As an International Relations major with a keen interest in policies concerning human rights, global development, and environmental sustainability, I had always hoped to intern with an organization or institution that deals with at least one of these policy areas. Never had I imagined that a single internship would expose me to most of my interests- which is exactly what my experience at the European Parliament did.
For my internship, I worked in the office of Dr. Miriam Dalli, a Maltese MEP (Member of the European Parliament) who serves on a range of committees including one which deals exclusively with environmental issues (ENVI), and another which broadly addresses human rights and civil liberties (LIBE). Because this was my first political internship, I had no idea about what to expect and was admittedly quite nervous. I also felt that my lack of experience with European politics would prevent me from being a successful intern. However, my office did a great job of showing me the ropes and taking a European Politics class at Vesalius College (which was part of the program) definitely made the learning process much easier.
Throughout my internship, I did several things- everything from taking notes at committee group sessions to editing and drafting speeches for my MEP. Coincidentally, my internship overlapped with the Maltese Presidency of the Council of the European Union and so I also go to a chance to attend exclusive cultural and social events that enabled me to learn a few things about Malta. These were amazing networking opportunities and I got a chance to rub shoulders with some of the big shots in European politics. Ultimately, my internship reaffirmed my interest in working within the realm of public policy.
Beyond my internship, I fell in love with Brussels and Belgium in general. The country is not as fast paced as the U.S but also not as low-key as my home, Zimbabwe. It is a great mixture of people, culture, AND… it has amazing beer! Brussels has a vibrant social scene (particularly at night) and I found the city very accessible. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to do a lot of international travel due to various visa requirements. Nonetheless, Belgium gave me far more than I bargained for and it definitely ranks high on the list of four countries I have lived in thus far.
In sum, the experience in Brussels was amazing and given the chance, I’d do it all over again.