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Current Situation of the EU and its Problems:What we can learn from EU about regional integration
R.S. (LIII)

     From August 2nd to 12th, we stayed in Otzenhausen, a place not far from Luxembourg and Belgium. We also visited 4 places: Bonn, Brussels, Luxembourg, and Trier, which house various EU-related institutions. We listened to lectures by university professors and EU officials, and we actively participated in workshops related to the topics of the lectures. Many of the activities were devised to relate to the program's theme: “Regional Integration and Cooperation – The EU and East Asia in 2015”. The lectures covered a wide range of subjects, such as politics, economics, environment and law, which provided us with a multilateral perspective on the EU.
     During the program, we had the opportunity to interact with graduate students from Ewha University of Korea and students from Ghent University of Belgium. Through many activities done at the workshops and lectures as well as during free time, we deepened friendships with these students. When we went on excursions to the 4 places, we also had cultural experiences by viewing historical buildings and enjoying local food.
     Currently, the EU is facing many huge problems such as the economic crisis in Greece and refugees from Syria. Japan is a geographically isolated country and is on the opposite side of the Eurasia continent: therefore, as Japanese, we are only able to understand the existence of the EU conceptually and superficially. However, through the lectures, some of which are given at sites where actual EU activities take place, I realized that this project of regional integration is a massive accumulation of efforts in pursuit of peace and prosperity in response to the tragedy of the two world wars. My knowledge of the EU changed from just an organization in a textbook to something real.
     By engaging in talks with other participants, I gained experience beyond what I had expected. The participants were international. In addition to students from Korea and Belgium, there were some students from China, India, and Tanzania, each having different backgrounds. In spite of the diversity of the backgrounds, the total number of the participants was only 37, which was small enough to facilitate communication. Therefore, many different opinions and ideas were shared, and I was inspired in many ways. In addition, the participants spanned from college freshmen to graduate students, which gave me, a freshman, a good opportunity to learn from others’ rich views.
     Through the lectures by professors and EU officials, the visits and the exchange of ideas with others students, ESA has given me a deeper understanding of regional integration’s deep implications to various aspects of society. East Asia has different degree of shared values, different history and geopolitical conflicts from Europe. The visit made me think that the path to regional integration in East Asia will not be a simple “cut and paste” of the EU system. I feel that if it is to be realized, then it will probably be made gradually by the members forming common ideals, values and objectives, while making reference to the rich experiences and achievements made by European states.

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