I was awarded the PGAF along with a number of other members of the Edinburgh Universities Debates Union. We used the money to support our trip to Serbia in the last week of July to attend the European Universities Debating Championship, one of the largest competitions in the world. You compete against nearly two hundred other teams in at least nine rounds spread over three days, with a vast array of topics. This year’s motions (which you get just fifteen minutes to prepare for, without access to the internet or any materials you didn’t print) ranged from international relations – “This House, as Colombia, would cease all cooperation with the USA in the War on Drugs” – to media – “This House regrets the increasing trend of popular shows featuring neurodivergence as the central theme” – and feminism, with the final being “This House regrets the shift in the #MeToo movement from victims sharing their experiences to holding specific public figures to account”. One of our teams came 24th in the competition, making it to the knock-out rounds, which was a fantastic achievement.
On either side of the tournament, we had the opportunity to spend some time in Budapest and Belgrade. Both are excellent cities if you get a chance to go. Budapest’s baths are expensive but well worth the investment for a day, particularly in the summer. If nightlife is your thing, the unique ruin bars – old industrial buildings repurposed as bars and clubs – are really worth a visit. Belgrade, on the other hand, has an expansive and rich history, and there are an array of tours you can go on to gain a greater appreciation for the history of a region which is often missed out of European current affairs commentary and education.
Some things worth bearing in mind. Serbia is an extremely smoker-friendly country, which means that hotels, bars, and most buildings will be enveloped in a fine mist of cigarette smoke at all times. It can take some getting used to. The border between Serbia and Hungary has an extremely long and unpredictable wait time which isn’t mentioned in the journey times of the buses between the two countries. A significant proportion of our friends missed their flights as a result. However, Serbia is an extremely welcoming place for tourists. The majority of people you meet will be very happy to see a tourist in their country, and they will often go out of their way to be accommodating.
Another successful trip for EUDU, generously supported by the PGAF.