This Summer, the Go Abroad fund allowed me to go on a course in Brussels called the Summer School for Young Leaders. This intensive course allowed me an insight into the workings of the European organisations that are fundamental to our daily lives. Not only did I visit different areas of the EU headquarters, I also met with diplomats and was able to network with people from so many different places with so many different stories. This gave a me truly deep insight of the European Union, one which I would never have had the opportunity to have without the Go Abroad fund.
Before the trip, I did have some concerns about my place on the course, primarily as someone coming from the UK. Would I be the only British person to go? Would the course be relevant to me and my goals, with Brexit likely to happen in the near future? Whilst I did turn out to be the person from the UK that attended the course, this was only a positive thing – many of my peers were excited to hear my opinion on Brexit and my account of the way it was being handled at home. As for the relevance of the course to my own development, I was completely wrong to be concerned. The diplomats on the course made it clear that Britain will still have strong ties with the EU without being a member, and that this relationship will require a lot of work from both sides to construct and maintain. Thus, understanding the place of the EU in the world is still highly relevant in my goal to pursue a career in policy making.
Whilst my time in Brussels had to sadly be cut short, the trip taught me so much about the significance and vastness of the EU. Just in being in Brussels, I was confronted with the many, many buildings dedicated to European politics. Considering the thousands of individuals that work in those hundreds of buildings, it is clear that the EU impacts more aspects of our lives than one might originally think. Thanks to the Go Abroad fund, I have a much greater understanding of European politics and the challenges that it will soon face.