The French political science class – French name is “Les Enjeux Politiques de la France” – spent last weekend in Bruxelles, Belgium. We were lucky to visit the actual European Union institutions that we had studied in class with our professor, Hugo… and seriously, how often is it that you get to visit the center of the European Union?
We kicked off the visit with a visit to the European Parlement, speaking with a parliamentary assistant before touring the L’Hémicycle – the big room below with all of the chairs! We learned about the immense translating system (and a few of us realised we had to learn a few more languages before we could ever work for the EU as most speak around four or five).
After lunch, we visited Oxfam International; after a truly interesting presentation with Aurore Chardonnet, the EU policy advisor, we felt we had truly completed our understanding of different lobbying groups and the pressure that they put on the neighbouring European Union. We settled into our lodgings, and then explored Bruxelles à pied.
(Emma, an APA student from Brandeis, had fun imitating the dinosaur painting behind her during our tour.)
(Director Claire Suraqui and greeter Martine during our tour.)
The facades from the central square in Bruxelles reflected in a pavé puddle.
We finished our visit with a tour of Le Parlementarium, an interactive museum that offered a virtual voyage around Europe.
On the TGV back – which may be new my favorite way to travel around Europe! – we munched on Belgian chocolate and discussed how incredible it is to be a short (75 minute) train ride away from the center of the UN. You can’t beat the ability to visit, in-person, the institutions we had spoken about in class a few short weeks ago.