EPA Internships in Brussels, Belgium, clarified my future goals and gave me the resources to pursue them. Outside of the incredible internship placement however, the best part of this program is the wide variety of opportunities it allows. Having spent my fall semester in a more traditional study abroad program to better my French, I found EPA’s independence and variety of social circles a very welcome experience.
Through my two classes taken at Vesalius College, I was introduced to a circle of other international students all studying things similar to my majors. Through their orientation program and student government organized parties, I made a few close friends and other connections with people who I can network with in the future.
In the European Parliament, I was given effortless access to academic conferences and policy meetings. At a few I voluntarily attended, I met a researcher pursuing my specific area of academic interest and was given more resources to use when pursuing future study. At similar panel discussions, I met other interns who then in turn invited me to holiday parties and events I would not have found otherwise. And of course, the weekly “Place Lux” happy hour outside of Parliament that is attended by interns and parliamentary assistants allowed to meet some of my best friends and to interact with my colleagues outside of the office.
In addition to the groups of people at Vesalius and Parliament, the EPA program itself provided a small built-in group of friends who could empathize with my predicament of scheduling both interning and classes. My living situation of a home stay with a French-speaking family (and a cuddly cat!) allowed me to meet their network of family and friends, as well as get personalized suggestions on where the best places to meet future friends would be.
Having the wide variety of social circles could be difficult to juggle on busy weekend nights, but as always, the people make the experience. Without them, I would have adored the internship and gained the same career skills, but because of the variety EPA allows for, I have friends that make leaving at the end of the semester incredibly sad. How lucky I was to have an overall experience that made leaving so difficult.
Sarah Kennedy, Ohio Wesleyan University Class of 2018 (Brussels, Spring 2017)