05:00PM. An early evening, walking passed the gates in Brussels Airport with hand luggage in one hand, a Starbucks in the other and with my blue purse hanging on my shoulder I was well prepared and happy to fly to Prague for yet a new adventure. Not knowing what would await me this week, I was already fortunate enough to meet some lovely people in Belgium. We had a great laugh, sat together in the plane and time flew by as we realized when we landed. Luggage chasing and taking a taxi to our hotel was just the beginning of everything. Late dinner, lots of jokes and some Czech food made us realize that we were going to have a great week ahead of us at the 2017 EACA International Advertising Summer School!

Do you know that feeling when you just want to throw your phone out of the window because of its terrible alarm? Well, I guess everybody knows, especially on a Monday morning at 07:00AM. At least I knew it was for a good cause. I did not sleep at all, not because the bed wasn’t right or the neighbours were noisy. No. I was just too excited for the first introduction day!

Stepping outside my comfort zone, but with an eager soul, I left the hotel with the right essentials: some paper, a pen and my fully-charged laptop. I was ready to kick off this fantastic week.

A warm welcome was presented by Micky Denehy followed by our client’s briefing. The client’s brief made us clear that we had to think about a fantastic campaign to get McDonald’s back on track and involved into the lives of Czech teenagers. An easy task, you would think, but reality showed us differently. When meeting the other members of my team, it was clear that curiosity played a big role and that breaking rules of trust were crucial to get to know each other. Being able to be mixed with students and professionals was a real opportunity for most of us. Not only for me as a student -to get to know the taste of the advertising world- but also for the professionals to teach me valuable lessons.

“Being able to be mixed with students and professionals was a real opportunity for most of us”

Once settled in our groups, our minds were blown away by the first lecture from Dietmar Dahmen. A drill of thoughts whizzing through our heads. Within 2 hours we got so many impulses to think about the future and how revolutionary campaigns with new technology could really change the advertising world. I think that is when our campaign idea started to take shape into our heads.

At the end of a long day, we were more than welcome to grab some drinks and to get to know all the participants. It was great to know that everybody came for a different purpose or to learn other things. Inspiring people from all over Europe, networking and trying to pick up something to take back to their agencies. It was so different for me, all these new impulses while at the same time learning from past experiences. I have to say, I kind of felt like ‘finding Nemo’. A little lost, a little shy, but still brave enough to look around and discover what this summer school and professionals had to offer me!

The rest of the week we could account on two lectures a day, taking us through how algorithms changed the way advertising works or how strategic planning is important in your campaign, breaking your creative limits and what you really should do to understand the business of your client. Sigh, let’s be honest here. For a 19-year old girl like me, not all lectures were as interesting as my Instagram feed, but you know you pick up the bits and bobs together with the notes I tried to take. Paying attention for nearly 6 hours a day was a whole change for me, but when it got interactive I was more than pleased to get my voice out there.

“It was great to see how mixing international impulses made a delicious smoothie”

Of course, how could I forget about the great “BAAAAAAA…” exercise to showcase our presentation voices. How much I loved that lecture by Siobhan Stanley, it was not only interactive, it was a lesson you could take with you for the rest of your life and it certainly helped me for the pitch the next day.

Working until 08:00PM, a coke and a fresh salad every day, our hearts and souls were put into this campaign. Well, that coke and salad were meant sarcastically if that was not already clear… Of course, we had beer and burgers AND chocolate soufflés and just lots more fun. Good nights reassured! Truly needed after a stressful, hungry and nerve wrecking week. I couldn’t be happier than looking forward to Friday, getting to know all the different ideas from all the groups and to know who the grand winner of this week is.

It was great to see how mixing international impulses made a delicious smoothie, coming up with the best ideas and showing that cooperation within your group is crucial when making a campaign. For me it was just a wonderful experience. I did not only learn how to pitch or how to create a campaign within a short amount of time. No. What I took away from this is that there is so much more in the world to be curious about and that it is worth the effort for a student to get involved in as many things as possible to gain the knowledge and gratitude and to make friends for life. Because during those funny evenings, I know for sure that I’ll still be eating chocolate soufflés with those people back in Belgium!

Go for it and make the most memorable memories of the next EACA Summer School!

Hélène Colijn
My name is Hélène Colijn, I am 19 years old and currently a first-year student Communication Management at Thomas More university college in Mechelen, Belgium. A hardworking online social media guru, who loves to communicate and travel! I am always in to discover a little bit more of the world and to see it through a pink pair of sunglasses. Have fun, socialize and enjoy it!