By Chris Poray, Student of International Relations and Modern History at the University of East Anglia
Being part of the TEAMGlobal Study Tour was one of the best experiences I have had since coming to university. Everything about the tour was laid out perfectly, from the hospitality of the various prestigious establishments we visited to the charismatic leadership of Antony Frost. I found all aspects of the tour to be incredibly enjoyable, interesting and memorable, I was quite astounded as to how much we managed to fit into each day.
The quality of speakers we had the privilege to listen to and ask questions was something that I had never experienced before, talking to those who were making real change in international politics was a honour. The speakers were often inspiring and it helped me realise that I want to go into similar fields when I graduate. A particular highlight for me was the presentation given by Chelsey Slack (The Deputy Head of Cyber Defence at NATO), she was able to connect with the group and covered topics that were of particular interest to me. Visiting institutions such as the European Parliament and Commission stood out to me, the opportunity to come to these institutions in which so much power is held was a surreal experience, something I will never forget. It was also interesting to go to smaller institutions in comparison such as the House of Gibraltar, this was something that I was not too well read up on beforehand but it was interesting to learn about Gibraltar’s aims in Europe post-Brexit. All the topics covered broadened my views and challenged my opinions throughout the tour, it helped mould my potential dissertation topics that I will write next year. Now I have a wealth of experience when compared to my peers on my course who did not take up this opportunity.
Whilst the days were packed full of interesting activities and speakers we still had sufficient time to relax in the evening in which I got to know fellow students from across the country at different universities. This opportunity to make networks with current university students who are looking to go into similar fields as me is invaluable, to gain these contacts at such an early stage is priceless. The dinner on the first night was integral to getting to know my peers and I thoroughly enjoyed it, a well as getting to know the other TEAMGlobal members who also came on the tour. The networking event was set up with University of East Anglia alumni was also incredibly useful to get an idea of how to get into working in Brussels, or even more general tips on working abroad or in politics. I particularly found the networking evening enjoyable and good practice for engaging with professionals in the future. The evening gathering on the last night was also an enjoyable end to the trip and I can safely say that I have made good friends with many people that I otherwise would not get the opportunity to meet.
I could not recommend the Brussels Study Tour enough. It is the best thing I have done at university and I will now be attending the TEAMGlobal Members’ Day in late June. It is something that I will push all my coursemates to do next year as I feel it accommodates my degree in International Relations perfectly and I would now consider it as integral to my knowledge and development as my degree.
By Lawrence Hardy, Senior Lecturer in Politics, European Studies and International Relations at the University of East Anglia
The Easter 2018 TEAMGlobal visit to Brussels was outstanding as a means to enrich student understanding of public policy and management at the international level and importantly to open horizons, raise awareness awareness of career opportunities and develop confidence and other employability skills.
We are UEA worked with TEAMGlobal and 20 of our students took part in this year’s study tour out of a total of 32 participants. The UEA group included undergraduates and master students, studying subjects ranging from languages to Politics, Philosophy, European Studies, International Relations, International Security and Economics.
What then were the benefits?
Firstly, I know from experience that teaching in the classroom doesn’t show the whole picture. Actually seeing the places we discuss such as the European Union, NATO and other international institutions, and the many non-governmental bodies in Brussels and elsewhere, enriches the student experience at opens horizons. Whilst students know the ‘known knowns’ they will obviously be unaware of the ‘known unknowns’ and the ‘unknown unknowns’! Study visits introduce new experiences and understanding. Hearing at first hand the bureaucratic process for decision making in the Council of the EU for example may either excite interest or equally stimulate a search for a career elsewhere! And its also a great way to understand the difference between each institution. It’s easy to mix up the European Council and the unrelated Council of Europe. We went to both. We heard about their different work, and their traineeship programmes.
Secondly, visits enable students to ask questions, meet officials and discuss public policy issues with those directly involved. They also provide the idea opportunity to talk about careers and work experience. Whilst organisation invariably provide basic information about jobs on their websites there is no substitute for first-hand discussion and seeing the location of the institutions, the working environment and not least the people who work there. This applies to NATO, the EU, NGOs, indeed everywhere. Just asking about the opportunities strengthens the link with the policymaking and delivery of each organisation, and builds student interest, understanding and confidence.
Thirdly, there is a real benefit from the group experience itself. The participants from other universities, from teaching and from substantial experience in diplomacy add value. The interaction which took place within the group was particularly pleasing, as student sand others got to know each other and discussed the issues of the day, and life at the international level.
Fourthly, one evening was sent at the East of England European Partnership Brussels Office meeting UEA alumni and others, all of who shared their experience of work and life in Brussels. This was highly regarded. Meeting people who went to your university and who talked about what they did afterwards was greatly prized.
Looking broadly then at the overall experience, students were left with a sense of the opportunities awaiting their graduation. Many links were made, ideas shared and I think everyone felt that the trip was a special moment.
I cannot finished however without mentioning TEAMGlobal itself and its outstanding commitment to seeking better and safer world through education and first-hand experience. It wasn’t just the high level contacts they secured for our visits, or the efficiency running a very full programme. It was the camaraderie, friendliness and commitment which left an enduring memory. Thank you Laurence, Kevin and the indefatigable Antony.