Most of us hear about the European Union in the news, and we know, more or less, that it represents several European countries in a united, global front.
But what happens when there are disagreements? Why is being a part of the European Union important to countries in Europe, both large and small? How does being a part of the European Union affect the currencies of these individual countries?
Students in Professor Terry Bang‚Äôs class were given an all-access pass to the offices of the European Commission, the executive branch of the European Union, in Brussels last week, where administrators discussed all this and more.
After a quick tour around Brussels, students had lunch at the offices of the European Commission and heard from presenters about the European Union‚Äôs role domestically throughout Europe.
‚ÄúI thought the function of what the European Union actually did was international,‚Äù said Katie Corbett, a marketing junior from Bentley University. ‚ÄúI knew what it stood for, but not actually what it does, and what influence it has throughout Europe.‚Äù
Other students said they were surprised to learn about the European Union‚Äôs role in the economy of several countries throughout Europe.
‚ÄúThe main thing I got out of it was the role of economic power vs. political power,‚Äù said Nick Bartlett, a sophomore from Santa Barbara City College. ‚ÄúI had never thought about it like that.‚Äù
Students also got the chance to meet a Semester at Sea alum, Marine Vallet, who decided she wanted to return to Belgium after a visit on her voyage two years ago, and secured herself an internship with the European Union.
‚ÄúI was really excited to go to the European Commission, I don‚Äôt think that‚Äôs an opportunity that most people get,‚Äù said Siettah Parks, a communication arts and sociology senior from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. ‚ÄúI also really liked getting to meet Marine. It was great to see someone who was once in our shoes, and where they are now.‚Äù