Wabash Blogs Immersion 2009: Politics/Economics of the EU

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European Council...and Count Dracula?

Taylor Larimore ’09 – Wednesday morning was devoted to the European Council. We arrived at the huge Council building around 10 and had plenty of time to admire the artwork adorning the main atrium. A sculptural representation of every individual country kept our group laughing and wondering as to what stereotype or quality was being represented. The Italian boot was full of soccer players and soccer balls; Romania had a castle being watched over by Count Dracula.
Visiting the council was one of the most interesting experiences I’ve had on this trip. We sat around the council’s boardroom table and everyone ‘represented’ a different EU member state. I choose Sweden and sat next to Aaron Abell who chose the Czech Republic, who currently holds the EU Council presidency. Our speaker at the EU Council talked at length about the intricacies and importance of the EU’s foreign policy. While she noted the serious problems the EU had when it came to foreign policy action (because it is based on the consensus of all the member states), she also highlighted recent successes like the current management of problems in the former Yugoslavia. The experience was really helpful in that it provided me with a different perspective on the relationship between EU institutions.
Following the visit to the Council, we had the rest of the day free to explore Brussels. I walked around with some guys while taking pictures and buying gifts for family and friends. A trip to Belgium wouldn’t be complete without a few boxes of chocolates. Before heading back to the hotel I stopped by a small local bar which was stashed away down a hidden alley. The bar was recommended because of its black market supply of WestVletteren Trappist beer, arguably the best beer man has to offer.
After a glass, we ran back to the hotel to catch the train to Frankfurt. After one of the best days of the trip for me, I felt ready to move onto a new city. Overall, the trip has been one of my favorite experiences abroad and has given me a good mixture of classroom and experience-based learning. I am thankful for the opportunity.  
Top Left: Seth Flater '10 and Taylor Larimore talk with Professor Ethan Hollander about the strange artwork that adorned the EU Council building.
Bottom Right: The group guessed this image represented Romania, but we had our doubts...