GT in the EU

An extraordinary education

A Farewell To Brussels

As our time in Brussels comes to a close, I’d like to take this chance to reflect on all of the incredible experiences we’ve had here. This study abroad program has taken the group to many places we would not have been otherwise able to access, and allowed us to speak with representatives from all aspects of European governance (and economics, security, human rights, etc.). I think it’s appropriate that we take a minute to share our favorite experiences here.

Of all the opportunities this program has given me in Belgium, I think my favorite has to be the chance to visit SHAPE and speak with NATO officials. It was somewhat surreal to be on the bus as it pulled up next to the fences around the compound and realize “This is where some of the greatest military minds in the world are working together.” It was not until we got inside that I realized they weren’t just working together to prepare for the possibility of war, but also to prevent conflict from occurring at all. While it is normally thought that the political arm of NATO is responsible for most of the deterrence carried out by the organization, the briefings we had revealed that a fair amount of actions involving military components are intended to prevent aggression by hostile actors and preserve the peace. The extent to which this is effective can be argued, but the fact that SHAPE’s operations are not all focused on war is encouraging for the future of European security.

Inside SHAPE, I would have to say that my favorite area was the office of the SACEUR, General Breedlove (Georgia Tech Class of 77). The history in that room: from the desk used by Eisenhower to activate SHAPE, to the globe around which many SACEURs have had conversations with world leaders, to the medallions from armed forces around the world, this room seemed to be a museum of military history. I was particularly impressed by the wall Gen. Breedlove dedicated to the men and women of the allied armed forces, with pictures of soldiers adorning an entire side of the room. It was truly a pleasure to tour SHAPE and I once again must thank General Breedlove for his support of the Yellow Jackets.

Now to my classmates: what was your favorite part of our time in Brussels?


A Global Effort for Human Rights


Our Final Site Visits in Brussels


  1. Jasper Narvil

    That is such a difficult question to answer when we have all done so many amazing things in Brussels during our month-long stay. I’d have to say that visiting the chocolate museum (there were unlimited samples and a chocolate fountain; what else could you ask for?) or Human Rights Watch site visit (which gave me a new perspective on the power of NGOs and has substantially influenced my potential career paths). Everything we did in the city was amazing though, I think we can all agree that Brussels has officially become a home-away-from-home in our hearts.

  2. Charlotte Kaye

    I am so excited you posed this question, Schuyler, because we’ve been moving so fast that I have barely had the opportunity to reflect on what I enjoyed most about our time in Brussels. I think the Coca-Cola Europe visit was my favorite, because I can see myself pursuing a career in the private sector working in government relations. To be honest, though, my absolute favorite part of that portion of the program was just having the opportunity to fully experience a European city as dynamic as Brussels. I had moments where I was sitting in the Cinquantenaire Park reflecting on how lucky and happy I was in that very moment to be able to genuinely enjoy my time in the city. I grew to love Brussels so much and am so excited to hopefully return after I graduate and maybe live there again for a bit!

  3. Emma Smith

    SHAPE was also my favorite Belgium site visit! I think it’s so amazing to be able to see a concrete reflection of security cooperation, and getting to sit in General Breedlove’s office is something I’ll never forget. However, my favorite aspect of Belgium, and about the trip as a whole was my experience with my host family. Getting to live a a local instead of in a dorm or out of a suitcase really made this program so special.

  4. Cora Olson

    In response to your question, I think its hard to pick my MOST favorite thing in Brussels… however, one of my favorite was definitely our visit to DG Energy. I really felt like I could see myself working at such a place. The briefing they gave us was very informative and I really feel drawn to that area of work. I think their work is very important for our future and I’d love to help shape it!

  5. Carrie Arnson

    This a great Post Schuyler! Its a great way to share your thoughts, but also to involve your classmates! I’m going to shake it up a little bit. Although I thoroughly enjoyed all the site visits in Brussels in going to talk about the city a little bit. One of my favorite parts of Brussles was when I returned to the city after Paris. Paris was great, but it was hot, crowded, and I was always worried about getting pick pocketed. However, that evening we when returned to Brussels it truly felt like I was returning home. Coming up from the metro, by Cinquantenaire was a wonderful feeling. I had mastered the public transportation system, and picked up enough French this summer to throw around a phrase or two to fit in. I loved how we could spend enough time in Brussles to become part of the city. We got to experience beautiful parks, fresh markets, and eat the local food. During the last few weeks people started asking me for directions, and advise for how to get around. That was probably my favorite part of Brussels, to feel like a native in a foreign town.

  6. Emily Shepherd

    What a great post, Schuyler! Our time in Brussels was really special and we were given so many wonderful opportunities. I agree with you that going to SHAPE was extremely unique and informative! I never thought I would get to go there. However, I think my favorite part of Brussels was visiting Brugel and Fleishman Hillard. It was very interesting to see the careers that I could potentially go into, but also to hear their perspectives on current events. I especially like Fleishman Hillard because my co-op was in the energy field and it was interesting to hear how one of the consultants lobbied for energy in such a broad range – from NGOs to Exxon Mobile. Being a rising senior, its important to think about my future career, and these two opportunities opened my eyes to very different fields that were both very interesting.

  7. Jarrod Hayes

    Looking forward to seeing more responses. But perhaps the question is premature Schuyler given all you have yet to see?!

  8. Suraj Sehgal

    Great post Schuyler! I agree, SHAPE was an amazing visit that I still cannot believe we had the opportunity to see. Some of my favorite site visits in Brussels included our visit to Bruegel, an economic policy think tank, and Fleishman-hillard, which works with public affairs and strategic communications between the EU and other stakeholders. I think both of them provided a slightly different and more outside view of the European Union that really helped for us to develop our own understandings of it.

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