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My Last Night in Belgium

17 May

The time has come for me to say goodbye to Belgium. Some days I feel like I’ve been here forever, while others I feel like I just got here last week. It is hard to put into words what this experience has meant to me. I can honestly say that I am not the same person I was when I got to Europe 9 months ago. I have had so many opportunities, has so many experiences, and befriended so many amazing people. But I have to say goodbye for now Brussels. It’s been an crazy, amazing year.

In honor of this moment, here are some pictures from my last night out in Brussels with cousin Caleigh and roommate Lindsay. We had a great dinner out, had some Belgian beer, and enjoyed waffles!

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I Love History…and It’s All Her Fault

7 May

This is written by a fellow Scottie at Agnes Scott. It has nothing to do with studying abroad except for the fact that this professor is one of the reasons that I have been so successful while abroad. I absolutely adore Professor Morris!

Working With Networking

10 Mar

I know that it has been a while since my last update, but between school, my internship, and traveling, I have been strapped for time to just sit down and write something. However, now that midterms are officially done, I have a good 5 minute break. 🙂 This post I am going to give a little background as to what I’m doing at my internship this semester and the experiences that I am receiving.

Macedonia on a Map of Europe

Macedonia on a Map of Europe

This semester I am an intern with the Mission of the Republic of Macedonia to the European Union. This is just a really long name to say that it is the representation of the Macedonian government at the EU. The relationship between these two entities is interesting because Macedonia is not an EU member state, but instead they are a candidate state. This means that Macedonia is in the process of reforming enough to become an EU member state. Macedonia has been a member state since 1995, but they are currently stuck in the stage before negotiations are opened due to a dispute about the name “Macedonia” (I won’t go into the dispute right now, but write a comment at the bottom if you would like a brief description). However, even though they are not a member state, the EU and Macedonia have a number of cooperation agreements, as the EU has been present in the country and the greater Balkan region since the Yugoslavia split-up in the 1990s.

My job here is to be support for the mission staff. I start everyday by doing a media review. To do this, I browse news sources from both Europe and North America and look for references to Macedonia and other Balkan states, as well as other important states such as Bulgaria and Greece. Once completed, this review is sent to the mission staff and some headlines are used to update the mission’s Facebook and Twitter accounts. Though that is my main job for the three days a week that I am working, I also have other responsibilities. One of the most tedious but the most interesting job I do is gather, read, and analyze European Parliament Resolutions that the mission staff feel are important to understand deeper. My favorite part of my job is when they send me out into Brussels to attend think tank events. I usually go to about 1-2 of these a week, and I am attending so many that I have run into the same man from the European Commission 5 times and he and I have discussed different organizations that I should look into for future employment. The topics are also interesting. I’ve attended events on the European economy, the international response in Syria, the relaunching of negotiations in Cyprus, the accession process of Montenegro and the other Balkan countries into the EU, and the future of the European External Action Service. After these events I then write up a report that gets sent out to the others at the mission.

All in all it is a great place to work. It is an amazing atmosphere and the people are so kind to me. The first day in the office they took me to eat at a traditional Macedonian restaurant, and I never go a day in my office (which I have to myself) without them coming in to check if I’m doing okay. This is probably the second best internship I’ve ever had behind the Atlanta History Center (kind of hard to beat the Swan House).

Me at the Macedonian Mission

Me at the Macedonian Mission

Back At It!

21 Jan

Well, the second semester has officially commenced, meaning I’m back at classes. Though I’m continuing with a second semester packed to the brim of political science classes (I’m starting to have history withdrawal), I do have one random elective for the semester. I also don’t have any classes on Tuesdays or Thursdays (though I’m hoping that will soon be filled with an internship). So, here they are!

Government and Politics of Global Powers

As stated in the syllabus, this course “analyses the challenges of Global Governance and the role played by emerging countries (BRICS) in the new global order.” What are the BRICS you might wonder? Well, that is the fun new acronym (because International Relations and Political Science didn’t already have enough) for the emerging world powers: Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa. So this course looks at those states (except South Africa, don’t ask why) along with different international institutions, like the UN and IMF, to see how they are changing international political arrangements. I think it will be an interesting class. I really don’t know much about any of the BRICS states, and the professor seems really knowledgeable. She comes with years of experience working in almost every part of the UN.

International Organizations and Global Governance

I had the professor I have for this course in two courses last semester and he is great, which makes me super excited for this course! As you may be able to infer, this class will be interacting a lot with the first class on this list, and vice versa. This course looks at how international organizations, such as the UN, NATO, EU, AU, WTO, and others, work to try and establish global governance. They really do have the best professor to teach this course as well, since he is the director of the Global Governance Institute (a think tank here in Brussels).

History of Political Thought

I have not been to this class yet, so I’ll let you know if it is as interesting as I hope it will be. What this course will be is an evaluation of political theory and the big political theorists in relation with the historical context that they were writing in and how that continues to be applied today. We will study theorists from Machiavelli, to Hobbes, to Marx, and many more along the way. This course has a pretty daunting term paper, but it is supposed to be a cross between a politics and history course, so I’m excited to see what I’m in for. Maybe I won’t have much of a history withdrawal after all?

Introduction to Psychology

I don’t think I really have to explain what this class is all about. Can you guess which class is my free elective this semester? 🙂

Diplomacy and International Negotiations

I think this is the course that I’m the most excited for! It is divided into two parts. The first part of the course focuses on the theory behind diplomacy and international negotiations. The second part will look at specific examples of successful and failed attempts and diplomacy and international negotiations. It also looks like I’ll be taking a country and having the responsibility to speak on their behalf for some negotiations in different areas, such as peace and security, the environment, international trade, etc. It will definitely be challenging, but interesting.

So there you are; my exciting schedule for the semester! If I get my internship I will have to drop one of those classes, and I don’t know which one I will pick, but it looks to be a fun and challenging semester! If you have any questions, just drop me a note below in the comments section.

P.S. I have officially updated my contact information, for those of you who were looking for my new mailing address!

My Goals–Revisited

19 Jan

When I got to Brussels, I made a list of my 5 goals for studying abroad. Coming into the New Year, I decided to revisit those 5 goals and reevaluate them for the new semester. Here they are!

Goal 1: Try New Foods!

I think this might have been one of my more exciting goals of the semester. I’ve had frites, waffles, and beer in Belgium, frites speciaal in the Netherlands, bratwurst in Germany, fish and chips in London, and Guinness in Dublin. Also, I no longer despise fish! This semester: I want to try and cook some of these dishes. I have a great kitchen at my host family’s house, so I intend to use it!

Goal 2: Travel in Country!

So, I kind of failed at this one. I did a lot of traveling, but not much through Belgium. I spent a day with Hannah in Namur and a week playing tourist in Brussels with Alex, but nowhere else. This semester: Just do it! 🙂 I just need to get out and take those day trips. I still want to go to Bruges, Ieper, Bastogne, Antwerp, and more.

Goal 3: Make friends!

This was the most successful of my goals. I made a TON of friends! The hard part is that they are all back in the US now. This semester: I guess I’ll just have to make new friends. Oh darn. 😉

Goal 4: Learn the Language!

I don’t think I did as much as I could with this. I had a French host family, but I didn’t really speak to them much in French. I didn’t end up getting into the French class that I needed for Agnes, so I guess I’ll have to do this on my own. This semester: I think what I’m going to start doing is getting a French newspaper to read on the 45 minute tram ride to or from school everyday. That should give me plenty of time to brush up a little.

Goal 5: Study, study, study!

Okay, so I probably didn’t do as much as I should have. I didn’t have the best of grades, but I didn’t have the worst either. I did get to have a ton of out-of-class learning though. One way was through the European Peace and Security Studies program where I got lectures from Karen Smith of the London School of Economics, Johan Galtung, the founder of peace studies, Dr. Christian Koch of the Gulf Research Center, and many more. I also found some great museums both in Brussels and in other cities around Europe. This semester: Spend more time studying for my actual classes.

In front of NATO HQ

In front of NATO HQ

NATO HQ (Fall Break Day 4)

2 Nov

I know I skipped day 3, but all I did on fall break day 3 was relax and buy a top-up for my cell phone. I decided that day was okay to skip. However, I think my adventures on day 4 completely makeup for being boring the day before.

A couple weeks ago, I attempted to get in contact with the commander of American Legion Paris Post 1 to try and arrange a visit. Between the time I contacted him and when I got a response I decided not to go to Paris, but he had an alternate suggestion for me. He informed me that he lives in Brussels and works at the U.S. Mission at NATO Headquarters and invited me to get a personal tour of the grounds. He later emailed me and asked for my resume and topics of interest so that he could arrange for policy experts to sit down and talk with me.

When I arrived at NATO, we instantly went into a tour of the main area of headquarters. He even got special permission from security to take my picture at different places around the headquarters!

My first meeting was with a Lt. Colonel who is one of the leading experts with the U.S. Mission to NATO on the ISAF mission in Afghanistan. We discussed the future of the ISAF mission, what will possibly happen in regards to NATO involvement in Afghanistan after the 2014 exit, and the future of NATO missions in general. My second meeting was with a Foreign Service political officer from the state department whose job is to keep apprised of the changes in the status of potential member states to NATO. We discussed the future of NATO expansion and what it is like to be a Foreign Service officer, which is what I want to be in the future. She then introduced me to another Foreign Service officer who came to the state department through a fellowship program. He and I discussed the specific steps I could take to ensure the best chance of being accepted to the state department.

All in all, it was a very successful and informative day in which I made amazing contacts for the future!

Gallery

Dusseldorf, Germany- 20 October 2013

21 Oct

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