The best way to experience EU in Brussels

IGC students of the Master in European Studies (MES) traveled to the institutions of the European Union in Brussels in November 2022. The following is a travelogue by Mikhael Angelo Sanchez, MES student.

After a month-long warm welcome from the International Graduate Center, here we are, the MES class of 2022-2023, on our way to Belgium’s capital to discover a new perspective on the latest issues and updates from the European Union of today. Of course, for international students with limited knowledge of Europe and its society, this is absolutely an exciting avenue to get a better grasp of the course, which opens the window of opportunities for better learning, social awareness, and exploration too!

“EU answers to the world crisis and transformations”

With the much-anticipated tight schedule, we made sure to have enough time for traveling, so we all arrived at our hotel room on a cold Sunday afternoon. We did not know what else to expect, although we were informed prior that this was going to be an intensive five-day event with 58 participants from four universities in Latvia, Germany, Switzerland, and Kazakhstan. This was the annual Brussels Week Seminar organized by the 3D (diverse, democratic, and dynamic) Europe Network, carrying this year’s theme: “EU answers to the world crisis and transformations”. The event was held from November 6-11, 2022.

Day 1 – as early as 8:30 am in the morning, we gathered at the conference room of our hotel to officially kick off the event and go through the agenda of the week. Attendance was checked, and everyone dressed up looking like ministers. Some were still sleepy, yet after a few minutes, we knew it was time to leave the Citadines Apart’hotel to catch our first session at no less than the EU Council!

Visit of the European Commission

The next stop was at the second of the three main law-making bodies of the European Union, the Commission. Here, hot topics like the current War in Ukraine, Energy, and Tax challenges were discussed, and all paid serious attention to details, even our very own Professor Christiane Trüe.

As the following days went by, more controversial topics and issues were covered, and political quarters were explored. Indeed, there is a lot more going on in Brussels than pure lobbying and legislation. Some groups based here promote good business models for the future. For instance, we visited the actual site of Greenbizz. We found inspiration on how to develop a more sustainable business that is both good for profit and for the environment. Talk about responsible innovation and sustainability!

I must say that there was no opportunity left untapped during this trip. With back-to-back appointments completed, questions raised, and networks linked, the entire group felt there were plenty of things to discover in this city in so little time. But wait! How could we simply enjoy this exceptional experience if no fun times were included? All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy, right?

Brussels is worth a trip 

In sum, the best way to learn about the European Union is to visit the place where most of the influential people are located to witness how the real action happens. Not only will this solidify the essential knowledge we picked up from school, but the trip will also provide a more profound sense of understanding. One can choose to visit the city of Frankfurt, Luxembourg, or Strasbourg. However, in our case, it was the best in Brussels!