EU Study Tour Student Testimonials

 

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2019: Flamur Gruda

 

I was fortunate to take part in the 2019 EU Study Tour and it was an absolutely amazing experience. The format of the program was very easy to follow, and the directors were able to integrate us into the learning process. We started the tour in Brussels, where we visited the EU institutions such as the European Parliament, European Commission, and the Council of the European Union. This was a privilege that not many people get, and we learned a great deal from it. After this, we had a weeklong travel period where we visited the Court of Justice and NATO HQ. The time spent on this tour allowed me to build new friendships and learn about the EU in a whole different perspective. After the tour was complete, I was placed in an internship position with a thinktank and it was a great learning experience. I was able to curate newsletters, build new networking through conferences and seminars, and also publish articles about European integration. These experiences have greatly helped in my career aspirations of working for the EU. I would have not been able to secure these friendships and contacts if I did not participate in the Study Tour.

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2018 & 2019: Alina Sobolik

 

When I participated in the EU study tour in the summer of 2018, I had fairly limited knowledge of the EU after having taken just one class (POLI 211) on the institutional structure. My focus before the study tour had always been in international relations, with the goal of a future career at the UN. Through the study tour, I gained a complex and in-depth understanding of the institutional structure and challenges of the EU. I completed a research internship at the European Trade Union Institute, where I experienced what it was like to live and work in Brussels. The level of integration that has been achieved by the EU is inspiring, and as someone interested in global politics I was fascinated by the way that a continent with such a history of conflict has been able to achieve such incredible feats of diplomacy as the Schengen Area and the Euro, among countless others. Needless to say, I was hooked. When I returned from the tour I took nearly every EU politics course offered at UVic, all of which were incredibly interesting. Through my research internship in Brussels I had produced a paper on the far right populist parties in Europe, which I was able to take to the Claremont-UC Undergraduate Conference on the EU in California and get published.

After gaining more knowledge and furthering my interest in the EU, I decided to do the EUSTIP again in the summer of 2019. Yes, it was strange to do the tour twice and I was asked probably about a million times why I was doing the tour again. My answer, however, was always the same. It was the most incredible and inspiring experience in my academic career so far. For students who are interested in the European Union, there is no better place to be than Brussels. You will absolutely never get the opportunity to speak with so many high-level officials in such a way that you can ask highly specific and in-depth questions. As well, you will engage with other brilliant students and enjoy lively debate.

The study tour is a highly intensive three-week experience that will leave you with a notebook full of possible thesis topics, a dynamic understanding of the political challenges facing the EU, and a wealth of life-long connections. I would recommend it to anybody who is considering an international career. Beyond the academic, living and working in Brussels teaches you about yourself and whether or not a career abroad is the right choice for you.

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2018: Daphne Lewarne

 

I have spent the last year working in Lima, Peru for Youth Challenge International as a Gender Advisor. We work for a local NGO to build their capacity in Gender Mainstreaming practices. My favorite thing about this job is that all our initiatives are led by participants or by the NGO, which after 40 years of experience, is extremely knowledgeable regarding the needs of the community. In this job I facilitate activities in Women's Only Spaces, and develop female governance structures and gender equality in technical institutes. The job is certainly challenging at times, but it is rewarding. If students are looking to get involved in this type of work, the Canadian Government's youth opportunities page is a great resource, and to find out more about the project I am currently involved with, check out EQWIP HUBS.

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2018: Sarah Cool-Fergus

 

I am a recent graduate from Bishop's University (Quebec) and I was an EU Study Tour student last summer. From chatting with the other participants between lectures to helping set up events for Bruegel, the think tank I interned at, I really enjoyed my Study Tour experience. It was an all-round incredible and eye-opening summer for me. So much so, that when it came to an end, I knew that I had to find my way back to Europe somehow. 

That's when I found out about the Erasmus Mundus master's degrees/scholarships. They are a set of master's degrees funded by the EU which encourage students from non-EU countries to study in a consortium of European universities. In practical terms, it means that students spend a semester in up to four universities in four different countries over the course of their master's program. 

Long story short, I got accepted into an Erasmus Mundus master's program called European Politics and Society. It is a two-year degree which will take me to Charles University in the Czech Republic and Leiden University in the Netherlands as well as another country (TBD) for my internship. I was fortunate enough to also receive the Erasmus Mundus Joint Masters Degree Partner Country Scholarship which covers my full tuition, travel, living, and installation costs (€46000). Being able to study the EU in Europe and having costs fully covered still gives me the equivalent of what I imagine receiving the acceptance letter from Hogwarts must be like. It's just as unbelievable. 

I fully credit the Study Tour and my subsequent internship at Bruegel for giving me an up-close understanding and interest in the EU, a considerable amount of international experience, and a foot in the door professionally. I'm certain these factors provided a significant boost in my master's application. On top of this, the Study Tour helped me understand the importance of pursuing a master's which would incorporate both research and professional development component. 

Perhaps most of all, I'm grateful for the people I met last summer. Since a lot of us live or work in Ottawa this summer, we've been meeting up nearly weekly and shows that the connections we made in Europe last long past the Study Tour!

2017: Anna Dodd, reflection

 

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2017: Anna Thompson

 

I studied at the University of Victoria between 2013-2017. As an anthropology student, with interests in health and migration I studied how the legal language used by the United States government in court cases allows for and justifies the detention of children at the US-Mexico border. Choosing this topic for my honors thesis left me with a desire to learn more about political systems inform and regulate immigration policy and from there how the health of migrants is impacted. Participating in the EU Study Tour allowed me the opportunity to learn about how another set of borders, those in Europe, were and are being developed and managed along with how migrants, documented or not, can access healthcare in a European country.  

My internship was at the International Planned Parenthood Federation European Network (IPPFEN) headquarters in Brussels. Here I worked on a range of projects that included mapping sexual and reproductive health (SRH) needs and services for refugees and migrants, including gaps in provision and available funding opportunities. The report based on this information was used informed the development of a three-year regional program to specifically address the gaps identified at the policy and service level. I also collected and analyzed data using context analysis for the construction of an internal database on sexual and reproductive health (SRH) in Europe and helped to collect data from national level member associations to be used in other projects.

Following my internship, I was hired by IPPFEN for a short-term long-distance student contract to draft and finalize the MISP (Minimum Initial Service Package for Reproductive Health in crisis) Readiness Assessment Report 2017 (18 countries in Eastern Europe and Central Asia). The findings of this assessment were presented at the 17th Annual IWAG Meeting in Athens, Greece on 8-10 November 2017.

After a gap year where I worked at a medical center in rural Alaska, I started a M.Phil in International Community Health at the University of Oslo, in Norway. I am now studying the impact of perinatal regionalization on women in rural northern communities. While my path to my master’s degree has not be a straight forward one, participating in the EU Study Tour gave me the opportunity to see first-hand the impact and overlap of medicine and politics. Access to medicine and medical attention is driven and often decided by politics, the two are interwoven for better or worse.

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2016: Kadi Diallo (Left)

 

The EU study tour was an unforgettable experience. It was informative and an excellent addition to my academic career and European Union studies at UVic with the European Studies department. What our professors/textbooks taught us about the functioning of the EU, the relations between different agencies etc., were crystallized during the study tour! I am forever grateful to have been  blessed with this opportunity, as well as the Jean Monet scholarship and funding from the European Studies department. I strongly recommend that UVic students continue to participate in the EU study tour as it was an amazing experience.  

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2016: Mckenzie Carr

 

My name is Mackenzie Carr; I graduated from the University of Victoria with a double major in History and Anthropology. In 2016, my final year of my four year degree I was given the opportunity and privilege to partake in the EU Study Tour program, and it was the best decision I made.

During my time abroad I worked in Antwerp, Belgium for a NGO within the European Union that fought human trafficking. I attended conferences and meetings to represent my organization, Payoke, wrote and edited reports for the company, and interviewed victims of human trafficking. I was even able to publish a report for the EU Parliament about my time as a Canadian student working for the EU. It was an unbelievable three months, where I was able to learn and grow personally, and as an academic and professional. I made great connections, and a lot of friends from across Canada. The EU Study Tour has benefited me greatly, I gained substantial references, a publication and it aided in my early acceptance into my Masters Program I am currently finishing in London, England.

To any future students interested in this program, I would highly recommend this program to enhance your academic and personal experiences; it is something you won’t want to miss out on. 

2015: Megan Casey 

 

I studied at UVic between 2011 and 2015. I completed concurrent BA degrees: the first BA is in Applied Linguistics and Professional Writing, and the second BA is in Hispanic and Italian Studies.

I participated in the EU Study Tour and Internship Program in 2015. After the 3-week program with the group, I did my placement at the EU Fundamental Rights Agency in Vienna, working as an Equality and Citizens' Rights Intern. Following my internship, I moved to Brussels and pursued an LL.M. in Human Rights and International Migration. During that time, I had a number of other great experiences working with international organizations and EU insitutions. Some of these include: European Migration Research Intern at the Institute for European Studies in Brussels; Project Development and Implementation Intern at the International Organization for Migration in Budapest; and Trainee in the Office of Ms. Renate Weber at the European Parliament in Brussels. I also volunteered with an organization for a few weeks in the irregular migrant camp in Calais, France, and attended a handful of academic conferences and summer schools (in the Czech Republic, Jordan, Italy, San Francisco, France, and Ireland). I was selected as a Rotary Global Grants Scholar for the 2016/2017 academic year and continue to present on my studies and experiences at Rotary club and district meetings in Canada.

Upon completing my two-year master's degree, I moved to Ottawa and started working for Aga Khan Foundation Canada as the Marketing and Fundraising Officer. I work on our signature fundraising campaigns, which involves supporting upwards of 40 Marketing and Communications volunteers across the country and creating content that engages Canadians as volunteers, fundraisers, and donors. 

Interested in migration issues, I read Jasmine's blog post. I appreciated her connection at the end of the article to Canada. What I struggled most with returning to Canada after 2 years abroad was making the connection between when I had seen and experienced in Europe and what I knew about European policy to the Canadian context. This got easier over time, especially once I started to make connections in Ottawa and attend conferences on Canadian policy-making. My current role allows me to connect Canadians to international development challenges that they care about overseas, which has been very fulfilling.

The first image is from the 2015 tour at the European Commission, and the second image is from the Delegation of the Ismaili Imamat in 2019.