Model EU: Putting Our Knowledge to the Test

Zach Cohen
December 18, 2016

Finals are over, my suitcases are halfway packed, and my flight home leaves in just a few days.  That must mean the semester is over, right?  Think again!  Because at IES Abroad European Union, nothing is over until you have put your knowledge to test by roleplaying as the EU itself.  Yet, while I might have been groaning on Thursday evening, knowing full well I was so close and yet so far from the sweet, sweet release of winter break, by the middle of Friday afternoon I was passionately representing the Baltic states in a series of heated debates on the most pressing topics in the news today.

While our ‘summit’ itself is no doubt less functional than most Model UN clubs, what we lack in experience we make up in fervor and personality.  But that's not to say it isn’t a serious endeavour.  Model EU is an integral component of the program, something we have been building toward all semester long.  Here we have the opportunity to apply all that we have learned, from our knowledge of institutions and bureaucracy, to attitudes of member states gathered on our field trips.  We can discuss and criticize current and potential policies, and draw note to the cross-cutting nature of issues including migration, terrorism, Brexit, and even energy policy.

The experience isn’t only about testing our diplomatic aptitude - it is also simply a chance to view ourselves as though we were actually diplomats.  Each of our country’s flags stand proud on the table, their presence alone providing insight into the comradery and rivalries that member-states will develop.’ Our business formal attire sets the mood a legitimate meeting, creating an air of professionalism; there is thereby a weight to our discussions, even though there in reality is none.

One of the interesting things about doing this at the end of the semester is that everyone on the program knows everyone else pretty well - after all we’ve been each other's only connections back home for the past four months.  What this means in relation to Model EU is that it feels much more difficult to separate personal biases from our country positions, and the debates seem to become very personal.  While I doubt any friendships will be shattered, there certainly are high levels of frustration and animosity in the air.

The day after we finish Model EU I will be headed out of Freiburg and begin the journey back to the U.S. - but just because I’ll be leaving Europe doesn’t mean I will shed my interest for the EU.  Hopefully the European Union that I have enjoyed studying so much this semester will continue to find successes in the years to come.  I certainly plan on staying engaged, and am excited for future IES Abroad EU students, whom I hope have as informative a semester as I have.


Zach Cohen

<p>Hello! &nbsp;My name is Zach and I am so happy you are here! &nbsp;I grew up in Tucson, Arizona, and am currently a Junior at Occidental College, where I am double-majoring in History and International Relations. &nbsp;I&#39;m fascinated by the connections between the past and the present, and the role that history plays in modern diplomacy. &nbsp;Be sure to keep up with my travels as I explore Freiburg and the European Union this semester!</p>

2016 Fall
Home University:
Occidental College
International Relations
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