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New year, new experiences - Starting 2019 with a European study tour

Posted By Yen Nguyen, Monday, 21 January 2019

A trip to Europe during the first week of 2019 was definitely a great way to start the year. In the first week of 2019, my schoolmates and I headed to Brussels and Paris for a study tour offered by the communications department of our school. It was a moving learning experience that has left me missing Brussels and Paris until now.

From L-R: Putro Harnowo (Indonesia, HKBU MAIJS ‘19), Yen Nguyen (Vietnam, HKBU MAIJS ‘19) and Rahoof Abdul (India, HKBU MAIJS ‘19) in front of the Grand Place in Brussels


We arrived in Brussels at eight in the morning, where we were welcomed by a quiet, sleeping city. Coming from Asia where people were out on the streets at six in the morning, I found it amusing.

Brussels, a small city with a population of 1.2 million people, the heart of the European Union and the land of chocolate and comic strips. Its most impressive landmarks are the Grand Place, a lively cobbled square surrounded by 300-year-old buildings, and the Atomium, a 335-feet-tall architecture with stainless steel spheres representing a magnified iron crystal. The Belgian Comic Strip Center is also quite remarkable, having about 5,000 original drawings on display.

My schoolmates and I were also shown around the European Parliament. There, we learned about the European integration, how parliament works and what its members were doing to address its challenges. We left for Paris the next day, but I took a part of Belgium with me in the form of five boxes of Belgian chocolates stowed safely in my luggage.


Upon getting to Paris, I did not fall in love with the city right away. I could not deny, however, that it was very picturesque. It deserved to be photographed, and it was hard to ignore the architecture, history and culture of the city.

HKBU postgraduate students at the European Parliament (left) and Radio France (right)

The visit was not entirely peaceful however, as it had coincided with the Yellow Vest protest. One time, I was on my way to the Arc de Triomphe, which had just reopened after being vandalized by protestors, and there were riots and policemen in every corner. I felt scared walking alone; however, I braved through it, and it became an eye-opening experience for me.


From L-R: Hinrich Foundation scholars Rahoof Abdul, Yen Nguyen and Putro Harnowo visit the Eiffel Tower.

Visiting foreign countries can be exhilarating, unpredictable and sometimes scary, but this trip to Brussels and Paris will always be memorable because I had gone on it with my friends and fellow scholars Rahoof Abdul and Putro Harnowo.

I am thankful to the Hinrich Foundation and Hong Kong Baptist University for this experience, which has allowed me to explore new places, meet interesting people and open my mind to new ideas and possibilities.  

About the author

   Yen Nguyen is a Hinrich scholar from Vietnam, currently in her second semester of the Master's of Art in International Journalism Studies program at Hong Kong Baptist University, after a one-year internship at Hinrich Foundation Vietnam office, supporting the Foundation's marketing team. 


Tags:  Europe  scholars  study tour 

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