In: Marjan Charness24 Nov 2011
While I’ve been studying at Erasmus, I’ve definitely been exposed to plenty of new ideas and schools of thought about international politics. Rather than bore you with theories of European integration, I thought I’d just throw in my two cents about how the EU works (or, in some cases, doesn’t), and why my outlook on the world has definitely shifted to be a bit more balanced between the USA and Europe as a whole.
In case you haven’t noticed, there’s a tad bit of a crisis going on right now in the Eurozone. This became painfully clear to me whenever I travelled outside of countries that used the Euro – Great Britain in particular. The countries that aren’t on the Euro are quite happy that they aren’t, while major political leaders in the Eurozone are scrambling to salvage the single currency. While the issues surrounding the Euro might receive the most media attention and hubbub, the EU has managed to accomplish plenty of other things to help out the citizens of its 27 member states.
To throw out one example: I went to Scotland this weekend! It was awesome! It was also very, very foggy at Schiphol airport when I was supposed to depart. So foggy, in fact, that the flight departures board was covered with red print signaling delays and cancelled flights. My flight was delayed by an hour, then two, then four. Back in the USA, if your flight is delayed, you’re on your own. I’ve had many missed connections and paid for several rebooking fees because of weather delays. In the European Union, however, airline passengers are entitled to certain rights. I found out about this first-hand when I was offered a voucher for a free breakfast because my flight had been delayed for more than three hours. Free breakfast! How awesome is that? See, sometimes regulations actually do help consumers.
Being enrolled in courses about European politics has definitely opened my eyes to see how big the world is (sorry for the cliché, but it’s true…). I’m genuinely curious as to how much news coverage the Eurocrisis will receive in the newspapers back at home. Studying abroad has definitely made me think twice about the role that the United States plays in influencing international economic policies.
On a less serious note, you should know that if you get one of those vouchers for free food, you have to use the voucher in the airport on the day of the scheduled flight. I thought it meant that I got a free breakfast on my flight, and, alas, my six euro breakfast will forever go unconsumed. I kept the voucher though – it’ll look nice in my scrapbook.
Follow this blog to learn more about your fellow international students at Erasmus University Rotterdam. Read about their experiences, tips and stories and don't hesitate to comment if you have any questions or remarks.