Study Tour

France Study Tour (25 May - 23 June 2019)

This 4-week study tour in France and Belgium was designed for undergraduate students with a keen interest in the politics, culture, history and society of Western and Francophone Europe. Split between three weeks in Paris and Reims (France) and one week in Brussels (Belgium), the tour aimed to introduce students to the international and domestic affairs of the European Union (EU) as well as one of its key member states, France. Daily field visits, guided museum tours, seminars and tailored lectures were organized to provide students with a better understanding of the underlying forces and structures that have shaped contemporary French and European society, culture, politics, international diplomacy and economy. Students spent 18 days in Paris to focus on, and learn about, the history, society, culture and modern politics of France. Guided visits of key historical sites (Château de Versailles, Tomb of Napoleon, French Military History Museum, Shoah Memorial, Pere Lachaise Cemetery and Palais du Louvre), a workshop of the National Archives of France (where royal parchments from the 13th century were shown to students) and endless walking tours in downtown Paris introduced students to the century-old history of the country. Students also discovered a key French political assembly (Conseil Economique, Social et Environnemental), enjoyed a half-day seminar at the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), and further explored European art masterpieces in various exhibitions (including impressionist paintings at Musée d’Orsay). A 3-day fieldtrip to the city of Reims, at the heart of the Champagne region in North-eastern France, followed. The city of Reims is also intimately linked to France’s monarchical history as the traditional site for the coronation of its kings between 1027 and 1825 and is surrounded with memorials from the First and Second World Wars. Our group also visited the Taittinger Champagne headquarters and cellars, and two major university campuses – NEOMA Business School and Sciences Po Reims (located in a 17th century former Jesuit Convent), both highly regarded institutions with which City University of Hong Kong has established partnerships. In Brussels for the last week, the study tour considered the milestones of postwar European integration and the EU’s most recent challenges from Brexit to the migration crisis. EU officials and policy practitioners offered four tailored presentations at the European Commission and the Council of the European Union. Students also learned about refugee and asylum issues at the Belgian Office for the Commissioner for Refugees and Asylum Seekers (CGRA) and the mounting challenges of climate change during a workshop held at an international NGO lobbying various EU institutions on the matter (Climate Action Network Europe).