DeVan – As I know these little charms add to this amazing experience. Today began like any other day: early. We were off first thing to visit the European Council and in the bustle of the daily happenings of the European Union bureaucrats, journalists, etc. we had the honor of meeting with an organizer of the news conferences that happen after the Summit meetings of the EU Member State Heads. Sit here drying out after a long afternoon navigating through Belgium in pouring rain to Waterloo, I can’t help but think about that we sat in the meeting room of the European Council and listened as he explained how a normal meeting would be orchestrated and updated our group on some of the recent meetings that have happened in the last week and will happen in the next few weeks as well. I sat where the Portuguese Prime Minister would sat while Dr. Mikek represented his native Slovenia to my right. I was blown away by how informed he was of American politics past and present and while we continue to be challenged by the complicated integration of the European Union’s institutions, his personal insights added more context on where some view the European Union is headed in the future.
After our visit we had some time before our adventure to Waterloo in the afternoon. Surprisingly, Waterloo is not as marketed as you might expect. You’d think that the battle brought peace to Europe in the 19th century would be a hub of tourist attraction and vibrant area. While it was busy with people, it was very clear how infrequently “foreigners” visit these parts. After we left the museum and trekked up 226 steps to the top of the hill constructed about a decade after the war in honor of those that fought and died on the battlefield, we began the walk back from Waterloo getting drenched in none other than good old fashioned Belgian rain. Took no more than 500 meters for us all to be soaked and trying to figure out when the bus would come to head back to the train and then Brussels. The bus came and an air band composed of myself, Carter, Connor, and Sky were in the back of the bus jamming to Journey and at least the people in the back of the bus found it entertaining. A girl about our age found us so interesting that she followed us for a while and asked what Americans were doing Brussels. She also recommended that we might find better work than a traveling air band.
I’ve been around the world a bit, and every time I am more appreciative of these opportunities. These experiences will stay with me and we have a great group of guys and two great professors who have continued to open our minds and challenge us in and outside of the classroom. By the end of today several of us were ready to work for the European Union and the prospect of going home, at least for me, is bittersweet. Going back after living this life and immersing myself at every opportunity will be difficult, but being able to afford this opportunity to students in the future once I graduate this year will also be just as cool. If you ever, and I mean ever…ever, get the opportunity to go anywhere in the world, take it. Whether it be Germany, Kenya, anywhere; because the beauty of experiencing a new world, a new way of thinking, and always meeting new people never gets old and affects you in ways that can’t be articulated.
I would like to give a special thanks to Drs. Hollander and Mikek for taking on this amazing journey and to the Rogge Fund for donating the capital to continue this tradition of European immersion. Au-revoir!