Made by Agnese with the glasses. We didn’t talk almost at all but this doesn’t change the fact that she made something pretty.

This picture is a little token and memento of what took place in Olde Vechte in The Netherlands the past few weeks. That Olde Vechte. It’s become out of the blue a significant part of my life and if all goes well it’s going to become more important still in the months to come.

I’m posting this here because somehow everything I put on here gets reinforced in my head, it becomes more tangible. It works. Synapses and shit (I haven’t taken advantage of this enough, by the way—never too late to start).

People and how we work are weird… no no no. Sorry. I do this a lot: I talk about the general we when I mean to talk about myself and what I do. Let’s try this again: I’m weird. Remember, gotta accept accountability.

So I’m writing this post purely for my own benefit and not because I think it might be interesting to anybody apart from those with whom I shared the experience—kinda similar to how you post songs on Facebook and the only people who like your post are the people who already know and like the song and very few others actually listen to it, usually people who have a crush on you. That’s how talking and writing about youth exchanges and trainings is, including EVS, including Erasmus, all those sexy international things that have been taking a great deal of my time and energy the past few years. The feelings they have created in me are difficult to convey, offline as well as online, so I’m not going to go into the boring details of a purely experiential thing that’s as useful and interesting to read about as listening to people talk about the dreams they had last night. What I am going to say is do yourself a favour and participate in such programs. If you want to learn how, I can help you and direct you, and, who knows, one day even train you.

Sudden spontaneous insightful realisation time. The above paragraph starts with “So I’m writing this post purely for my own benefit” and ends with me urging you dear reader to give it a shot. What can I say, contradicting myself seems to be my new favourite hobby.

Scratch that, it’s not new at all.

Since I’m writing this, have a look at some of my older, more thorough posts about these experiences. Are you intrigued by what you read? Honest question. I’m really curious, because in real life most people express indifference when I talk about these projects.  This might explain why I felt the need to write the way I wrote this post.

I SEE GREEN (1st time in Olde Vechte)
Creative Photography in the Finnish Wilderness
Danish Diaries
EVS in Sofia


Sintang, Borneo, is only populated by immigrants from Asia Minor, which happen to be aristocrats.

I was casually browsing /r/gamedeals (yeah, as if I don’t already own enough games!), inspired by the latest Humble Bundle to look for a good price for chronically expensive Crusader Kings II plus expansions, when I stumbled upon this great offer by previously unknown to me BundleStars: Victoria 1 + 2, together with all expansions and DLC, for only €4,49! Steam keys and all! I only had vanilla Vicky 2 on GamersGate, where I received the review key, so I was itching to get it on Steam somehow. I got it and spent 6 hours non-stop trying to get the Netherlands into Club Great Eight. Alas, my warmongering and trying to take advantage of a surprisingly weak Prussia alerted the bouncers.

Once upon a time, I was writing here about how excited I was that Vicky 2 was announced… “Looks like it could be the best Paradox game yet”, I wrote. Heh, it was still two years too early for Crusader Kings II and three years too early for Europa Universalis IV. Paradox Development Studio has come a long way. Proud of you Swedes. ^^J

Wow. I just realised I’ve reviewed all of these games; that’s where the links go. The reviews are in Greek though. Here’s the one for Vicky 2 also.

In that last review, four years ago, I wrote that Vicky 2 was still a little bit unpolished. Two expansions and lots of patches later, it’s still not perfect, but it’s much more playable. If you also consider all of the mods that inevitably emerged, which I can’t comment on because I haven’t tried them yet, there’s a lot of stuff to discover.

Consider this, from the description of Episode 217 of podcast Three Moves Ahead:

3MA Producer Michael Hermes and GWJ editor Erik Hanson joins Rob and Tom to talk about Victoria II: Heart of Darkness. Rob is reconsidering some of his earlier, harsher views on Victoria while Tom argues that it is a towering achievement of game design that speaks to real-world politics in a way few others have ever attempted.

Victoria 2 might be a more polished gem nowadays, but it’s still notoriously difficult to understand and play, even compared to other Paradox games. Definitely one of the most complex games out there.

But don’t worry. If you buy it at this incredible discount, and I would strongly encourage you to do so if you can see yourself remotely enjoying such a game, here are a couple of videos to help you get started. Let’s play together then and carve Europe between ourselves. }:}

I See Green

“Introduce yourself in a creative way.”

“The youth exchange “I SEE GREEN” is a 10 days youth exchange aiming at raising awareness of 30 youngsters, youth leaders and volunteers of 6 countries (Netherlands, Croatia,Romania,Greece,Latvia and Poland) on environmental education with the use of audiovisual media as a tool.”

So I went to the Netherlands, took part in I See Green and I had a fantastic time. So good was it that not only do I want to participate in as many similar programs as possible in the future, I regret having missed opportunities to do so in the past.

It is very hard to convey in words what happened in Ommen. Those 10+2 days were very “experiential” and a big part of what made them special was the bonding that was powerfully, creatively and disruptively (but in a good way) built up between us by the team leaders, the inside jokes that quickly emerged among us and countless other things that really mean little to anyone but us roughly 30 people that took part. It felt like we were all apprentices in this cult’s ceremonies, cut-off from the rest of the world, staying in that old house in the middle of nowhere for the Netherlands’ standards. That closeness was what made it special.

For example, I will never listen to this song the same way:

(trust me, use loud music if you want people to be in a room on time)

I feel I met people that I’d make good friends with, but once again, just like the ones I made in Denmark, these are relationships that are destined to be long-distance from the get-go. Still, all is well. Matija, Karla, Agita, Marian, Vaggelis, Elisavet, Panagiotis, Dimitra, Sofia (it was a more or less Greek-dominated team), they stood out for me. I don’t want to exclude the rest of the participants of course; everyone has their own special place in my mind for their own reason, be it Stephanie for teaching me dance moves, Jakob for his perfect impersonation of Rose from Titanic (we remade one of the scenes from the movie as part of one of our assignments), Darius for his humour, wit and very special accent, Dede for reimagining what milking a cow can mean, Ioanna for her special Uno rules and one of the heaviest but loveable Greek accents EVER, Edgars for his remarkably bad English but him being even more likeable because of it, Ola for her studying Japanese late into every evening with remarkable dilligence, even when everyone was in altered states around her dancing around her or jumping on the trampoline outside…

Of course, this (try to spot me in both scenes):

After we had to unlearn part of what we had been learning a whole lifetime, our final assignment was to make a video that would promote awareness on an enviornmental issue of our choice. My group had a struggle with the concept (like always in I See Green, we were purposefully given very short deadlines in which we had to come up with our ideas in order to think less and do more); we scrapped two ideas in the process and for good reason: the stage for one of them could easily pass off as the backdrop for an amateur porn movie to the unsuspected passer-by. Panic crept to us slowly but surely in the few hours we had to have something prepared — and it wasn’t the first time we were caught unprepared in the program; in fact most assignments in I See Green we had to have ready in timespans measured in half-hour increments. What we ended up doing though we’re really proud of. We created 5 funny social awareness shorts and then combined them into one for easier presentation and shaing. Enjoy.

And a small extra:

Between a rock and a dutch place.

Είμαι στην Αθήνα, λίγες μόνο ώρες πριν ξεκινήσουμε το ταξίδι μας  με την Ελένη για την Ολλανδία. Είναι η μόνη νύχτα που θα μείνω στην πόλη και δεν μπορώ να πω ότι είναι αρκετή!

Οι προηγούμενες εβδομάδες ήταν πάρα πολύ γεμάτες σε κάθε επίπεδο. Εργασιακά, συναισθηματικά, από άποψης φίλων, ασχολιών, ομάδων, παιχνιδιών (reviews, όπως βλέπετε και παρακάτω…) Απ’όλα έχει ο μπαξές. Όμως κυριάρχησε το άγχος του υποτιτλισμού που είχα τις τρεις τελευταίες εβδομάδες, της δουλίτσας αυτής για την Ελληνική Εταιρεία και μερικά φιλμάκια. 5 οικολογικές ταινίες, 5 υποτιτλισμοί και μεταφράσεις, 4 έτοιμα transcripts (κανένα με σωστούς χρόνους και ένα με λάθη!), 3 εβδομάδες δουλειάς, αρκετά χρήματα αλλά πολλές ώρες μακριά από την Ελένη, η οποία με στήριξε με την υπομονή της καθ’όλη την διάρκεια (thanks ψιψίνα μου! ^^), αλλά και μακριά από φίλους, οι οποίοι όλοι σχεδόν βρίσκονται στα δικά τους turning points της ζωής τους, αλλά και από τον ίδιο μου τον εαυτό.

Πόσος καιρός να έχει περάσει από τότε που είχα λίγο χρόνο για τον εαυτό μου; Λίγο διάβασμα, λίγη ηρεμία, λίγο τεμπέλιασμα, χαλαρότητα, κανένα παιχνίδι (και το Perfect Dark HD μόλις βγήκε!!); Με την θεατρική και την φωτογραφική μαζί ήδη να μου παίρνουν 6 νύχτες την εβδομάδα, το πρόγραμμα φαίνεται στενόκωλο. Και δεν βάζω τις πανεπιστημιακές υποχρεώσεις πουθενά στην εξίσωση αυτή. Όμως θα προσπαθήσω να σταματήσω αυτή την “γκρίνια” εδώ. Εκτός από το τι ακριβώς ήταν οι ταινίες που υποτίτλησα – οι οποίες ήταν όλες εξαιρετικά ενδιαφέρουσες, διαλεγμένες θα έλεγε κανείς, και για τις οποίες θα ήθελα να γράψω – δεν μπορώ να φανταστώ κάτι άλλο από αυτά που γράφω να ενδιαφέρουν κανέναν άλλον εκτός από εμένα και τον inner blogging freak μου!

Οπότε, αύριο φεύγουμε για Ολλανδία… Η τρίτη μου φορά σε αυτή την χώρα. Νέες εκπλήξεις περιμένουν εμένα και την Ελένη. Θα ταξιδέψουμε αυτή την φορά στο Leiden, όπου η φίλη της Νένης, η Βικτωρία θα μας φιλοξενήσει για μερικές μέρες. Ποιος ξέρει σε τι περιπέτειες θα μπλέξουμε! Δεν θα υποσχεθώ ότι θα γράψω για αυτές με το που γυρίσουμε, ήδη φαίνονται να υπάρχουν άλλα γεμάτα σχέδια στον ορίζονται για μετά την επιστροφή μας και για τις διακοπές! Το μόνο σίγουρο: ΘΑ ΡΙΞΟΥΜΕ ΤΑΧΥΤΗΤΕΣ! Και θα ανεβάσουμε και καμιά φωτογραφία στο flickr! 😛

So, if you do something worth writing, but you don’t actually write it, where does that leave you?