In Brussels, covering the European Union

Sorry I haven’t been updating here much, but I wanted to be able to have time to upload pictures online before writing a decent entry. I am sorry I haven’t noted you and I promise to tomorrow morning.

I just had one of the most amazing, exhausting, at-times-pissed off (like when I was pickpocketed), weeks of my life. I spent 8 days in Belgium (7 days in Brussels, 1 day in Brugge). I spent most of the week reporting on the European Union, which is like the Washington D.C. of Europe. I mean, how often can I say that?

I found out that the European Union sprang for at least half of my class’s hotel and restaurant bill. And okay, there was a red flag going up in my head, saying “Uh oh, something unethical is going on here.” But you know, Europe is not like the United States. The overall government actually loves journalists. We even had access to this huge room that had free Internet access and telephones. And the nice thing about the EU is that it’s easy to get sources to talk to. Politicians are generally willing to talk to you, and if they’re not, well they’ll send their assistants, who are just as competent. And you can ask them tough questions and they’ll answer it.

This is one of the major buildings, forgot which one it was, but it looks nice, eh?

This is the European Commission building, or the European Parliament building. I get them all mixed up:



This is a typical journalist press conference. See those people in the glass boxes near the ceiling? There are 23 boxes, representing the 23 languages of the European countries in the EU. Each box contains three translators, and between the three of them, they are expected to know the 23 different languages. They also have to translate really quickly, almost as the same time as the speaker onstage, so I don’t know how they do it, because it’s all unscripted. From there, the journalists put on the headphones attached to their seats and select the language they want to hear the press conference in. Hands down, the most impressive thing in the EU:

Mr. Big Man on Campus: Jose Barroso (middle), the president of the European Commission, the most popular and powerful person in the EU:

Jerram and his stinkface:


 

My press badge. This is the badge that gets me through many guarded doors and gives me access to awesome stuff:

The badges gives me access to stuff like these:


 

Journalists get free phone calls and Internet access:

Only special, important people like us can access this building. I’m serious, they checked out badges:

My lovely classmates:

Here are some official-looking stuff:

Where politicians from 27 different European countries meet 3 weeks a month, five days a week

Lisanne demonstrating the hard work of these politicians:

 

The endless mailboxes of these representatives:


 

We saw history in the making. This was the launch of EuroParlTV, which some of my fellow journalists dubbed EuroPropagandaTV, but I am more optimistic about it. It’s basically a way for young college students to get more interactive with the European Union.

Again with the language interpreters:

And last but not least, the free lunch buffet they gave us as student journalists. Somehow I felt the need to write only positive things about them afterwards.


 
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