It is always very hard to put into words your impressions after such an indescribable experience. But on the other hand, it is an attempt to release all these uniquely warm feelings and memories that, hopefully, would push someone to apply here as it worked one day for me.

IAYC suddenly burst into my life, turning my whole worldview upside down and stealing my heart. Without any exaggeration, I spent my best three weeks there.

From the very beginning, I had a feeling that this is a special place. The “oldies” were screaming, jumping on each other and this wave of happiness unexpectedly overwhelmed even us, “newbies”, so we started to scream and hug each other as well, even though we didn’t know the names. At first all these confusing gestures and words that “oldies” were constantly doing and saying annoyed us a little. “WHAT DOES THIS WEIRD “WOLOLOLO” MEAN?” – flashed through our heads, “WHERE ARE ALL THESE PEOPLE CARRYING THE NAP LEADER?” – we tried not to show how surprised we were, “IS THIS STUPID BOX OPEN OR CLOSED?!” – I dreamed.

But in just a couple of days (if not hours) you become a full-fledged part of it. And this is one of the warmest feelings you can ever have along with falling in love and burying your nose in the fur of a fluffy kitten. It feels like you finally found your place in this world, like you are at home. Then you forget about all the problems you suffered just a few days ago, the Internet and phone stop existing for you – the only thing you want is to dissolve in this unique atmosphere of the camp.

Now you are the last person who leaves the Sangria party and the first volunteer to participate in the tough “space mission” organized by people from astrobiology working group. The mission is basically about being locked with two other participants in a small bathroom for 10,5 hours at night without sleeping. Who could come up with such an insane idea? Undoubtedly, only people from IAYC! They thought that after such an experience you would sleep the entire day but you are unexpectedly full of energy again! (Even though a couple of hours ago you were dying in front of the tower made of marshmallows and spaghetti nearby the toilet…).

Yes, the energy constantly fills you here. And its source is people. I honestly have no idea how all of them could be so great and amazing, so kind and sincere, so open and understanding. 26 different cultures, religions, different histories – and they all are your family now. You can entrust them all your secrets and worries lying under the starry skies, and dance wildly together the whole next night, you can cry and laugh with them, you can be yourself.

IAYC is about freedom. No other place on Earth has given me such an unconditional feeling of freedom. Here I discovered my true self. Should I say how incredibly valuable it was for me?

And of course, the scientific experience. During the first working group session I honestly told my team leader Mike that “Dude, I am a total zero in programming”, and he responded just: “Oh, that’s cool!”. And it definitely was cool! It brought me so much excitement to learn how to make the solar system simulation from the very beginning in a cozy atmosphere of our working group, with cookies (not only browser ones) and the constant smell of ramen. WG sessions is a time when you find all these people surrounding you so clever and nerdy (in the best meaning of this word): 3D printer never stops working, the radio telescope is already being built on the football patch, and the table in your WG room is full of circuit boards and wires again, even after cleaning.

IAYC gave me the taste of absolute happiness and harmony as well as incredible fun. I remember how often I was happy to tears. It happened first when I genuinely “felt the moment” one night: some people were setting telescopes on my right, some others on my left were drawing with the light, the rest were lying together in the sleeping bags and talking being accompanied by the atmospheric music and sometimes interrupted by exclamations of amazement when the shooting stars appeared. It was such a magic moment that remained captured in my heart.

Here John Lennon’s well-known lines “Imagine all the people Living for today” and “Above us only sky” touch your soul at Singing evening as it did never before.

Here you explode with loud laugh during so hilarious traditional IAYC games and get used to dancing while eating your dinner.

Here you can try something completely new – starting with developing analog photos in the dark room and ending with the role of Chewbacca in the movie game.

Yes, you definitely experience a whole little life here, in a separate world. That is why it’s so difficult to leave this warm cozy bubble. The last day you just want to go around and absorb all these IAYC vibes like a sponge (but just after finishing your report, of course!). The cup notes you write become wet with tears and the hugs you get are incomparably tight now. But in a few days when you start reading your cup notes (Ok, who am I kidding – it’ll happen just at the train station) you will get more hopeful than sad because all of them end with the words “See you next year”. And now you’re sure that you will come back.

Maybe I was too sentimental here but it is just a sincere attempt to describe what IAYC means to me. It is more than science, more than fun, more than cultures – it’s about a little miracle in your life that can change a lot. And the only thing I regret is that I didn’t stumble upon this incredible place at least five years ago.

By Dasha