Whilst many students spent their February midterm catching up on much needed sleep, a brave group of LC1 students met outside CCC at 4:30 in the morning for the eagerly anticipated trip to Brussels and Cologne. Not even the groggy bodies and typically mundane Irish weather could
dampen the enthusiasm as we boarded our 7:30 flight into the heartland of the European Union, Brussels.
We arrived at the European Parliament, where we were given a tour of the historic building, before Brian Hayes (MEP for Dublin) was generous enough to take time out of his bustling schedule to have an engaging Q and A session. We discussed topics ranging from threats to European Integration, to how he was coping with the gruelling journey of Dublin to Brussels. After a quick photo shoot they were back onto the bustling streets of Brussels for lunch.
Somewhat unsurprisingly, the nearest McDonalds was soon over flowing with students finishing Big Macs and frantically waving iPhones in an attempt to gain a better Wi-Fi signal (it would become a common sight over the next few days). After ‘lunch’ the group headed to the European Commission for a talk on the functions of various European Institutions. By the end of the talk, the early start was starting to catch up on many of the students, but all were grateful to finally get onto the bus and start the three hour drive to the Youth Hostel in Cologne.
Day two started with a guided tour of Cologne- a town which, in fact, has a long, exciting history, but what caught most of the attention as we were driven through the city was the scale of their Carnival (think of a weeklong St. Patrick’s Day festival) celebrations that had just finished. After this the students were given time to explore the sprawling city of Cologne, before heading into the 4711 Eau de Cologne building. Here there was a workshop on the history of Eau De Cologne before we were given strips of various aromas to get a sense of the different oils available. Following dinner in the hostel, we set out to the local bowling alley, where for an hour friendships became irrelevant in people’s pursuit of victory, leaving just enough time for a last stop trip to the local shop to stock up on cans of Monster and sweets in order to keep the concentration levels high for the next day. Our third day passed just as quickly as the first two, consisting of a trip to neighbouring Dusseldorf to get a tour of the WDR Radio. Following a lunch in Dusseldorf (again McDonalds and KFC were in high demand) we went to back to Cologne to find the nearest Irish Pub in order to catch the Champions League Football and to sample the highly recommended Brownie and Ice Cream dessert. Needless to say, the dessert was giving unanimous support from all that sampled it.
And just like that we were already on our last day and onto the much anticipated trip to Cologne’s Ford Factory. Here we were brought around the huge complex and shown exactly how Ford Cars are built, from the assembling of pieces all the way through to the final production tests. It was amazing to see just how many machines and workers were needed to produce a Ford car. After the tour, it was back to Cologne to spend the last few hours in the city centre before heading to the airport to unwillingly fly back to Dublin. The flight home consisted of some students sleeping, some talking and discussing their favourite parts of the trip but everyone agreed that it was an immensely enjoyable trip. Thanks to Mr.McCluskey and the other teachers for organising.