Perfect program for those interested in European politics! Past Review

By (University of Rochester) - abroad from 08/19/2012 to 12/16/2012 with

EPA Internships in Europe: Brussels - Vesalius College

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
The workings of European Institutions as well as many inspiring, smart people who are in politics. Without the connections of EPA, I would have never earned the invaluable experience in European politics.

Personal Information

How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? 6 months+

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

This is a fantastic program for non-EU students who are interested in pursuing an internship with the European Parliament and gaining hands-on experience in the workings of the EU institutions.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

The program director, Ms. Ruby Bhambra, was very helpful in helping students register for residency in Brussels as we were all required to register with the local government. She also offered useful tips and insights in excelling at my internship.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

The apartment was located in Place du Chatelain, the trendiest area in Brussels populated with artists and spats. I enjoyed going to the outdoor markets that were only a few blocks away from my apartment. The apartment was also close to the main bus and tram stops - very convenient. The only tradeoff for the location is size and privacy - a 20~25 sq meters (215-269 sq feet) apartment with bunk beds, furnished living room, fully equipped kitchen, and bathroom that was shared among 3 people. I would say that this is the only downside to the program.

* Food:

Brussels, as the capitol of Europe, is a very cosmopolitan city with a large selection of cuisines from different countries. I loved getting local produce at the open-air markets that were easy to get to on the weekends - prices are usually affordable at the last half hour of the market when all the produce go on sale. The venders can speak in English pretty well and are always very friendly as well! Food at the European Parliament cafeterias are subsidized, so that was helpful to my budget as well.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

Giving students lots of freedom to explore, I found invaluable friendship with local students as well as interns at the European Parliament. As there is a large xpat community in Brussels, there are a lot of social events that allow students to meet other foreigners and explore Belgium together.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

There are pharmacies all over the cities, and the pharmacists were very helpful when I had a cold.

* Safety:

Just like any city, Brussels has neighborhoods that are safer than others. Pickpockets are said to be prevalent, so I always kept an eye on my bag in public areas and on the bus. As long as you are careful, Brussels is a safe city to live in.

If you could do it all over again would you choose the same program? Yes

Finances

* Money: How easily were you able to live on a student's budget?

(1 = not very easy/$200+ on food & personal expenses/week, 2.5 = $100/week, 5 = very easily/minimal cost)

Brussels isn't a very expensive city compared to the rest of the major cities in Western Europe and even major cities in the US.

Language

* Did your program have a foreign language component? Yes
How much did the program encourage you to use the language?

0 = No encouragement, 5 = frequent encouragement to use the language

I was able to practice French with many of my friends, and also picked up some Dutch from daily uses (like announcements at bus stations and my Flemish friends.) My basic understanding in French also came in handy at my internship from time to time.

How would you rate your language skills at the beginning of the program? Beginner
How would you rate your language skills at the end of the program? Intermediate
What was the highest level language course you had completed prior to departure? Beginner French
How many hours per day did you use the language?

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Apartment
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • Americans
* Who did you take classes with?

Select all that apply

  • International Students
About how many local friends did you make that you will likely keep in touch with?

A Look Back

* What did you like most about the program?
  • Learnings about the European Union
* What could be improved?
  • It would be better if there is more detailed and updated information about housing for students
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? I wish that I had learn Dutch before going on this program, in order to maximize the language opportunities I encountered.

Reasons For Studying Abroad

To help future students find programs attended by like-minded individuals, please choose the profile that most closely represents you.
The Networker
An active student leader, it was important for you to network abroad as well. Once overseas, you sought out student clubs, volunteered with local organizations, or attended community events. You encouraged your friends join you, and often considered how you could reflect your international experiences in a resume.