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PPE students visit Brussels

21 March 2024
On March 15, 2024, the PPE students taking the second-year elective ‘European Union: Institutions, Politics, and Policy’, embarked on a day trip to Brussels, where the major European Institutions are located.

The day started early at Amsterdam Centraal: The 22 students met at 6:30 to take the train to Brussels, arriving there at around 9:15. After some free time to walk around Brussels and get a coffee, they visited the Parliamentarium, the visitor centre of the European Parliament. At the Parlementarium they embarked on a multimedia tour on European integration and the inner workings of the Parliament. The next stop was lunch with former PPE student Amelie Tirtey. After completing her PPE Bachelor in summer last year, Amelie first completed an internship at Klenk & Hoursch AG in Berlin in Public Affairs Consulting. Currently, she is following the renowned Schuman traineeship - a 5-month traineeship at the European Parliament. Amelie is working in the Directorate General for Internal Policies - Legislative Affairs Unit (LEGI), advising parliamentary committees in the field of internal policies. She shared her experience of landing the traineeship at 22 with only a Bachelor’s degree (the average age of trainee in the European institutions is 27 and holds a Master’s degree):  her previous internship was in a relevant domain, which gave her application a boost. Next to explaining how she was accepted as an intern, she also recommended Brussels as a living place: “because around 1000 people do the EU traineeships simultaneously (the Schuman traineeship of the Parliament and the Bluebook traineeship of the Commission), it feels almost like a student exchange. You meet a lot of cool new people in a short amount of time”.

Thereafter, the students had free time to meet people in the ‘Brussels bubble’: a group of 8 students visited the Australian mission to the EU and met with three Australian diplomats, who shared their expertise on trade policy and regulations between Australia and the EU. Another group visited the Norwegian embassy, and one student met with a cabinet member of the Hungarian Commissioner. The meetings were organized by the students themselves - a great exercise in networking, and a foretaste of a possible career in Brussels.

Next, the group remet as 22 and visited the House of European History, which is an exhibition covering the History of Europe. It spans over four centuries and six floors - from the French Revolution to modern Consumerism and the establishment of the European Union.

Afterwards, the students had free time to explore Brussels - some got burgers at a famous burger shop, and others went for a stroll around the city. After a day of roaming around the Parliament and embassy buildings, they took the chance to leave the “EU bubble” and explore the diversity of Brussels. This included a poorer district with an immigrant population, as well as a big boulevard and enchanted side streets. “I fell in love with the city a bit, and I could even consider moving there and working for the EU”, a PPE student confessed. At last, the students met in a bar to try some famous Belgian beer, and evaluate the day. At 20:45, they took the train back home to Amsterdam, their minds full with a suitcase of new memories. It was only a day trip, but for some it might have been a glimpse into a future life.