And if you want to learn more about our Brussels programs, click here.
Beautiful and historic Brussels
Stephanie Ebbs has been spending this summer in Brussels, and lucky for all of us, she has decided to write about her time there. And not just once in a random while, but quite often. And there's fascinating stuff there to read. If you click on the link, not only will you see what the place looks like, but you'll also get an idea of what your experience might be like. So do it. Just click on this link. Seriously.
And if you want to learn more about our Brussels programs, click here.
Take a look at Elise's story about working in Brussels! And come to the info session today at 4pm in Tucker Forum. Gareth Harding, the Brussels program director, will be there to answer all your questions!
When making the decision about where to study abroad while at Mizzou, I knew I wanted to travel somewhere “not obvious”, a city where I could get a different kind of study abroad experience than what other students may have. After doing research on some of the study abroad programs offered through the J-School, I narrowed my choices down to the exchange program in Melbourne, Australia or the internship program in Brussels, Belgium. Before researching the program, I had known very little about Brussels, besides the fact that it is known for its excellent chocolate products. I also thought it would be better for resume purposes to complete an internship abroad rather than just study and take classes.
European Parliament, Brussels
So when I started to talk to students who had travelled there previously and heard all the wonderful things they had to say about it, I knew it was worth doing more research. Everyone I spoke to about the program said they absolutely loved every second of it, and they said the opportunities available to broadcast journalism majors were pretty impressive. It was not until I heard that previous interns had the opportunity to work with companies like the Associated Press and Reuters that my decision was solidified: I was going to apply to study abroad in Brussels, Belgium for the 2012 spring semester.
Now, one year later, here I am in Brussels, completing an internship with Thomson Reuters, one of the world’s largest press services in the capital of Europe. Having been on this program for about six weeks now, I can safely say that there is nothing I regret about coming to Belgium. Everything about the city makes me excited to be here and I almost feel a sense of pride and joy calling Brussels my “home away from home.”
European Commission Building, Brussels
According to the locals, Brussels is full of “hidden gems”: you just have to be here to experience its true beauty. It also goes without saying that the culture of Brussels is what makes this city such a pleasure to spend time in. There is always something new to see and explore when in Belgium and the atmosphere is much more relaxed compared to the United States. While some people may complain that service at restaurants in Europe is lousier because of its slow pace, everyone is much more relaxed when they eat because they are not in a rush to be somewhere else; meals are an experience and Europeans take their time to enjoy what is in front of them.
Being in the capital of Europe has also afforded me an amazing amount of hands-on job experience. On my third day working for Reuters, I had the sole responsibility of conducting an exclusive interview with the Turkish Foreign Affairs Minister. How many other college students can say that about their study abroad experience? I have also had the privilege of attending and helping to cover EU summits and other meetings that make headlines worldwide. I was never very interested in political and business reporting before coming to Brussels, but going through this internship has definitely broadened my horizons and changed my mind a bit more on wanting to report on business and government issues. Through working with Reuters, I have also had the opportunity to see how a major news wire service works, which is an experience I do not know if I could have gotten anywhere else but through the Brussels program.
Triumphal Arch, Brussels /by Filip Fuxa
However, living in Brussels also comes with its fair share of rough patches. I came to Brussels knowing what I deemed a good amount of French from high school classes. However, once I got to Belgium, I found myself stumbling to communicate with people. No matter how hard I try to speak French to someone, I always seem to have to resort back to English in one way or another. There are decent amounts of people that do speak English in Brussels, but once you get outside of the city, the ability to communicate seems to wane. Another aspect of life in Belgium that has been increasingly difficult to deal with has been the weather. I had known coming over to Belgium that it was mostly gray and rainy, but having to actually deal with it day after day makes it that much worse. It also probably did not help that Europe has experienced some of the worst cold spells the continent has seen in over 20 years.
But what frustrates me a bit more than the rainy weather and prominent language barrier is having to constantly convert units and measurements into the metric system. I won’t lie, I am not the best when it comes to understanding the metric system measurements, so when asking for directions and someone tells me it is this many “meters” away, I often have no idea what they are really telling me. It is also quite weird to hear people say how nice and warm a “12 degree” day is in Brussels when referring to the weather.
Grand Place, Brussels
One thing I was surprised about was that my passport does not now contain as many stamps from other countries as I thought it would have. Under the Schengen agreement in Europe, people can move about freely in many countries without having to present a passport. So while I thought I would be collecting stamps from the Netherlands and France to take home and show my friends and family, I have nothing to show but my many photos. I was also pleasantly surprised, when visiting Paris, how much a student visa could get you, such as free admission to the Louvre or the towers at Notre Dame cathedral. Whoever said studying abroad in Europe didn’t come with perks?
The time I have spent in Brussels so far has included some of the best experiences of my life, and I am already dreading the day when I have to pack up my things and return home in April. I definitely think the Brussels program is one that has something in it for everyone. I would recommend the Brussels program to anyone looking to see a unique and “hidden gem” of Europe. After all, as the program director once told our class, “Belgium is a pocket-sized country with a punch.”
Summertime in Columbia has always been a time of transition for the Missouri School of Journalism with some students heading back to their hometowns, some sticking around for summer-term classes and some completing internships around the country or around the world.
This summer, MU Journalism Abroad is sending over 80 students to several cities across the globe including London, Buenos Aires, New York and Brussels. These students will be immersed in foreign cultures, take classes at our partner universities and complete internships with a variety of worldwide organizations such as the following:
As the semester nears it's close study abroad students are wrapping up their classes and finishing work at their internships. Though they are happy to return to Columbia many of them will miss their time abroad. Read some of their reflections on their experience below:
Ben Wagner, Brussels Program
"At this point, I feel completely comfortable in going out on a story on my own (with a cameraman), setting up interviews and finishing the story without any help from a senior producer. That day at Parliament was incredibly validating because I literally built the story from the ground up, communicated with the Paris and Berlin offices about sending video and scripts and finished the story in a timely manner. It’s times like these where I really wish this internship when just a bit longer. But in the end, I feel like I’ve gotten everything I could out of this experience at Reuters. I never held back; I pushed as many boundaries as possible and I always came in looking to do even more than I had the day before. Sure, I definitely got knocked down a fair share of times and even made a fool out of myself in front of heads of state. But I think that’s really the only way you can truly learn what you’re capable of, and it’s certainly the only way you’re going to get better. So as a result of the whole process, I will leave Reuters and Brussels with absolutely no regrets or unanswered questions about journalism, and more importantly – about myself. Ultimately, I think that’s the best I could have asked for from my time here."
Emily Morris, London Program
"I’m having a few mixed feelings about the end of the program, which is coming up in the imminent future. On one hand I feel as if I’ve come to the point when I’ve learned just about the most I can from my internship and I am ready to move on. On the other hand, it has been an incredible learning experience and it will feel strange to leave it. I’m hoping everything comes together well for our last issue, as my stories are more complex and involved than they have been before."
Each week Missouri School of Journalism students working at internships in international cities submit a report highlighting their work. For, Scott Kanowsky, a radio & television journalism student interning at Reuters Television in Brussels, this week was more exciting than most. Read his first hand account of protests that broke out prior to a European Union Leadership Conference below.
A Day at Reuters TV in Brussels
By: Scott Kanowsky
Last week was insanity for Reuters TV in Brussels. Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday all saw stories breaking while we tried to assemble together every able bodied man, woman, and child for Summit coverage. Journalists went missing in Libya--reaction from Amnesty international was needed. Three European Parliament representatives were caught on tape by a British paper of taking money to influence legislation. We interviewed the Romanian MEP being investigated. During it all, cameraman filed in from Amsterdam and Brussels to prepare for the Summit. At first, I thought the amount of people we had working on the story was overkill.
I was never so wrong.
Follow this blog to keep up with J-School Study Abroad. For more information visit MU Journalism Study Abroad.