Hello everyone! My name is Jennifer Joseph and I am currently studying abroad in Brussels, Belgium. I am a junior at the University of Rochester, double majoring in International Relations and French.
I chose to study abroad in Brussels for a variety of reasons. When it came to study abroad, I knew that I wanted to go to a francophone country, so that I could strengthen my French language skills. I also wanted to go somewhere relevant to my International Relations degree. When I heard about the EPA program in Brussels, I realized that it would combine my two majors: I would be able to take two courses and an internship related to my major, while being immersed in a French speaking society.
To be very honest, my three weeks here in Brussels so far has had its ups and downs. It took some time to get adjusted to how society runs in Brussels. I’ve traveled numerous times to Europe for vacation. In past, the longest time I’ve spent abroad was 2.5 weeks. Prior to my departure for Brussels, I was a little nervous, mainly because it was my first time in Brussels and I didn’t really know what to expect.
The first week here was orientation week, so we had a lot of free time. One of the highlights of that week was walking to the Grand Place with my friend from our apartment building. It was a really long walk, about an hour, however it was our way of exploring Brussels. Having gone to the Grand Place several times during my stay here, it has become my favorite spot in Brussels. I absolutely love how the buildings light up at night; it is so stunning. I also like little shops around the area as well.
Last week, my classes at Vesalius College started. I am taking two courses, one called the Legal Aspects of Migration, and the other called, International Humanitarian Law. I am excited to be taking these classes, since they would help me greatly with my career path in international law. I have a strong interest in human rights and another reason why I was really excited about studying in Brussels was the fact that European institutions have strong human rights programs and taking courses would allow me to get connections with professors who have done amazing things in their fields.
I also started my internship last week as well. I am currently interning at the European Parliament for a MEP. So far, I really like my internship and I am learning a lot about European Institutions. I am also learning a lot about how the EU interacts with non-EU states and how legislation is made. One of the highlights of my internship was that I got to sit in on the voting rounds. The debates can get entertaining but is a great learning experience nonetheless.
In my second weekend in Belgium, I had the chance to go to Bruges. I was in awe of the beauty of Bruges. The city looks as if came out of a fairytale, with its medieval building structures. There were a lot of canals; in fact, it is known to be the Venice of the North. Overall, it is a wonderful place to go to for a day trip, as it is only 1.5 hours away and bus tickets to get there are not expensive.
Brussels, overall, is a very beautiful city. It’s definitely not a large city, but it’s a big city indeed. There is so much to explore, and I cannot wait to see more of Brussels, Belgium, and Europe in the next 4 months!
Jennifer Joseph, University of Rochester (Brussels, Spring 2019)