First and second year A Level students studying History, Languages, Law, Politics and Government had the opportunity to travel to Brussels for a three day visit, by invitation of Clare Moody, MEP for the South West and Gilbraltar.
Travelling out by coach and Eurotunnel we arrived in France by early afternoon. Our first port of call was the very moving First World War Commonwealth cemetery, Tyn Cot, near the town of Ypres in western Belgium. Students were encouraged to find the stories behind the names of those who had fallen there. These stories are inscribed in memorial books which can be found in niches around the cemetery.
The following day we travelled to Brussels from our Hotel in Waterloo. Snow was beginning to fall making the landscape very picturesque. We arrived in central Brussels and were amazed at how large the area around Parliament is and how much construction is going on around it. To enter Parliament we went through airport-style security and our first introduction to Parliament came from Henry Wasung, an EU official, who gave us a lecture and then a question and answer session on how Parliament works. This was a very informative session and led on to us meeting Clare Moody MEP, who was so enthusiastic about her role and gave us an insight into the work she has been doing in Brussels and her career in Politics.
Language students also heard from EU staff about opportunities for placements and careers in the Interpreting and Translation section. Meanwhile, the rest of the group went to the European House of History. All students then went for a sight-seeing walk in Brussels, seeing the Grand Place and the variety of architecture in the town from the high-tech buildings in the centre to beautiful examples of Art Nouveau in the Ixelles quarter of the town. We were struck by different language borders in the towns as we criss-crossed – from Flemish/Dutch/ French speakers in Ypres and Bruges and back to French speakers of Brussels.
The final day was spent in the picturesque town of Bruges, with its canals and vast assortment of shops selling everything from Belgium lace and stationery to the inevitable Belgium beer and chocolate. By then an even heavier covering of snow had settled over the whole town making the experience very special for all on the trip!
Irena Hubble-Brezowski – Course Leader MFL