Published: 07 December 2010
OK, maybe I lied. I don't think I am going to shut up about this trip for a long time!
When I arrived on Friday I felt like I had been totally thrown in at the deep end. I had only had a few weeks of radio training and was quickly intimidated by the considerable experience of the other finalists (not to mention the number of languages they speak).
But Ines quickly showed us Belgian hospitality and led us to sample some Belgian beer. I knew then it was going to be great as we discussed different customs and laughed about our disastrous journeys across Europe through the snow.
We were put up in absolute luxury; perhaps a paradox as "young reporters against poverty" but I was not complaining about the double bed, bathtub and plasma screen, particularly after living in student halls! The best bit was how friendly and accommodating the staff were, and unfailingly interested in our ideas.
The first day was a blur as we were briefed on everything from using the reporting platform to world peace! There was plenty of time to relax as we enjoyed a three course meal and wine with our new friends from all over the world. I found the radio training especially valuable, and Cecile Veyrie was both calm and understanding about my nerves in trying a new reporting medium!
In the evening we were privileged to have some very special guests at dinner, and despite a near disaster finding the place, the food and laughter was soon flowing. I was lucky to be sat opposite Marie Laura and had one of the most intellectual discussions of my life about everything 'journalism'!
Sunday I was able to go to the Royal Museum for Central Africa, and got really excited about the impending EDDs as I walked past African tribal masks and stuffed animals. We got back just in time for a quick wander through the Christmassy Grand Place before we attended a press conference with Catherine Ray. She was really grilled by the young reporters, and it was a fascinating debate to listen to. We got a little lost walking back but luckily Valentina was able to direct us to a good kebab shop!
The EDDs have been intense, mind-blowing and overwhelming, in equal doses. I decided to pursue the topic of fake medicine so was able to use the first day to orientate myself, attending conferences on health and interviewing representatives from the Non-Communicable Diseases Alliance. I managed to secure interviews with the Fundacion Chirac, Medecins Sans Frontieres, political figures and the prize winner of the Africa category Lorenzo Natali award, amongst others.
One highlight for me was the Lorenzo Natali prize ceremeony, which deeply moved and inspired me. The journalists there reminded me why I want to do this career! I was also lucky to attend the prizewinners dinner after meeting the BBC World Service winners, who were delighted to see another Londoner in Brussels!
The days have been an absolute dream come true for me and I would like to thank everyone who has made them so fabulous - the young reporters and all the staff.
I have learnt so much about journalism, and my confidence has grown as well as my belief that journalism is my dream job.