As the capital of the European Union (EU), Brussels is a vibrant multinational city that is well adapted to its role. The city is centrally located among the EU Member States, and the Commission and Parliament buildings stand tall as destinations for politicians, students, and tourists from across Europe and the world. The EU institutions provide more than just a center for politics: there are EU-based art galleries and programming events, such as “Green Week,” which we encountered during the first week of the program. For my internship with the European Parliament (EP), I was placed with MEP Emma McClarkin, who represents the East Midlands region of the United Kingdom. Ms. McClarkin is a member of committees for Culture and Education, Internal Market and Consumer Protection, and International Development. As the office stagiare, I attended various meetings held by these committees, researched relevant issues, and traveled to the Parliament’s location in Strasbourg, France for one week to attend official voting and plenary sessions. The meetings and especially the large plenary sessions, with over 700 representatives from all 27 EU member states, gave me a fascinating inside view of the European system.
The EPA summer program in Brussels provided each participant with a unique experience, and the engaging environment set up by the EPA summer program furthered discussions of our varying academic backgrounds, personal interests and aspirations. The internship and housing arranged by EPA gave me a chance to travel and share experiences with both my European co-workers and American students, and for us to learn from one another’s backgrounds and perspectives. After traveling to nearby European cities – Paris, Amsterdam, and Cologne were easily accessible by train – and then returning home to the US, I was able to reflect more on my internship with the EP. Being immersed in another culture is a life changing experience, one that every student should include in his or her college program, and I continue to share memories with other students who were part of the EPA program. Brussels left a lasting impression and I look forward to once again enjoying the multilingual, multinational environment and breathing in the aroma of freshly baked Belgian waffles.