Tag Archives: NATO

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

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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!