“London isn’t just a city. It’s a world.”

I almost have no words for how incredible London was this weekend. My wallet didn’t particularly like how expensive the city is, but I would do it all over again with no regrets. London is absolutely amazing.

Haley and I were able to find a cheap bus to London this weekend through IDBus. It was definitely longer than other means of transportation there, but we saved a lot of money. When we got in Friday night, we went to Hannah’s apartment. Hannah is on another Missouri Journalism Abroad program, but in the London location.

The next morning we got up early to go to a cute diner for breakfast. Then, we went to the Camden Market, which is a market that had lots of food, clothes, souvenir and other vendors. It was a very enjoyable experience and a lot of items were lower on the price scale. I got a very European-looking dress for 10 pounds, which is about 15 dollars. After the Camden Market, we went to Borough Market, which is sort of similar to Camden market, but more food-based. We still were not hungry yet from the big breakfast we had, so we decided to walk around the river and explore Southbank.

This area Hannah described as reminding her of Venice Beach and I could definitely see it. It was a gorgeous day and people were just eating and drinking at restaurants along the river. We passed Shakespeare’s Globe, the London Eye, Big Ben and more. We also stopped to get food at a restaurant down there.

Then, we took the tube back near Hannah’s house and stopped in at a bar in Little Venice to get a Pimms pitcher because it is apparently a popular drink in London that we had to try. Little Venice was beautiful and also very quaint.

Then we went back to Hannah’s apartment to get ready because Haley and I were going to see Phantom of the Opera that night at Her Majesty’s Theatre. We got down to Piccadilly Circus, which is the area that all of the shows are at. It’s such a lively area. It reminded me of New York City. The streets were lit with the lights from billboards, people were lively and music filled the streets.

The theater was a little bit small, but in an intimate close-interaction with the show kind of way. It was great. I had only seen bits and pieces of The Phantom of the Opera movie and had never seen the show, so I was thrilled. The show was fantastic and they had such great and quick set changes and the singing was amazing as well as the acting. It was one of my favorite activities so far during my summer in Europe.

After we got out, we met up with some people from the Mizzou trip for a night of clubbing. Let me just tell you that Brussels nightlife has absolutely nothing on London’s (which is probably so much better for my wallet). We went to a bar called Bar Rumba that was underground and a little bit small, but really fun. They were playing a ton of American early 2000s music and everyone in the entire place was dancing. And it wasn’t like American “dancing” is now where everyone tries to just dance up on one another. People in London actually knew how to dance and it was great. The attire was also very different than in Brussels. I would say it was very similar to what you would wear to go clubbing in the US. Brussels is just a lot more conservative clothing-wise, so it was a bit of a shock to me.

After Bar Rumba we went to Piccadilly Institute, which was almost a surreal experience. Walking up to the club, we noticed that there was red ropes and a guest list. We said the name of one of the people we were with’s coworker in order to get in. When we walked in, it didn’t seem that fun, but that’s because the first floor is rather calm. When we walked up the stairs, it was like we were in a whole other world. Piccadilly Institute seemed to have endless floors of dance music, people and great interior design. It was really hard to keep everyone together, but it was a lot of fun as well.

The next day we got up took the tube to Big Ben and then walked to all of the main attractions. We saw Big Ben, Parliament, Westminster Abbey, Buckingham Palace, and St. James’ Park.

Then, we took a tube over towards the Tower of London, but we decided we needed to get some food first. We stumbled across this pub called The Minories, which turned out to be a TripAdvisor suggestion. It is a pub under the train, so it was a really cool vibe. We sat there and ate fish and chips while drinking a Guinness and watching the Wimbledon finals. It was very enjoyable.

When we went to see Tower Bridge it was still drizzling a little, but it was still nice. Then we went to King’s Cross Railway Station to see Platform 9 3/4, but the line to take a picture would have been about 45 minutes and we did’t really have time, so we got creative and took pictures next to it.

We took an overnight bus back home to Brussels and I got really lucky because they didn’t need me to come into work that day. London was an absolutely amazing trip and it was the first place that I have been to in Europe that I could actually see myself living. However, I suggest budgeting a lot of money if you ever decide to go to London because everything is more expensive than I originally thought it would be.

Interviewing Tsipras (Biggest Name in Headlines)… NBD

This summer is a crazy time to report in Brussels, Belgium. At Thomson Reuters we cover a ton of topics, but the Greek debt crisis consumes most of our time and energy recently. It may not seem like that big of a deal to everyone at home, but it has consistently been at the top of media headlines from many countries this summer (including the US). I wanted to share some of the things that I have been working on with everyone at home because the videos we produce are bought by media companies all over the world. So many of the things we put out from Reuters in Brussels ends up on CNN and other American news channels.

So why exactly is Greece a big deal and what exactly have I been working on?

Last night history was made. Greece had been fighting default for five years, but last night Greece missed a payment to the International Monetary Fund and they are the first developed country to do so. The Greek crisis is far from over. Greece is headed down a path to leave the Euro and there is fiery tension between the Greek government and their creditors as well as other EU leaders.

I must say that reporting in a foreign country is difficult, but it is even more challenging to be thrown into such an important and complex story. The past two weeks have been a marathon for political reporters here in Brussels. Here are the three main types of meetings that we covered in regards to Greece.

  1. Eurogroup Meetings – The Eurogroup meetings are between all of the finance ministers from countries that use the Euro.
  2. European Summits – European Summits are meetings between the heads of state of all 28 EU member-states.
  3. Meetings between key EU figures and Tsipras – There were frequent meetings between Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and key EU people such as Juncker, Dijsselbloem, Draghi, Lagarde and Schulz.

Working these events can be challenging, but I have interviewed some of the world’s top leaders regarding one of the biggest international stories of the year. I was standing just an arms length away from Greece’s Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras when he said the highly-used quote about how EU leaders are blackmailing Greece. At this point in time, the world thought that Greece was wanting to reach a deal, but I got to see the expression in his eyes and the demeanor in which he stormed out of the EU Summit first-hand. I told my colleagues that did not see his it up-close that Greece was out. Sure enough, Tsipras called for a referendum later that night.

That video of my interview with Alexis Tsipras was bought by over 75 clients around the world. My video was on top news channels across the world including CNN. Here is the interview published on Reuters’ website (about 30 seconds in).

During the month of June, the Reuters Video News Team in Brussels produced an all-time record of 116 stories in one month. 116 stories does not sound like very much, but I would like to add that there are only 5 real employees and 2 interns at this branch.

I started thinking about all of the world leaders that I have either interviewed, held a microphone up to for a statement or filmed at a press conference. Here is the list.

  • Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras
  • British Prime Minister David Cameron
  • German Chancellor Angela Merkel
  • Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi
  • President of the European Parliament Martin Schulz
  • European Central Bank President Mario Draghi
  • President of the European Council Donald Tusk
  • Eurogroup President Jereon Dijsselbloem
  • IMF President Christine Lagarde
  • And countless financial minister

Paris is always a good idea – Audrey Hepburn

… and a good idea it was.

YouWine in Paris have probably heard it before, but I am going to say it again anyway. Paris is absolutely magical. If you are traveling to Europe, I highly recommend spending at least a few days in Paris. You will never run out of things to see.

When we first arrived on Friday, we dropped our stuff off in our AIrbnb and got food at this little restaurant near our place. Of course, we ordered some French wine.

After dinner and some drinks we walked along the river and got to see some of Paris’ major monuments at night. The river was full of cute couples and groups of friends sitting around with blankets and bottles of wine. You could say that it was a perfect idea to get acquainted to the city when we first got it. I just wish that we had some more time to sit along the river as well.

That night, we went to the Eiffel Tower to see it lit up at night. I highly highly recommend going to the tower at night because it completely took my breath away.  The tower sparkles for two minutes on the hour every night (but if you’re going be aware that 1 a.m. is the last time it sparkles). It was my favorite thing I have done over my entire month in Europe so far. It is a must-see.

The next day, we got brunch at the cutest restaurant. We tried various breads and spreads and (of course) drank some mimosas. We then set off on our day of art exploring. We went to the Louvre which was so much larger than I imagined. I could have spent hours in there. It is easy to get lost and overwhelmed in the Louvre, but I followed the signs to the most well-known pieces and saw a lot of other great artwork along the way.

After the Louvre, we went to Musee d’Orsay. This museum was much smaller, but it is in an old train station. The architecture of the building was amazing along with some great Monet paintings.

Sunday morning I finally fulfilled my crepe craving and got the foamiest cappuccino I’ve ever seen.

As we were walking to Notre Dame, we ran across the Love Lock bridge. We read in the news earlier that they were taking all of the locks down, so we didn’t expect to see a bunch of the locks still there when we went. I wish that I knew they were still there because I would have brought a lock, but at the same time it would have been a little depressing putting a lock on there knowing it would be torn down.

Then, we went to go see Notre Dame. We planned on taking a tour up to the top to see the bells, but the line would’ve wasted our whole day. Instead, we noticed that there was mass going on because it was Sunday, so we decided that was a better option. I am Protestant, not Catholic, but mass at Notre Dame was a spiritual experience no matter what faith you practice. I’m going to attach pictures because there are no adjectives to describe this kind of beauty.

After Notre Dame, we went back to the Eiffel Tower to see it in the daylight.

IMG_4063

Then we went to the Arc de Triomphe, which holds their tomb of the unknown soldier.

I wish we had more time in Paris, but it was an amazing weekend none-the-less! I hope I get the opportunity to go back at some point in my life.

How many international organizations/prime ministers did I interview this week?

For those of you that are not familiar with international politics, Europe is in a mass of chaos right now and it is our jobs as journalists to make some sense of everything and report it to the world. For those of you who have not been keeping up with my travels abroad, I am interning at Thomson Reuters in the TV department. Essentially what we do is report all of the big international news and we sell our videos and stories to other news stations and newspapers, etc.

Greece is currently in an economic crisis and they need to repay the IMF (International Monetary Fund) by June 30 or they will face default and potentially get kicked out of the EuroZone (but nobody actually seems to want that to happen). Basically, as the deadline approaches, our job as journalists is to keep up with the progress of the negotiations. The entire world has their eye on Greece right now.

This week, I reported for a meeting between President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the European Parliament Martin Schulz, European Central Bank President Mario Draghi, President of the European Council Donald Tusk and Eurogroup President Jeroen Dijsselbloem. We waited by the main entrance to get video of them arriving and leaving and I held the microphone and attempted ambush-like interviews. Not everyone came in the main entrance. but I interviewed Donald Tusk and Jereon Dijsselbloem. Now, they did not want to say much, but it was still very cool.

I got to go to Luxembourg this week for the Eurogroup meeting. We left on Wednesday night and went straight to work on Thursday morning. I covered the arrival of Christine Lagarde from the IMF. When she was in a meeting, we set up the live shot for the press conference. She mostly spoke in French, but I finally asked if she could repeat what she said in English also. (Many journalists were happy about that and we needed an English sound bite for our customers anyway). She essentially said that the IMF will not consider an extension and that Greece will face default if they do not make the repayment by the end of the month. She also criticized Greece for not reforming their pension plan. Our video can be found on all kinds of media sites, but here is one example!

Working for Thompson Reuters at the Lagarde press conference.

Working for Thompson Reuters at the Lagarde press conference.

Then, I went to the Eurogroup meeting where I held the microphone at the departures. Some of the Finance Ministers held press conferences that other coworkers covered, but some talked to me on the way out. It is a bit intimidating to say the least to be working with the world’s best journalists and interviewing such influential people. It’s especially intimidating to talk to the big names such as Greece’s Minister of Finance (since he is so important in the news right now), but the skills that I have learned at KOMU and in the J-School honestly have prepared me. I just have to calm my nerves and have faith in my reporting skills (easier said than done).

Taking a second to laugh while filming the Finance Minister departures at the Eurogroup meeting,

Taking a second to laugh while filming the Finance Minister departures at the Eurogroup meeting,

Basically, my internship is so much work. I am constantly working more hours than everyone and at weird times. I am almost never able to attend class and I had to take an exam the day before everyone else via Skype. Honestly, my days are long and exhausting. I am working harder than ever before. But at the end of the day, this is the opportunity of a lifetime. I am working for the world’s largest news agency in the most politically important city at such a critical time. All of that makes the hard work worth it.

Foreign Interviews and World Leaders: EU-CELAC Summit

IMG_3509

I have learned a lot this past week and a half since I wrote about my internship, so I thought I would post an update.

Thursday I covered a story at the European Parliament. The UN presented an appeal for more money to go towards humanitarian acts in Iraq. After the presentations were over, we went to the hall and I got to conduct one-on-one interviews. My first interview was with Lise Grande, the U.N. humanitarian coordinator for Iraq. Then, I got to interview Anthony Lake, the Executive Director of UNICEF. Lastly, I interviewed the Kurdistan Regional Government Minister for Planning, Ali Sindi. It was incredible to get to interview such high-profile people. When we got back to the office, my boss was happy and said that I got good vox-pops (soundbites). The cameraman that I was with cut the videos and I wrote the shotlist in iNews and worked on the story. It was the first real story that I did and I really enjoyed it.

Waterloo is a really big deal here in Belgium and this summer is the bicentennial. Basically, 200 years ago Napoleon was defeated in the Battle of Waterloo, which is near Brussels. Belgium is very proud of this and made a proposal to have a commemorative €2 coin in honor of the battle. Well, to make that real, all countries in the EuroZone (countries that use the Euro) would need to approve. Obviously, France wasn’t happy about it and wouldn’t approve it, so Belgium withdrew the proposal. They got around this rule by creating a €2.5 coin and a €10 coin (that is not actually valid currency) to be a collectors’ item. I went to a press conference about the new coins and then helped shoot video of the coins being made, which made for some cool sequences. This story was targeted for our French clients, so I came up with questions with one of the print interns that speaks French and then he asked them because I could not. When I got back, I wrote the story and shot list in iNews.

1497461_10200570156452427_8945762295773321444_n

This week was the EU-CELAC Summit where the heads of European and Latin American countries met for discussions. Getting into the European Council building is worse than airport security, but there was a bomb threat here while we were here yesterday, so I guess I understand why. I went out and helped cover a Mexican protest. The protestors mentioned the students that went missing and an unclean recent election as reasons why they want the EU to stop supporting the current Mexican President because they believe he is not helping Mexico’s situation. It was interesting. I conducted my first interview in a foreign language. Gracias professora Reina. The summits are a lot of rushing around to wait. It’s a lot of rushing to press conferences to hear that they are cancelled or rushing to get an interview and then waiting a long time before anything else happens. Either way, it is really cool to be here with some of the world’s top leaders.

Day 1 in Brussels

Well today is the day that I officially moved to Belgium for the summer. We got into Brussels at 9 in the morning there, but it was 2 in the morning in St. Louis. When we got off the plane we all traveled in the big group to the guy holding the Mizzou sign. We took shuttles to our apartments and it was not the drive that we expected. Sure, we saw a few older buildings, but for the most part it was just new modern buildings with lots of shopping. It reminded us of DC or Michigan Avenue.

When we got to the apartments, it was amazing. The living room and the dining room are extremely spacious and kind of modern. We went up the spiral staircase to find 3 bedrooms. They were all a little different, but they are decently spacious. It definitely works for how little stuff we even have right now. The best part about the apartment is our rooftop deck. The walls are pretty high, so it’s hard to see the view, but if you climb up a little you can see that it is breathtaking. I know that will be my favorite space in our apartment.

After we unpacked, a lady from the complex came around checking everything and it was the first time that we had a bit of a culture shock. She spoke no English, so it was hard to communicate with her. We had to tap on her and direct her to an outlet that is broken to communicate. Nobody in my apartment speaks a lick of French, so this will be new to all of us.

Shortly after, the guys came up to our apartment to visit and we all decided to go walk around the city. We went down our street and then left and we eventually ran into all the main shopping. There were a ton of cute stores that I want to check out soon and hopefully they are cheap enough. While we were walking the streets, we ran into a waffle vendor and we knew that we needed to try it. Trying to order the waffle was a little funny because we don’t speak French so we looked at the sign and tried our best to pronounce it.

The waffle was nothing like our waffles. Sure it has the imprints of a waffle, but it was almost bitter and it was drenched in chocolate. It was a complete shock because it’s not what we are used to, but it was great nonetheless.

We stopped by a market to get toilet paper, hand soap and a few essential groceries. We just mainly picked up water bottles and something to eat for breakfast tomorrow.

Then we went to an orientation at our Mizzou office with Garreth. I definitely don’t remember how we got there. He was super nice and funny, but I can tell that our class is going to be a lot more work than I was expecting. I have a feeling when I get home from work on the weekdays, we will be super busy and staying in a lot.

He did answer a lot of our questions about traveling on weekends and he suggests traveling a lot around Brussels. He also said that it would be dumb not to go to Paris, Amsterdam and London because they are about an hour and a half away is all. I still think that I want to try to go to Barcelona because he said it’s one of the best cities in the world and it’s a quick plane ride. However, I think that will be my last flying trip. Anyway, I’m overwhelmed and feel like I need to start planning right away.

We then walked to dinner at this cute restaurant. It was paid for all by Mizzou, which is amazing. He gave us a few Brussels choices and I didn’t know what to pick, but I decided to go with this shrimp and mussels pasta. A lot of people tried rabbit also, but I’ll have to save that for another day. Apparently it was really good. I loved my mussels and the pasta was so great too. We also got a few choices of Belgium beers to try. I tried Kriek, which is a cherry beer and it tasted just like candy. I loved it. The second beer that I got was a Heigen(something) and it was also good.

After dinner, we walked home with the intention of going out, but we physically were drained. Instead we got a good nights sleep.

A resolution for all college students: stay updated on current events

It’s the time of year that everyone starts posting about their New Years Resolutions. Well I have a New Years Solution that all college students should have. Stay updated about current events.

Obviously I work in news and study political science as well, so I have an interest in what is going on in the world around me, but most college students do not. Earlier this year, I was proud to wear my “I Voted” sticker around campus, but almost nobody my age had voted. When talking to friends about voting, many of them either did not know that it was time to vote or they felt that they did not know enough about the issues to go vote.

Most college students prefer the “ignorance is bliss” approach. They do not have full-time jobs and they feel that a lot of things in the news do not affect them. It makes me sad that people think like this because current events DO affect you and I hope you will take the time to listen to my reasons why things going on in the world should be of importance to you.

  • Local News- You should pay attention to local news because this is what is going on at your back door.
    • There were shots fired at my apartment complex last semester and I was informed by a tweet from a local news station. My apartment complex tried to keep the incident quiet and did not inform their residence that a shooting occurred in my back yard! Sometimes local news has EVERYTHING to do with you.
    • They recently lowered the speed limits in Columbia on parts of I-70. As many students return to Mizzou today, I will not be one bit surprised if people get speeding tickets because they were unaware of the change. The news station that I worked at talked about it multiple times on the news and all of our social media platforms. It’s as simple as reading a few tweets to save yourself from ignorance.
  • National News- National news stories are big for a reason. They directly affect a lot of people.
    • It’s important to watch, read or listen to national news every once in a while too because these are the biggest stories in the country. They are big for a reason and that reason is that they are something many people need to know or have interest in. I don’t know about you, but I would like to know about new laws Congress passes and big natural disasters and new technology that emerges and all of the stuff that you see on national news. It’s national news because it is BIG news.
  • International News
    • This is the area that I notice people my age paying the least attention to because they do not see how it relates to their everyday lives. However, it does.
    • There was recently a terror attack in Paris. If you do not know about it, I suggest reading about it for a few minutes because it is important. Obviously we do not live in Paris, so many people don’t understand why they should care. The reason is that attacks like this are happening all over the world. Nowhere is safe and anywhere could be next. Just because it did not happen to you does not mean that it couldn’t. Our military is all over the world fighting against organizations like ISIS to PROTECT you. If you you do not feel like anything like that could happen to you then just think about the Boston Bombing or 9/11. It CAN happen to anyone anywhere at anytime.
    • If for no other reason, watch the national news to find out what exactly our soldiers are fighting and risking their lives for. Find out about the grave injustices going on around the world in order to be more grateful for the opportunities that you have.