Working for the European Parliament is in many senses a unique experience. One of them is that you get the chance to work in a multicultural environment with people from all over Europe. In our unit we got “representatives” from 22 different countries.
I normally share office with my nice Bulgarian colleague Svetla, who used to work as a correspondent in Vienna before joining our unit. But since December she has been on maternity leave, and the last couple of weeks I have had the pleasure to share my office with Shelda, who comes from the Seychelles Islands (located in the Indian Ocean). She is currently enrolled in the so called ´Democracy Fellowship Programme´.
As a Northern European, I normally consider Southern Europe as an exotic place: the hot weather, the beaches, the food, the languages and the relaxed way of life in general. But when it comes to exotic places, nothing can really compare to the Seychelles Islands. Shelda showed us last Friday a slideshow from the Islands and it was absolutely amazing: Rain forests, waterfalls, white beaches, huge turtles, palm tress… more or less all the photos she showed looked like they had been picked directly out of a bounty commercial.
I have never felt so cold in my life, even to the point that I could not feel my fingers, nose and ears…
A couple of days ago, I asked her how she could leave this beautiful place for a cold and snowy Brussels.
What was your first impression of Brussels?
Being my second visit to Brussels and to the European Parliament I thought I kind of knew what to expect. I was indeed mistaken. I have never felt so cold in my life, even to the point that I could not feel my fingers, nose and ears…I thought I would not make it to the end of the programme. There was this Saturday morning I was so happy to open the window curtain of my room to see a beautiful weather, perfect for a stroll in the neighbourhood. But it was to my dismay to realize that I still have to wear the heavy coat, the gloves, the hood and the boots. It was no longer a beautiful idea…
How do you view us “eurocrats” working in the Webcomm Unit? In which ways are we different from the colleagues that you normally work with on the Seychelles Islands?
Well, the cold weather has not stopped me from enjoying and making great use of my time here in DG-COMM. I should commend on the good team work that exist among the colleagues and the freedom to share ideas between the heads and the subordinates. I admire the warmth and closeness in your Unit. From day one I had the feeling that I belonged. This is something that needs to be improved on in my parliament.
What will you bring back home to the Seychelles Islands?
I will go back home with lots of good memories and experiences as well as a wider network of friends. I will also carry with me an enhanced and broader understanding of how the EP functions in relation to the other EU-Institutions, in addition with new ideas and practices that could be implemented in the National Assembly of Seychelles.
Shelda will during her programme work for DG COMM, DG EXPO and the Protocol Service. The duration of the programme is 6 weeks.