Thursday, December 15, 2005

A day in France & EU Parliament

On Tuesday we went to Strasbourg, a city in France. It was a university trip arranged by a private NGO aimed at uniting European youth. The city lies exactly on the border of France and Germany and thus is a mixture of both cultures. It is a renowned tourist city, much because of the EU parliament building here. It is a spectacular round building. A very big building, walled from the outside with glass and lying along a river provides a magnificent view. The river flows through the city giving out a branch that later joins it after following a circular path. Within this circular island is the city's heart. But the city spreads across the river as well.

Taking a journey of about 2 hours, we reached the city and inside the EU parliament, one of the three EU administrative building (other two being in Belgiuma and Luxemburg). We were first briefed on the working of the Parliament, then were seated in the observation balconies of the Parliament. A session was in progress. Less than 50 of the nearly 780 members of parliament were present in the 850+ seat round hall. The session and office work is conducted in 20 languages of the 25 member countries. Headphones were available translating speeches of members in those 20 languages. Discussion was related to next EU budget and most were critisizing UK.

After the end of session and our lunch (pizzas), we took a boat trip inside the city showing and informing us about different kinds of buildings. Afterwards we went into the Christmas market. It was beautiful. We had to find our way back. Now we asked the local people if they knew English. Not English but, thank God, they knew some German. So we used our German to communicate with them. This is the first time we felt German to be our language and thankful that we learnt it.

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