Jim - Today we went to the College of Europe in Brugge (Bruges). It is a grad school that focuses on the European Union and European integration. The program lasts 10 months which is faster than any grad school in America. We got a presentation from one of the professors at the University, Michele Chang. She is a friend of Dr. Hollander’s, so we were lucky to receive a presentation from her. She offered more in depth analysis of the Economic Monetary Union happening in Europe currently. One area of note is that the EMU had a saying, “If everyone obeys the rules there will be no problems”. This turned out to be false because Spain and Italy followed the rules of the Maastricht Treaty and still ended up in bad shape.
After the presentation we were allowed to visit the city of Bruges. When we arrived off the train I felt I had left a time machine because of its architecture. The city is so beautiful with old churches and cobble stone streets. To say it is scenic would be an understatement. I feel Bruges is the perfect blend of modern times with renaissance buildings. The only time I had ever heard of Bruges was from the movie In Bruges starring Colin Ferrell. The best part of the city was an outdoor market. The carts sold meats and cheeses, some I have never heard of until today. Bruges is not as big as Frankfurt is, but it has a lot of twists and turns. Another European factor I discovered today was the idea of space. Many of the buildings were cramped together. In the US it seems the buildings are more spread apart. I wish I could spend more time in Bruges for its wonderful shops and exciting atmosphere.
I am excited to walk around Brussels tonight for two items: Fries and Waffles. The fries are served in cone shaped paper and what seems to be 30 different sauces and toppings. Last night I did not have the chance to get either of these items, so I have lost time to make up.
I would like to thank the Rogge Fund for allowing me to take a trip like this. The only times I have been out of the country I visited Matamoros, Mexico and Toronto, Canada. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity that I was lucky to be a part of because I get to discover new lands, people and language. I finally started to understand German, and now I am in French speaking Belgium. Tonight I am going to find my surroundings here in Brussels and rest up. Tomorrow we are going to the European Commission which should be awesome.