Diego Badell sends news from his STSM in Leuven

Moving from Spain to Belgium in the middle of a pandemic to carry out my STSM stay at KU Leuven was not difficult at all. Although there is no common European framework when it comes to COVID-19 travel criteria, which shows how the Schengen crisis of 2015 is still affecting the EU and its citizens, settling down was a smooth process. This was mainly due to two reasons. First, the extremely well equipped and human team at KU Leuven, including the administration office as well as my reference person here, Dr. Katja Biendenkopf. They made sure that everything was still happening as scheduled, offering always their help in case of any unexpected event. Secondly, the weather. It sounds like a cliché, but it is not. Since my arrival, the sunny and warm weather in Brussels has been the rule and not the exception. Such a depressing feeling of moving from a Mediterranean city to a continental city has not occurred yet. But they have told me that this will change in the upcoming months, but at the end it is what it is. Finally, the aim of this stage is to conduct elite interviews as well as finalizing my PhD thesis on EU foreign policy and norm contestation. Concerning the last part, so far so good.