International Relations and Politics in the EU Blog Post Friday 9th January The IR life Living the International Relations lifestyle back in Australia is difficult, there are not many institutions regarding the European Union (geographically I understand, however take our performance in Eurovision last year as a sign for us wanting to be able to be more a part of things) Brussels on the other hand, was richly prepared for our IR brains. Our trip to Brussels began in the early hour of the morning because it would appear that is the way the Dutch live their lives (power to them, they seize the day). Our first stop was the European Commission where we were met by an enthusiastic British lecturer who had all kinds of wonderful things to share, his passion for the commission was infectious and has sparked such a drive in me to hopefully work there (since I am not an EU national I am not sure how but who knows, maybe I'll become the coffee girl if nothing becomes available). We then got to go the European Parliament felt very official and we were met by another man who spoke to us about the Parliament and then proceeded to tour us around the facility. The day ended at Delirium Café which claims to have over 2000 types of beers however almost every beer café I walked passed in Brussels had the same claim. People seemed to enjoy themselves here although since we had not had time for dinner there was a general consensus that going straight to the bar was an odd initiative. Jan9pic1.1  Jan9pic2.2 Saturday 10th January Good Morning Belgium! Today's agenda was a leisurely one, we only had one set task which was a guided walking tour of Brussels and since I have never been to this town before I was looking forward to it. We saw what Brussels has to offer including its 'peeing boy statute' which was dressed up in little clothes because that is what the town likes to do. After the walking tour conclude and the €1 waffles were tended to, a few of us went to the Belgian Comic Strip which was where there was a museum for comics, it largely features the Smurfs and Tintin which provided some excellent souvenirs for my family. After that I went to bed, which may sound dull but the hotel we were staying at was 4 stars and the rooms were incredibly inviting. Jan10pic1.1  Jan10pic2.2 Sunday 11th January Belgian Chocolate Go and take €6.50 to Godiva and get yourselves a strawberry cone, these deliciously plump strawberries dipped in the finest Belgian chocolate will be well worth it, trust me. After that little sales pitch (Godiva if you're looking to thank me you could send me some samples!) I will continue with how the events of today unfolded. First of all, a chocolate tasting at Planete Chocolate. You're probably thinking when do we study if we keep getting spoiled by walking tours and trips to the European Commission alas, I do not mention class as often as I perhaps should. None the less, I will not skimp on details for this tasting! Free hot chocolate, little pralines to die for. Heaven. The tasting ended with a bus ride over to Leuven where the wind and rain were strong, after a very lengthy walking tour around the town we finally headed back to Maastricht. Once we all got back to Maastricht it was time to mull over topics to write our final papers on and go to sleep. Jan11pic1.1 Monday 12th January The blessed day of rest The first day off has finally arrived, some of my colleagues decided to travel and make the most of the day. I envy their motivation as I lazily rolled out of bed around 11am and decided to wander around Maastricht to see what the town has to offer without the pressure of being late to class, after having lunch at a local café that spoke not one word of English (a LOT of menu pointing and smiling occurred *cue Ursula from the little mermaid talking about the importance of body language*) I headed back to my room to prepare for the mid term on Wednesday. A daunting fact within itself, despite having only had 3 classes I felt like I had needed to focus in on what I had learnt and go over the slides and textbook chapters again. Studying came to a close and a few of us skipped over to Lumiere cinema where we watched the Dutch film 'Black Books' which it turns out I had already seen on a late night SBS movie but it is still a very powerful film. Tuesday 13th January Today was the first chance we got to discuss our paper topics with Matt (our lecturer) as well as the last chance to ask any questions before the mid term. Class went pretty well and from what I noticed I don't think anyone had a problem passing their topic with Matt. Not much to say about the rest of the day unfortunately, so this entry has made for itself rather brief! Wednesday 14th January  The Mid-Term Earlier than usual we arrive in the lecture hall ready to complete our midterm which consisted of 10 questions, after a night of preparing I still don't feel like I was totally ready for what was about to unfold however once it was over it did not seem as scary as I had originally thought and gave an insight into how the final exam is going to be. That night we all met up at Petit Bonheur which is a restaurant in Maastricht, we were given beef stew, chips and salad. It was nice to have such a homely meal and according to some of our teachers the beef stew had a famous Maastricht sauce? Whatever the case, it was divine. Thursday 15th January End of the Week Today class was on the Common Foreign and Security Policy within the EU, a topic that I have been waiting the entire trip to learn about. It did not disappoint, we even began the class with a short video! Once class had finished a few of us went into town to try and retrace our steps to a place we visited on a walking tour at the start, despite not finding it we had an adventurous time battling the wind and rain. Once I got back to my room I repacked my suitcase and organised my bag for tomorrow morning because we are off on our Amsterdam study trip, we have to be ready to get on the bus by 6:30am so I think tonight is going to be an early one. That's all for now, stay tuned for the next and final update of this IR adventure!