Diarmuid O’Donnell

St Mel’s College Longford

My trip to Brussels, the European parliament and Ghent was entirely enjoyable and eye opening experience.

The city of Brussels is truly a marvel to gawk at, in my opinion, with countless palaces and monuments. The Grand Platz was a particular highlight. The atmosphere there, the shops, the food and the plentiful array of belgian chocolate, were all very enjoyable to experience. The freedom provided by Martin, Marie etc also truly allowed us to truly enjoy the city unabated and added to my overall enjoyment of the experience.

The tour of the city that was organised was very interesting and humorous. Furthermore, the tour guide was very knowledgeable of the city and he took us to many more wondrous sites such as the Atomium on the site of the 1958 belgium world fair. The exploration of the city was a big highlight of the whole trip for me.

The trips to the European parliament were captivating. The sheer magnitude of the building left me a little awestruck to be honest. Our discussions with the Irish and European MEPs were highly informative as well and gave me the opportunity to experience different peoples perspectives on a variety of topics. Maria Walsh was a gracious host and managed to organise a lot of different guest speakers which kept everything different and intriguing.

Vladimír BILČÍK, who kindly came to us as a guest speaker, was a particular highlight. His impassioned discussion of the Ukraine Crisis was gripping and sad all at the same time as he recounted the thousands of refugees that had fled to his country. His talk put a heavy heart in all of us and I would have loved to have heard more from him.

The European President, Roberta Metsola, was also a very interesting lady and politician to hear from. She told us about her own struggles in trying to get elected in Malta and it was quite inspiring to know, as an Irish person, that despite the size of small countries, they can still produce people capable of reaching the upper echelons of the EU.

Finally our escapade to Ghent was a nice ending to the whole experience. We were given a lovely tour of the city and let out to enjoy ourselves for a few hours.

In all I’d say the trip was great and I seriously hope other students have the opportunity to experience it in the future. The whole experience exposed me to a career in Europe, that I think I’d be more than happy to start..I’d like to give a big thank you to everyone that afforded me this opportunity and organised the trip, I enjoyed every second!