or at least understand, the same Russian swearwords. Since that discovery, we would use them as absolutely rude and inappropriate jokes. If someone somehow till this very line imagined a European youth exchange is a totally serious and formal thing – I’m sorry I’ve ruined that beautiful image you had. But, hey, fun and filled with partying doesn’t necessarily mean totally unproductive.

The final products of our exchange are still being, to use proper style, finalized. I myself will finalise (don’t confuse that word with ‘forget’) my adventure in the North in my upcoming blog entry. I have decided that a single activity of those twelve days of our project was so unbelievably boring that it interestingly deserves its own post. Heller in his Catch-22 wrote, “and people who met him were always impressed by how unimpressive he was.” I’m sort of copying the guy here.

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