Variety in diversity

Instead of starting my second bachelor year of International Relations in Dresden, I started it in the city of international politics in Europe. I spend two months of doing an internship in Brussels dealing with smart innovation and energy policies.

After few weeks living in Brussels I did understand why the EU institutions are located in this city. As the EU is based in a country with five parliaments, in a town with three official languages and in a district where the main underground station has been reconstructed with little result since 2008.
If the EU survives in Brussels, than it can without any doubts handle the European integration.

The “European Bubble”

I spend the first two weeks of September learning French so I can at least ask for an underground during my internship. But there were not so many opportunities to speak French. If you have the office at Rond Point Schuman, opposite the EU Commission than you meet Belgians just at the counter in Carrefour. But also there they address you automatically in English.

The people who are with pleasure living in this environment are complaining about it as the “EU Bubble”. The majority of  “Schuman People“* almost never meets Belgians, not to mention that they will never visit the part of the city where the forty thousand Moroccan minority lives. The life of those working in the EU quarter takes place in an international working environment of the EU institutions, companies or state, regional, municipal etc. EU representations. They usually work at least ten hours a day. Often they are so-called DiMiDo, a German expression for people who are arriving Tuesday morning and leaving on Thursday night. In the evening or during the lunch brake Schuman People attend one of the hundred meetings, symposiums or conferences, which take place every week. This political, scientific or cultural program is always on the edge between work, personal interest and networking (meeting people for business reasons). Especially those, who are in Brussels new or are doing an internship, participate in one event after another.

As the previous paragraph could be interpreted as criticism of the EU Bubble, I will try to point out the positive aspects now. Most of those I met in Brussels were living there for a fixed, often very short period. Aware of this fact and due to the political character of their work, they make Brussels an incredible lively place of discussions about current events in politics, research and culture.

The people are not at home here, they are not set in well-known structures, so they are very communicative. The load of conferences, business meetings and think thanks is making meeting people even easier. I participated myself in four events a week, not counting the lunch-meetings and breakfast briefings in think thanks. For two months I became at eye witness of the EU legislative process. I was a part of the carousel where the representatives of companies, NGOs and science are persuading the politicians. The discussion is running on a very high level because “to be perfectly informed” is part of their work and to be sharp in argumentation is an application requirement.

Few notes about the city

Like in the social dimension in the urban situation the city is not fitting together and could be sometimes viewed as absurd. Half of the art Nouveau buildings were demolished to make space for new living or office blocks (just a small part of them for the EU). The people of Brussels buried their river Senne to tunnels and in the former riverbed they built the boulevard Anspach. In the streets are small nineteen-century working-class houses standing next to huge eight-store buildings from the seventies. I just have to add, that the city has no central administration and the districts are diverse in inhabitants as well as services.

Despite of all the criticisms, I discovered many nice places, cafes and parks with hundreds of parakeets in Brussels.

Studying in an other way

To leave for two months to Brussels for an internship as soon as after the first year of my studies was a right decision. There is no better place for figure out how much I learned in the first year. There is no better environment for gaining inspiration on what to concentrate on in the future studies.

Lets go back to Dresden.

* My expression for the people in suits and with briefcases in their hands running around the EU Commission.


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