NCTJ

A trip to the European Parliament in Brussels.

This week I don’t have a blog post about the life of an NCTJ student, but a life of a trainee journalist in Brussels! From Monday-Wednesday I went on an all expenses paid trip to the European Parliament with 11 other aspiring journalists. I have never been great with Politics, and mostly relied on my Dad to tell me what is going on rather than watching the news. But this week has given me a great insight into the EU, improved my knowledge a huge amount about my opinions on issues regarding this and given me a great opportunity which I don’t think I would get again!

It was such a busy week and there is so much I could talk about, but having gone back to college today and realized I have loads to catch up on, Law homework, shorthand, PA revision etc etc, I am trying to keep it short. I was a bit snap happy throughout the whole three days to decided to tell my story through pictures! But before that, this is what we did:

  1. Had an introduction to the Press and Communication division at parliament, in the press room and facilities
  2. Visited the new Parliamentarium
  3. Met with five MEPS, 2 conservative, 1 labour, 1 green party and 1 lib dem where we could all fire questions at them
  4. Tour around the audio-visual facilities in parliament
  5. Went to the European Commission
  6. drunk beer
  7. ate food
  8. barely slept…

As you can see we were pretty excited about being on the Eurostar early Monday morning…

When we got to Brussels it was a pretty dull day, but the buildings were amazing. We got the tube, which I never really managed to work out how to use, to a place called Louiza where our hotel was. I was snapping along the way…

Once we had dropped our bags off, we went to the European Parliament. It is absolutely huuugee, an amazing building, so spacious as well inside. Here are the flags with some of the countries from the EU outside, unfortunately I didn’t get a full on front picture of the place, but a lot of the inside!

We got our press badges (felt very important) and were able to walk through to go to the press department. I noted the blue carpet…

This was once we had got let in our rooms, and realized that we had huge ones with two double beds in EACH. Although we didn’t get to spend much time in there, they were pretty lush, especially as we didn’t pay a penny!

On the first night we had our free meal and met with two journalists in Brussels, Geoff Meade and Rory Watson. We got three courses and unlimited free flowing wine too! Obviously I took a picture of my food – this was the duck pate I had for starter. We went to the main square in Brussels for dinner and it was nice to walk through at night!

After dinner we left the teachers and went to a bar – had a very big beer – missed the last tube – walked and got a bit lost home.

The next morning there was a choice to go to the economic and monetary committee or the new Parliamentarium. I decided to go for the latter and it was a great experience to learn about the history of the EU. It was very futuristic, as we all had these hand-held iPod devices and headphones, which swiped against things inside to give us information. There was loads of interactive things to do too which made it more interesting.

The picture below is quite blurry, but those stand things moved around across a map on the floor and once it went over a country, it told you about their relationship with the EU. Fancy!

We then had a nice break and a coffee before a WHOLE afternoon packed with meetings and journalists, some of which got quite heated!

These are all the floors in the EU… now you can understand how big it is!

On our second evening we went out to find somewhere cheap to eat, and managed to secure 3 courses and a free beer for 12 Euros! We decided to purchase the ‘strongest beer in Belgium’ after, which was 12.5% and called Bush…

On the last day we got to go to the European Commission. This is where all the workings of the EU goes on, it is like the civil service in Britain. We went in on a press meeting about the economy, where journalists were able to pose questions to the experts. It was really fascinating as above us behind glass were all the translators for the 27 member states of the EU, translating whatever language was being spoken about 1 word behind them.

This is walking up to the Commission building, huge, again!

Finally, on our last day we had a couple hours spare to go site seeing. We went to the main central square, the buildings are amazing and my pictures just didn’t do it justice!

A very swift tour through the trip, but I’m very aware at my to-do list staring next to me and know I should probably be doing that first instead of reminiscing about Brussels!

Now back to college, exams and practicing shorthand!

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