23 July 2014

Adventures in Paris: Student Reflections on the International Placement Program

Week 3
My supervisor presented some of the work that I have been involved in with all member countries present. Therefore, I got to come along and listen to the discussion and questions all the member countries had with my supervisor regarding the 2015 budget allocation. This time I was very prepared and I kept track of the entire discussion without feeling lost (which I did at my first budget committee meeting on my first day). It was such a great feeling to be able to keep track of the discussion and know what everyone was talking about, in detail. After the committee, my supervisors and I went for lunch at a restaurant nearby. We had a pleasant conversation which involved my future career prospects. I could really see myself working for the OECD, and my supervisor suggested that I should apply for the Young Professionals Programme after my graduation. It is certainly something I will consider.

 View of the Budget Committee Room - I was seated behind the Executive Director, Anthony Rottier.

Friday morning we went for a field trip to visit the European Commission and the European Parliament. We took the train early in the morning in order to be in Brussels at 9 am. The train ride did not take more than 90 minutes(ish)!

Representatives from the European External Action Service (EEAS) came to greet us and held presentations about the EU and what they do, before they opened up for an informal discussion regarding the internal work at the EU. First, we met the Head of Sector Correspondence, Corporate Board Secretariat, before Mr Tamas Macazac came and spoke about Australian Trade Relations. It was very interesting to get an understanding of how the EU works from a senior employee’s perspective, and how Australia interacts with European Affairs.

The second part of our field trip was engaging in a role play at the Parlamentarium. It was a location with a set and equipment where we had to go through the same procedures as the official elected parliament representatives when they discuss official matters, negotiate with other parties and come to a consensus. It was harder than I anticipated but great fun!

At the end of the day the group went for dinner locally in Brussels before the travelling to Paris, Amsterdam, London, Rome or Berlin - we had a long weekend which we wanted to take advantage of! First, it was time to taste Belgium waffles, beer and frites!

After returning safely to Paris we celebrated Bastille Day on the 14th which is equivalent to Australia Day. We enjoyed a beautiful picnic during the day and when the fireworks were to begin, we had a stunning view to the Eiffel Tower while we enjoyed Champagne, macaroons and other French nibbles.  The fireworks were fantastic and it represented four significant highlights in the last century: the First and Second World War, the fallen soldiers and peace.

Anette Hansen
Current student at the University of Sydney Business School and participant in the International Placement Program in Paris, France 

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