Monday, October 4, 2010


So I am interning at the Western European Office for the State of Illinois. They are part of the Department of Commerce and help with FDI and getting European Firms into the state and getting Illinois' firms to expand to Europe.

So far it has been really great. The office has four other staff members; one British woman, one French woman, one Irish woman and an Italian woman.

It is also great because I hope on the tram a block from my house and just ride it down about 20 stops.

Amsterdam: The Trip

I can only apologies for the long pause in blog posts!

Amsterdam seems so long ago but it was only two weekends ago. I had a wonderful first weekend in Europe.

We got to the bus station and sat down for a three and a half hour bus ride. I got to see Rotterdam along the way.

 Here is what our hostel looked like. The bathroom was just a floor with a toilet and the shower came out of the wall. We had a great view of the canal and we were about a block from the hopping area of town.

 This was our staircase of doom. Three flights of death.
 Our group in front of the Can Gogh Museum. Which was amazing!  It liked it because for like 5 euros you got in and also got an audio guide. My favorite was one of Van Goghs paintings that he did for his nephew and was this deep blue color. 
 Me in a clog. It took a lot to not buy a large clog to take home...
After we took pictures we went to the Anne Frank house which was very moving. 

Sitting outside the Rijksmuseum. It was supper nice there. Lots of Vermeer and Rembrand. My favorit was this painting called Old Woman at Prayer.

Oh yeah. We also did a two hour tour of Heineken and got to drink three beers for 15 euros. Good deal.

Saturday we went on a pub crawl and made friends. All and all an exhausting weekend filled with lots of touristy activities.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Royal Museum for Central Africa

Today I only had one interview so I decided to go to the Royal Museum for Central Africa. It is outside of the city in Tevuren. It was built for the 1897 World Exhibition to show off the Belgian Congo by Leopold II. The exhibition displayed objects from Africa, stuffed animals and in the "Hall of the Great Cultures" Congo's most important exports were displayed: coffee, rubber and tobacco. In the park, a copy of an African village was built, in which 60 Africans lived (imported from the Congo). The exposition was a huge success.

This museum was super awkward.

1) The STUFFED ANIMALS: Like real stuffed animals.

It was so sad to see all the baby animals there. They specifically went hunting for them!

2) It had an awkward "White Man's Burden" feel to it.

They had status of Africans seeming weak and like they needed protection and made the Belgians seem the the protectors.

It was uncomfortable to walk around and see the results of the raping and pillaging of a country 180 times the size of the Belgium.

In Bruges

We went to Bruges as a class on Saturday. It is one of the best preserved pre-motorised cities in Europe.

Bruges used to be a MAJOR port city during the 13-15th centuries. It was blessed with a natural harbor and a connection to every river in Europe. This allowed for almost all of the commerce coming into Europe to go through Bruges and because trade=money the city flourished.

But by the 1500's the river to the North Sea was silting up and ships could no longer pass though. The end of commerce caused the city to stop building and tearing down old buildings.

Here is a photo of me with the Belfort.

One of the many cannals in the city. Most homes have a little door that is right next to the water.

Lace is a big deal in Belgium. Bruges has a lace making school that attracts people from all over the world.

The Belfort is right on the town square and they had a beer festive there this weekend and it was packed!

Style in the Grand Place

Below you will find two interestingly dressed people at the Grand Place.

Note that she is wearing 4.5 inch stilettos on a cobblestone street. I can barley manage this hike in flats.

I loved how this guy was dressed. So chic and practical, also look at that hat.

The First Week + 2 Days(But not Bruges)

Well I survived the first week. We had classes on Thursday and Friday after what seemed like weeks of orientation.

We did classes in the history of the EU, how Belgian politics work, and the history of Belgium. The history class was taught by a 70 year old man from Ireland who like to tell jokes and talk about some random thing.

He started off the class with some real classics:
1. A doctor, architect and politician were fighting over what job was created first.  The doctor said that “Eve was made from Adam’s rib, so God needed to do surgery”.  The architect said “Yes but the chaos needed to be organized and planned before the creation of Adam”.  The politician stood up and said “Who do you think created the chaos?”
2. I asked the new mother what she named her child and she said “Jimmy”.  I responded “What?  Every Tom, Dick and Harry is named Jimmy”
3.The Irish laugh at jokes three times: The first time they hear it, when they tell the joke to someone else, and six month later when they finally understand it.

We spent Saturday in Bruges, which will be covered in another post!

Monday we had one political class and one econ class that was just an overview. I also had two interview( one with the state of Illinois and the other with Lilly[the chemical company]). I really like the state of Illinois office where I would be doing research of FDI and getting FDI to Illinois. Lilly not so much- moral qualms about working for a chemical company.

Today I had a meeting with the Belarus business council(WHICH I LOVED) and I went to the Museum of Central Africa-which will be covered in another post. It was super awkward.