Arts

United Nations headquarters in Vienna. Photo: CC UK in Vienna.

Vienna: Visiting the UN and exploring international relations

When this Gee-Gee travels, only the finest greet him… and by finest I mean the finest cut out. While I may not have been greeted by the actual Secretary-General of the United Nations Ban ki-Moon while visiting Vienna a few weeks back, just a cardboard cut out, my colleagues and I did get the opportunity of a lifetime to visit and tour international institutions based out of Vienna.

Such institutions were the United Nations (UN) headquarters, the International Peace Institute, the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, the Diplomatic Academy, and the Austrian Foreign Ministry—to name a few. As a member of the University of Sussex International Relations Society, we hold an annual trip to a wide range of international cities that are host to international organizations.

Now I know what you’re thinking—“wait a second Anthony, aren’t you studying Law?” Yes, that is still the case, however my minor is in international relations, allowing me to go on this trip and hopefully work in the international relations industry when I graduate.

This trip even confirmed my choice of study, as I found out the majority of the academic backgrounds required for these jobs are law and political science—however, this doesn’t guarantee a job in the field. We did learn in one of our lectures on the trip that a benefit of the degree is that we don’t have to become diplomats or ambassadors to other countries if that’s not our passion, but rather we can work in almost any field. From HR to Atomic entry research, most fields need a relations manager or specialist on hand.

We began the tour by visiting the UN headquarters, where we had lectures from several agencies stationed in the building. My personal favourites were the Office of Disarmament Affairs and the International Atomic Energy Agency.

Following the UN was a stop at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, where we sat in the great room where the minister would hold banquets and formal meetings with other diplomats and visiting leaders. We then got a speech from a former ambassador for Austria, who shared his wisdom and experience with us before being called away. This stop was also one of the most interesting on the trip, as we got a special inside look on how countries appoint their ambassadors and inside knowledge on how to get jobs in the foreign ministries.

On another day of the trip, we visited the Diplomatic Academy, a prestigious school for those who wish to continue their studies in international relations at a Masters or Ph.D. level.

Overall, the trip was incredible, from sightseeing to eating delicious Austrian food, to gaining a wealth of knowledge from the organizations I had the opportunity to visit. In truth one of my favourite moments really was dinner time—having schnitzel every day and in every form offered is something I’ll never forget.

But besides the schnitzel, the opportunities I had on this trip   are in part due to the closeness of international hubs in Europe. Studying in Sussex has allowed me to explore the world I want to one day work—by simply taking a short flight.