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AU Brussels Center adds unique value to your international study experience by providing the following services during the course or your program:

Learn From the Experts

AU Brussels students sit around a conference table with guest speakers

Do you want to become a global leader or policy maker? Then learn first-hand what it's all about from today's leaders and policy makers.

The European Union in Action Program features guest speakers who are actively involved in making, shaping, and influencing the policy process. In Brussels, the program visits the European Union institutions where officials discuss how these institutions really work from the inside. Likewise at NATO we learn from officials and senior military officers about how the alliance forges consensus among its members to grapple with today's security challenges. On this program, you rub shoulders with Ambassadors, government officials, journalists, and lobbyists as you learn the ropes of the policy process in Brussels. Guest speakers are also what the field trips are ultimately all about, as you meet with representatives of Ministries of Foreign Affairs, the EU, NATO, and other international organizations to see foreign policy in action.

Although the guest speakers who talk to students in the program vary widely from semester to semester, here are some examples of policy makers who have met with previous groups of students to give you a taste of what to expect:

Over the past five years, previous field trip destinations have included:

  • The Honorable Denise Bauer, United States Ambassador to Belgium
  • Ambassador Bruce Berton, Deputy High Representative of Bosnia-Herzegovina
  • Mr. Wayne Bush, Assistant Secretary General of NATO for Executive Management
  • Ms. Vlora Citaku, Kosovar Minister for European Integration
  • Her Excellency Emine Çolak, Turkish Cypriot Minister of Foreign Affairs
  • Mr. Phillipe De Backer, Member of the European Parliament
  • Mr. Marko Djuric, Director of the Office for Kosovo and Metohija, Republic of Serbia
  • Ambassador Sorin Ducaru, Assistant Secretary General of NATO for Emerging Challenges
  • Mr. James Elles, Member of the European Parliament
  • Mr. Malik Ellahi, Head of Political Affairs, OPCW
  • Ms. Christina Gallach, Head of Public Relations, Council of the EU
  • General David R. Hogg, US Military Representative to NATO
  • Ambasssador Marina Jovicevic, Serbian Assistant Minister for European Integration
  • President Koen Lenaerts, European Court of Justice
  • Ambassador Milivoje Jurišić, Secretary of Montenegro's Negotiating Group to the EU
  • Mr. Jeremy Moakes, Communications Officer, Council of Europe
  • Mr. Jens Nymand-Christenson, Deputy Director General, European Commission
  • Dr. Mihaela Osorio, Political Advisor to EUSR, Bosnia and Herzegovina
  • Her Excellency Natalie Sabanadze, Ambassador of Georgia to the EU
  • Mr. John Sammis, Deputy Chief of Mission, US Mission to the European Union
  • Ms. Magdelena Spalinska, Press Spokesperson, ICTY
  • Mr. Arian Spasse, Director of the EU Directorate, Albanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs
  • Mr. Peter Stastny, Member of the European Parliament
  • Mr. Louis Telemachou, Deputy Director of EU Affairs, Cypriot Ministry of Foreign Affairs
  • Dr. Joannes Thuy, Press Spokesperson, Eurojust
  • Mr. Johannes Viereck, Head of Political and Military Section, OHR Bosnia-Herzegovina

"Being able to visit the European institutions that we are learning about in the classroom is incredible, and I would not change that for the world."
-Student Evaluation

AU students at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs

"I would recommend this program because of the amazing opportunities to hear from incredible people and learn a lot about Europe and policy."
-Student Evaluation

Learn How the Real World Works

Students stand in front of EU country flags

Internships combine academic learning with a professional volunteer experience at a public or private office in Brussels. The internship complements the other European Union in Action program and Brussels Summer European European Internship courses by enabling you to apply lessons learned in class to "real world" situations. By doing so, you gain insights into aspects of European life and culture that are not normally observable in the classroom. The internship also allows you to learn more about a particular career path, to sort out career interests and goals, to develop new skills and to sharpen existing work skills.

A student has a lunch meeting with supervisors at internship

During the European Union in Action program, you intern for two-days per week for a minimum of 16 hours a week. During the Belgium Summer European Union Internship you intern four days a week for a minimum of 32 hours a week. The internship opportunities available reflect the nature of Brussels itself. Previous students have interned for Members of the European Parliament, EU lobby firms and consultancies, multinational corporations, law firms, print media organizations, trade development offices, and non-governmental organizations. All internships are on a volunteer, non-compensated basis and form part of your academic coursework in Brussels.

A student meets staff at the Fulbright Commission during her internship

Internships in Brussels are competitive. Before coming on the program, you fill out an internship skills/survey form and send your resume, called a CV in Europe, to the Internship Coordinator in Brussels. Based on this information, the coordinator sends your resumes to the appropriate internship organizations, and the organizations decide which students they will interview. When you arrive in Brussels, a schedule of internship interviews is waiting for you. The actual internship placements depend upon the results of these interviews. Although every student has an internship, the specific internship that you have depends solely upon the results of these interviews.

The outside of an office building in Brussels

Internships at NATO are also possible for students who are in ROTC or have a previously existing security clearance by virtue of working for a department of the US government like the State Department or CIA. However, to be eligible for an internship at NATO, you must have an already existing security clearance. American University is unable to obtain a security clearance for students or help you obtain a security clearance.

"I really enjoyed my internship and made many great connections with the organization with which I interned with."
-Student Evaluation

"I want to know where I'm going to intern before I get to Brussels so I can research the organization I will be working with."
Due to the competitiveness of the internship process in Brussels, AU Abroad cannot tell you who you will be interning for prior to arriving in Brussels. Instead, upon arrival, you will be provided with your interview schedule for multiple potential internship opportunities. You will not know which internship you will be offered until after you have interviewed. The organizations select the best candidate from the students they interviewed. Therefore, whether or not you secure a particular internship depends upon how you perform in the interviews, and your internship placement will not be known until after this interview process is completed.

"How do I write a resume?"
We recommend that you visit your university's career center for guidance about creating a resume. However, here are some tips:

  • Remember that you have only 60 seconds (the average time taken to read a resume) to get your qualifications across on paper. Since this is the only information that the internship organizations will receive about you, spend some time developing it!
  • Use A4 paper size, which is the European norm. (Go to File, Page Set-Up, Paper Size, and then select A4. Do not use letter size paper.)
  • Proofread your resume. You will loose the interview if you haven't been concerned enough to check for misspelled words.
  • For an internship in Brussels, your educational experience and what you know is more important than your previous employment experience in America.
Therefore, make sure that your resume includes the following information:
  • Your name, address, phone number and E-mail address.
  • The name of your university, location of university, degree (B.A., B.S, etc.), major, GPA, and anticipated graduation date.
  • Your educational qualifications. Link your educational experience to the first four internship preferences you listed on the internship questionnaire. That is, if you are interested in EU affairs, list any courses, honors or awards you received that are relevant to EU affairs.
  • Your previous internship experiences. Include the names of the organizations, locations, dates, and describe what you did. Again, link any relevant experience to the first four internship preferences that you listed on your questionnaire.
  • Your skills. Be sure to include any computer and language skills that you possess, as well as any other that are relevant to your internship interests.

A desk and computer where a student works at their internship. "How should I dress for my internship?"
The environment of each internship organization is unique. However, in almost all professional organizations like EU consultancies, corporations, law firms, think tanks, etc. business casual is unknown. So, men should wear a coat and tie and women should wear professional business attire. However, be prepared for the fact that there are exceptions to this rule, particularly in the NGO sector. Since you will not know where you will intern until after the interviews, be prepared for anything. Moreover, even if you do not need professional attire for your internship, you will be required to dress up for some of our classes, institution visits, and guest speakers. Therefore, bring professional business attire.

Get to Know Europeans

A student with her host family.

Both the European Union in Action Program and the Brussels Summer Internship Program offer you the opportunity to learn more about Europe by living with a host family. Of course, each family is different, and it is impossible to generalize what your family will be like. However, the following is true of all families:

You will have your own room in a family's home, although sometimes another student may be staying in a different room in the same home. On the mornings that you are at home, you will receive a continental breakfast from the family. On three evenings each week, you will share the dinner with the family. All lunches and all other evening meals are at your own expense. However, the program does partially subsidize the cost of your other meals with a small monthly meal stipend. Bed linens and towels are always provided, and you will have access to the family's laundry facilities. All families have wireless internet access, and are accessible by public transportation.

A students room in a homestay with a bookcase and small table.The homestay gives you the freedom to choose as much or as little interaction with the family as you would like. Although you are required to follow some rules of common courtesy, you will never be required to adhere to a curfew, and no family will impose any obligations on you to stay at home or participate in family activities. In short, you are free to come and go as you please.

However, we hope that you will take the time to get to know your family. By living with them, you will gain a special insight into how ordinary Europeans live and what they think about the issues studied in the program. They will also provide you with an excellent opportunity to improve your French language skills, should you wish to do so. However, there are also many families who speak English, so French language skills are certainly not required for living with a host family.

A student's homestay room with decorations "I don't want to be mothered. I know friends who've been in homestays in other places and they had curfews and were expected to go to family functions. I don't want any part of that!"
We know that you are apprehensive about staying in a new family's home, especially a foreign family where the cultural norms are different. Rest assured that the homestay families are also apprehensive about bringing a stranger into their home. The families will treat you like an adult, and you are free to make your own decisions about where you go, what you do, and when you do it. No family will impose a curfew on you or require you to attend family functions. A family might offer you the chance to go on excursions or join in family functions, but you decide whether or not you wish to do so. Many past students have stated they have felt lucky to be offered the chance to share in a "normal Belgian life." However being treated as an adult brings with it the requirement to behave as an adult. There are certain rules of behavior that you will be expected to follow when you are in the family's home. These rules do not restrict your freedom in any way, but they do require you to act with courtesy and respect for the lives of the people with whom you will be living.

"I want to know who I'm living with before I get there so I can send things ahead/find the home on a map/contact my homestay family."
Although the Housing Coordinator might contact you with information about your family before you arrive in Belgium, it is unlikely that she will do so. That is because last minute changes in the homestay assignments are always possible due to unforeseen circumstances. You will spend the first night in Brussels in a hotel with all of the other students on your program, and you will learn who your family is and meet them the next day.

"I am vegetarian/vegan/allergic/lactose intolerant/have dietary restrictions and I don't want to be forced to eat something I'm not comfortable with, have to eat salad all the time, or want to make the homstay family feel weird."
Most homestay families have offered their homes for several semesters - if not several years - before you arrive. These families have dealt with all kinds of different dietary needs and the students who have them. The Housing Coordinator takes this into account when matching you to a homestay. However, the Housing Coordinator cannot accommodate a dietary restriction if she does not know about it. Please explicitly state any dietary restrictions that you have on the housing questionnaire that you will complete after you are accepted to the program. Please also be prepared to answer questions from the homestay family so that they can make sure you are as comfortable as possible.

"I'm a Hindu/Atheist/Protestant etc. and don't want to make me or anyone else uncomfortable."
Just as each student is different, each family is different. Your homestay assignment is made based on what you disclose in the homestay questionnaire and the Housing Coordinator's knowledge of each family. Therefore, when you complete your homestay questionnaire, please disclose as much information as possible about yourself so that the Housing Coordinator can make the right family selection for you.

"I want to live with another student on the program."
Provided that there are homestay families available who have space for more than one student, this is a possibility. Both you and the other student must state your desire to be in the same home when you complete the homestay questionnaire. The Housing Coordinator will do her best to try to accommodate your desire. However, we cannot promise in advance that this will be possible.

"I want my own room."
Each student on the program has his or her own room. Although another student might live in the same house, no one else will be in the same room.

"I would rather just not pay for a homestay and find my own place instead."
This is not an option. Homestays are a key way to get to know Belgian life and culture from an insider perspective, and every student is required to stay in a program specified homestay.

Students tour a memorial to the genocide at Srebrenica

Travel is an integral part of the European Union in Action Program. As a group, the program travels to places like Luxembourg, The Hague, Geneva or Strasbourg to visit non-Brussels-based EU and UN institutions. During these visits, we learn from experts on the ground about how the EU operates and how it interacts with other international organizations. We also spend time having fun on the weekends in interesting places like Trier, Maastricht, Reims, Han-sur-Lesse, Leiden, or Kandersteg.

Students in front of Ataturk's tomb in Ankara

The AU Brussels Center cultural activities help you learn more about Europe and get better acquainted with Europeans. We tour Brussels to show you the wealth of architectural and historical treasures that the city has to offer. We visit and tour historic Belgian cities like Antwerp, Bastogne, Bruges, Ghent, Ieper, or Leuven. We've also visited the brewery museum to show the contribution of Belgium to other aspects of European culture.

Depending on the interest of the students, we can arrange for a program night at the opera or a classical concert. We can arrange visits to Belgium's wealth of art museums. After all, Belgium was at the heart of the Northern Renaissance, and painters like Hans Memling, Hubert and Jan Van Eyck, Peter-Paul Rubens, Hieronymus Bosch, Peter Breughel, and many others lived and worked here. In the twentieth century, Belgian painters were among the leaders of the surrealist movement, with stars such as René Magritte and Paul Delvaux.

Belgium's violent history has also bequeathed it with many historical monuments, and the program has visited sites like the battlefield of Waterloo, the Battle of the Bulge, and the former Nazi concentration camp at Fort Breendonk.

Students on a field trip Northern Cyprus

But that's just the beginning. The highlight of the semester is our twelve-day trip to countries in Central and Eastern Europe. The destination of this trip varies from semester to semester, depending on events that are important for understanding the EU. For example, we visited Turkey during the semester that the EU decided to open membership negotiations with the country. We visited Bosnia-Herzegovina during the semester that the EU took over the peacekeeping operation there. We have frequently visited Cyprus (pictured above), since the ongoing division of the island poses special problems for the EU and its relationship with Turkey. During these trips, we learn from local officials about their perspective on the developments in their countries. We take tours to learn about the history and culture of the places we visit. No two field trips are the same. Each group of European Union Program students has its own unique field trip experience, tailored to its semester.

"Being able to go to places that most Americans and Europeans never visit gives perspective on what it means to talk about a broader Europe."
-Student Evaluation

Over the past five years, previous field trip destinations have included:

  • Austria
  • Bosnia-Herzegovina
  • Croatia
  • Cyprus
  • France
  • Germany
  • Hungary
  • Italy
  • Kosovo
  • Luxembourg
  • Macedonia
  • Montenegro
  • Netherlands
  • San Marino
  • Serbia
  • Slovenia
  • Switzerland
  • Turkey
Students visit Haut Koeningsburg in France