From walking around Berlin trying to find interviews to landing in Aarhus during a winter snowstorm, I can’t pinpoint a single best memory. The entire year was constant movement.
I was one of the two Americans in our group of 18 people from around the world. One student had already reported in Afghanistan, while others were fairly new to journalism, and were in this program through their grad school. It attracts people from all walks of life, and that's what makes it so memorable.
You take the same classes, live, travel, party, and study with this group for 10 months. It’s intense, but by the end, you’re a solid family.
The first semester in the Netherlands is VERY theoretical. I don't think many of us knew this going in. Classes are heavy in economics/politics/history and assignments are less journalistic and more essay/analysis papers. It was a little frustrating for a lot of us because we wanted to write articles and not take exams/read textbooks. And unlike U.S. schools, in the Netherlands you take 1 class at a time for 3 weeks, and then onto the next.
In Denmark, the program shifts to in-the-field. The spring semester is less structured than the fall because you have very few classes. A lot of time is spent preparing for the two big assignments: "Euroviews" and "The Final Project."
Euroviews is the magazine and online story you'll produce. You're given 3 weeks to go out and report. We were given a choice of 3 countries, with the topic, "Sustainability and Climate Change". I went to Spain to write about water scarcity. The biggest challenge is working almost completely on your own. There's little/no feedback from professors in Denmark after you select your topic and go!
Setting up interviews, language barriers and managing the looming deadline is challenging. I don't know Spanish, so it was hard finding sources in smaller towns. The Final Project can be any story you want. I went to Paris to cover housing rights and homelessness.
In the end, the best part of this year is the people you will be with- hands down. From piling 6 of us in a tiny car for a roadtrip Germany, to the ritual Friday beers at Steff's bar, this group will become your family.
There is no "typical week" in this program. One day you're studying for an exam in a Utrecht coffeeshop, the next week you're sitting in the press room inside the EU Parliament. Three months later you're trying to pronounce "skjoldhøjkollegiet" (the name of your new dorm) to the taxi driver in Aarhus. If you don't like anything close to a routine, you will probably enjoy this year.
And my final advice: get a UV sunlamp for those first few months in Denmark.
Europe in the World, 2009-2010