GT in the EU

An extraordinary education

Author: Grainne Hutton

Debate: The Global War on Terror has been a Failure (but not according to us)

Returning to Brussels after a week in Ireland felt almost like we were returning home. It was a great feeling to be back with our host families to share the stories of our travels, and to sleep in our own beds again (not to mention all the laundry we were able to do!). This week found us taking the familiar tram ride to Université Libre de Bruxelles, but not for our typical lecture. The first couple of weeks of the program when we met at ULB, it was for preparatory work before our On-Site visits – making sure we were as knowledgeable as possible on the different branches of the European Union and the roles of the Member States as well as current issues. Today, we were able to utilize our knowledge and put it to the test of our fellow students in the form of an official Oxford-style debate. We were split up into two teams (a pro side and a con side) to tackle the claim “The Global War on Terror has been a failure” from a European perspective.

Pro-Group hard at work on the ULB lawn

The debate was very insightful, as everyone was so educated and well-read on the subject. The heated debate lasted three rounds: the first round responding directly to the claim of whether or not the Global War on Terror had been a failure, the second round counterarguing each group’s main argument, and the third round left to challenge the opposing sides.

As Georgia Tech students tend to do, everyone made an extra effort and took many extra hours preparing in order to try to outsmart the other side. Secret meetings were held, trash talking ensued, and the overall debate was fantastically done. Both sides made great points, arguing the positive and negative aspects of the War on Terror. And though it was a valiant effort on both parts, the ‘con’ group – who argued that the Global War on Terrorism had not been a failure – gained a slight edge on the opposing ‘pro’ group by focusing more specifically on the European perspective.

This debate was very much a learning process for both teams, regardless of the outcome. It gave us an understanding as to how people who are facing these issues in EU politics might handle them, and helped us to realize just how much we need to look at both perspectives of an issue in order to gain a full awareness and comprehension of the situation.

Although we gained helpful insight into the minds of working politicians within the EU, I still believe a rematch is in order.

Four Generations

A major component of people’s desire to study abroad rests in the idea of immersing oneself into another culture. By living with a family while studying abroad, you are given an immersion into another culture unparalleled to that of any other study abroad. It has only been a few short weeks, but living with a host family has allowed me to experience Brussels as more than just a traveler; it’s becoming my home.

When traveling to other countries, the excitement of exploring that country’s attractions often outweighs the cultural nuances that can be observed. We spent the first couple of days as a class on bus tours and walking tours learning of the history of Brussels and witnessing what draws the 7.5 million tourists to visit this magnificent capital each year. These whirlwind tours showed us the surface of Brussels, and allowed us the following weeks to delve into the depths of the culture and atmosphere of Brussels on our own. Every morning we meet at different locations around the city, and need to know the city well enough to get around without looking at our phones for every turn. As is human nature, we fall into patterns and routines. I know that if I miss the tram next to my house, I have time to grab a coffee from the cafe right next door as the next tram won’t come for at least 8 minutes. The fresh market at Place Flagey every Sunday morning entices me to wake up early to watch the hustle and bustle of the vendors and customers (and it helps that they have fantastic strawberries). I meet some other students under the Arches in the park after class at least once a week, just because the sun doesn’t set until 9 and we have so much more time in the day here. All of these are things I wouldn’t fully experience as simply a traveler in Brussels.

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