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Trip To Brussels
Trip To Brussels
Claudia Cereceda, NYU Florence student
La Pietra Dialogues
November 28, 2014

This semester, a group of NYU Florence students participated in a student working group as part of the EU in Focus Series, which required not only attending the three lectures in the series, but also additional readings and research on two policy areas- immigration and the environment- in order to gain an understanding of two major policy issues within the EU and how policy making differs between the national and supranational level.

These students had the opportunity to travel to Brussels for their fall break in order to solidify the concepts they had learned and researched as well as allowing them to see how legislation is debated and implemented in the European Union.

The trip provided students with a unique experience to get an inside look at the various parts of the EU, including the European Council, European Commission, European Parlamentarium, and the US Mission to the EU. Additionally, students had the opportunity to interact and talk with various guest speakers including, Alain Ruche, an EU official working on strategic issues with the Secretary General of the EU External Service and Nora Kovacheva, an administrator for the Secretariat of Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety. They also met with representatives from two organizations - Friends of the Earth Europe and Platform for International Cooperation on Undocumented Migrants - that specialize in the policy focus areas that students had researched.

One highlight of the trip was the EU Parlamentarium where students participated in a role- play. In this simulation, students got to see how this democratically elected body works by being assigned as the Member of Parliament for a specific country and then being divided into political groups and asked to come up with solutions to issues like micro-chipping and water solidarity. This is by far one of my favorite parts of the trip because we got see how difficult it can be at times to try and come up with solutions in such a large institution like the EU. The role play helped emphasize the importance of discussion and compromise between the various member states in order to come up with the most efficient and favorable results possible.

A new component that was added to the Brussels trip this semester was a visit to the US Mission to the EU. This was such a great aspect of the trip because as American students we were very interested in finding out what the involvement of the United States is in Europe and why as Americans we should care about what is happening in the EU. Personally, I thought the U.S. would have more of an advisory role over the EU and I was surprised to find that instead it is more of a cooperation betweenh the EU and US working together on a variety of topics.

I think one of the most important aspects of studying abroad is learning not only about the culture and people of that place, but also gaining an understanding of the politics that govern the people. One of my fellow students, Allison Reid, explains it well, “I have the unique opportunity of studying in Florence for my entire junior year, and I believe that an important part of living in a foreign city involves understanding the culture and practices of its country. In the EU in Focus Series, I was able to study Italian politics and then apply this knowledge to the European scale as we visited each body.”

Overall, this was a wonderful experience for my fellow students and I and we are thankful to NYU Florence for offering such a incredible opportunity.

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