How has your life changed in college?

Youth, Society and Culture

Canals, neat houses and a medieval town center, which has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2000 - this is the impression that Bruges, located in northwest Belgium not far from the North Sea, makes on its visitors. Three to four million of them come every year to admire the beauty of the city. The reason why young Europeans are drawn to the city, however, is different: This is where the College of Europe is located, the ultimate cadre forge of the EU, which has been preparing young people for a European career since 1949. Christopher Glück, chairman of JEF Europe, also studied here. We talked to him about the selection process, the study atmosphere and the prospects for graduates.

Why did you choose to study for a master’s degree at the College of Europe?

What attracted me to the College of Europe is that it is more than just a very good university for European studies. At a time when normative approaches are out of fashion even in political science, the College of Europe is almost anachronistic in its claim to want to enable students to work for a better Europe - for “ever closer Union”. For me this aspect and the European life on campus, through which I learned more about Europe than in the seminars, was convincing.

How did you feel about the application process and the selection committee?

I found the respectful interaction with the applicants and the clear communication very pleasant. It was also important for me that the decision about the full scholarship, from which the majority of the students benefit, was made very quickly. The selection process is of course a bit special, especially the interview with the large selection committee in three languages, but also an exciting experience. I was amazed that relatively few questions were asked about my motivation and that a lot of traditional knowledge inquiries took place - somehow the selection committee still manages to select students year after year who also have the right spirit for a very socially intensive year.

What did you like best about college - what less?

I had one of the best years of my life at the College of Europe and think back to my time there with great pleasure and sometimes with a little sadness. The College of Europe succeeds more than other master’s programs in attracting students who have not only distinguished themselves academically, but who have campaigned and want to campaign for political progress in very different circumstances. These friendships are still dear to me today. In addition, there is the very enriching cultural experience of living very closely with people from around 30 countries for a year. And last but not least, it is of course a sometimes demanding but also exciting and varied academic program with professors from very different academic traditions. Unfortunately, not all courses were didactically up to date and I couldn't really get used to some of the very hierarchical, French-influenced traditions of the college. In the end, that didn't bother me in the long term.

How did you benefit from studying there?

My view of Europe has definitely changed and has perhaps become a little less of a German view of Europe. For me, above all, the view of Eastern Europe was new, where I could discover a new world again. As a political scientist, the insight into EU law and basic economic knowledge gained from studying at Natolin certainly helped me to quickly gain a foothold professionally. And of course it's nice to have good friends all over Europe.

How was your career after graduation?

A major advantage of college is that you come into contact with so many ideas and opportunities. I started at the UK Treasury immediately after college, negotiating EU dossiers for the UK government. I would never have had this idea myself, but a fellow student who is himself a British civil servant had drawn my attention to the job advertisement and briefed me to apply. After Brexit, I fled the island and have now worked as a speaker for a MEP for two years. The next year will be a dream come true for me and I will work full time for JEF. After that we will look further, but I will certainly remain loyal to Europe. In this context I should perhaps say that the "college mafia" is, thankfully, more of a myth. College graduates are usually motivated and open-minded people, but they are certainly not an elitist clique.

Who do you recommend studying at the CoE?

Anyone who burns for Europe, is hungry for new impressions and wants to get involved in a very intense year - in terms of time, social and academic standards - is exactly right and will have a great year. In general, I would rather not recommend the master's degree as preparation for a doctorate, the program is then too practice-oriented and cannot go into sufficient depth given the scope of the material.