My study abroad experience in Brussels, Belgium far exceeded my expectations. Prior to going abroad I conducted hours and days and weeks of research about what to bring, what to expect, and how to act in Europe.
I was mostly hesitant about my internship at the European Parliament. I did not know what I would encounter in the day-to-day work life nor was I sure about the differing office dos and don’ts. Luckily the most amazing Ms. Jennifer Palumbo prepped and primed me for everything I need and should know about interning in the European Parliament, from what to wear to how to speak. Also throughout my time in Brussels Jennifer facilitated a number of workshops to help in being more comfortable in the new work environment. I learned how to properly negotiate my schedule, how to incorporate prior and newly acquired skills to me resume, and how to effectively speak about myself to future employers.
Working in the European Parliament was as exciting as one could imagine. Constantly being surrounded by dignitaries and policy makers was the best part of everyday. People from all over the world would come and go speaking all different types of languages discussing international issues and I got to experience all of it. My particular office encouraged me to explore and participate in as many meetings and events as possible which taught me so much about local and international affairs as well as providing me with possibly the best networking opportunity of all time.
As far as living in Brussels, it was certainly intimidating at first. I have never been so far from home for such a long time. Initially I spent most of my time in the apartment sparingly going out to explore. Later on I became more comfortable with going out and making new friends throughout the city. I really got in touch with the culture of Brussels and enjoyed every waffle, bar, and picturesque building I saw as my own home.