Museums, role playing, waffles, chocolate, without a doubt Day 2 in Brussels was filled to the brim with back-to-back activities that kept us on our feet 24/7.
Thankfully, we all got a good night’s sleep since our adventures were only scheduled to start at 10 am. So right after a nostalgic and finger-licking-good American breakfast, we all meet in the hotel lobby to begin our walk to the Parlamentarium.
The European Union’s Parlamentarium is the visitors’ center of the European Parliament. The attraction is not only educational, but also extremely engaging. Its main objective is to lead visitors through the creation of the European Union and the ins and outs of the European Parliament.
We started off our visit with an interactive role playing game. The simulation had us pretending we were Ministers of the European Parliament. It even divided us into different political parties and gave us objectives on which we had to reach a consensus.
The process undergone by proposals before becoming directives was the entire basis of the game. We experienced how ministers of parliament work within the Committees, the European Parliament itself, and even inside the party’s offices.
“To see what they go through, not only on a day-to-day basis, but also how the laws are passed. It’s hard to compromise. For me personally, I would have preferred being in a different political party that disagreed more with my own personal views. I definitely agree that it gave me a better understanding of how the European Union works, which is why I wanted to come here” NYU Florence student Isabel Schmieta kindly gave her opinion on the stimulating experience.
And the day did not stop there. Two museums came into play after our lunch at the Parliamentarium’s café. We first visited the Parliamentarium’s own museum. The exhibit was organized in such a way that as you walked through the institution, you were going through a timeline of the European Union. Videos, complimentary audio recordings, and interactive displays all led you through the European Union’s way of coming into being and the various challenges its even facing today.
By the time we exit the building, it is 3 pm and we are ready to move on to our next activity: the Magritte Museum. The Magritte was a 20-minute walk from the Parliamentarium—a great excuse to see some of Brussels’ tourist attractions and insane architecture. The name kinda hints at what the museum focuses on: surrealist Belgian artist René Magritte.
Trust me, you know who René Magritte is. Ever heard of the picture of the pipe with the footnote: “ceci n’est pas un pipe”.
If you haven’t, now you have. That’s the guy.
The museum held an extensive collection of his works. Including student Matilda Mahne’s favorite: Treasure Island. Take a look.
We wrapped up the evening with a dinner at ‘Le Cercle des Voyageurs’ composed of a 3-course meal, salmon and all. Can’t remember when was the last time I ate at that level ever since I went into college.
But the best is yet to come. Tomorrow, Monday October 29th, we will be meeting with political administrators and general secretariats at the European Commission. Stay tuned.