I arrived home a few days ago from Brussels but I am still describing to everyone my experience. I thought that being asked by all my acquaintances about my stay in Brussels will bother me as I will have to tell over and over again my story, but I was wrong. I am talking about it with pleasure, sometimes I even find myself talking about it without having been asked. I was exposed to many new stimuli and I enriched my experience so many ways that there is always something I have not yet told.
To most people the European Parliament is only a concept. They know where it is located and what its functions are, but it is only an unreachable institution. This is why I feel lucky to have had the opportunity to see all this in real. When the airplane took off, I knew, of course, where I was heading to as I had been learning for so many years about the European Union and its functioning, but I soon realised that manuals only ensure the basics. In order to get to know it for real you have to spend a few weeks there. I was lucky to spend not only a few days in that environment. Moreover, during my five months’ stay I could actively participate in the work carried out there. I was not only a spectator of the events but I was actively involved. I saw what a delegation meeting looks like, how busy and lively can be a public hearing, but I could also have an insight into the serious atmosphere of the group meetings. From the atmosphere full with energy of the interactive plenary sessions in Strasbourg, through the specific dialogue of the rapporteurs and shadow rapporteurs, ending with the work of the working groups I could gather some experience from everywhere. Yes, the key word in this case is experience. Someone can attend university, can read any book, but nothing compares to seeing with one’s own eyes the subject of their studies. I could do that. I do not say that this is the only thing that matters. It would be an illusion to think that someone could get along without information in such an environment. We do need a firm basis.
At first sight the Parliament in Brussels is like a small labyrinth, which is exponentially true to its sister in Strasbourg. So the first few days go by with trying to find your way. There is no better word for this than drifting, but as time goes by, there is a perfect system in the apparent chaos that clears out and gets shape before the eyes of the trainees. And this feels very good.
I was perfectly satisfied with my job. Although I received compulsory tasks, I also had the opportunity to attend events from my field of interest. And all this was wrapped in a harmonious work environment. Mr. Gyula Winkler MEP is a friendly and kind man who does not require good work but manages to have the group fulfil the assigned tasks with pleasure through authority. His assistants are helpful and prepared, but in such a smoothly functioning system this can be regarded as natural.
I got to know many trainees in whom I was glad to see something intangible what I also have. We had many common interests, after all, we were all there because of that, although, we were a colourful bunch. Looking back, in a way I see in us the metaphor of the European Union. In Brussels weather is often bad and food might taste a bit weird, but the city is wonderful and full of possibilities. Apart from the work in the Parliament I also had time to visit the famous places and yes, I also stroked Everaard’t Serclaes’s statue…