***Ciara won a separate trip to Euroscola and travelled the week before the rest of us!***
On the 11th of February 2014, I nervously drove to Dublin Airport to met up with 23 other students from around the country to fly to Strasbourg in France to the European Parliament. I had won a trip to the parliament as part of a civic awareness quiz called Gradu8 which my European Studies teacher informed me about.
After Belgium we drove into Germany and then Luxembourg which was also a lovely country. It is small in size but not in population especially in the capital. We had a pizza in Pizza hut and then walked around we got back on the bus and drove to France to Strasbourg to our 2nd nights accommodation the Ibis hotel. Here we checked in and met some Greek people who we all really got along with. We played uno and talked up in the hall about our countries.
On Thursday we went to the European Parliament in Strasbourg. It only took a 20 minute drive. When we got there we went straight into the lunch area and had breakfast and a hot chocolate. After about a half an hour of talking we went into a huge room with seats positioned higher and higher like in a cinema in the shape of a semi circle. The roof was a waved style with holes in it and it was metal. All the European countries flags were on poles hanging behind the MEP'S and translators. We got a seat and was told to put headphones on and there was French English and German translations. There was issues brought up at the discussion and also a presentation by every country to talk a bit about our culture and sport. After this was lunch and at lunch we were put into groups to have 4 people in them one from a different nationality. We had to answer questions in lots of different languages. Then the best 4 groups would compete in a final quiz in front of everyone at the end of the day.
After lunch we were assigned groups I was in the Trapezium group along with 6 other Irish. We went into a room like the other one but smaller with an adjudicator and president and vice president from the students and discussed questions on Renewable energy and the environment. This was further broken into 5 groups of 10 and in my group there was Irish Belgians, and Greeks. We presented what we discussed to the panel and other groups asked us questions on if what we had said was achievable or not.
When 2 hours had passed we all went back into the Hotel and spent our last night together. On Friday morning we checked out of the hotel and got a guided tour around Strasbourg. We visited the Cathedral and the tour guide told us all about the architecture and the history of the building. Then we got on a River Cruise around the City and we put headphones in to understand the English translation from French. After about an hour we then headed back to the bus and drove to the airport of Zurich, Switzerland. We were aloud to walk about duty free for about 2 hours and get lunch. I shared an Italian pizza with my friend. We also went into a Lint shop and bought Lindor chocolates. We had to go through Immigration to get back to Ireland as Switzerland isn't in the EU. I got on the plane at 10 past 9 and we all chatted for the final time. A few tears were shed by some of the girls!
When we reached Terminal 2 at Dublin Airport it was 11pm or so and it was time to give hugs and go our separate ways. We all promised to keep in touch on Facebook! This was an experience I'll never forget and I hope to go back to Strasbourg one day and meet up with all the friends I made.