British Weather on the Continent
Updated: May 27, 2019
Having now lived here for nearly two weeks, I am fairly pleased that I have only been caught out in the rain once (so far). When I arrived on the train, I was confronted with a sign that read something along the lines of "it's not our fault that you chose to live in a country where it rains 200 times a year". Cheery.
This weekend I went to my first bar. It's called "bar des amis" and it had an awesome vibe. It has skis nailed to its walls and is full of old black and white photos. I couldn't tell you whether they were random photos or pictures of twentieth century celebrities as I was on my fourth drink of the evening by that point. The bar was packed and had a DJ; it was a Saturday night after all. On Sunday morning, due to a hangover, I decided to skip Zumba and take my housemate up on a walk in the Cinquantenaire Park (pictured above). It was utterly gorgeous, and we took arty photos of each other throwing leaves in the air. Very hipster.
I'm slowly learning about Belgium social conventions. I spent my first week kissing everyone I met on both cheeks, until I realized that there must have been a reason they looked more than a little surprised when I did this. Apparently in Belgium it's only one bise. The bilingual nature of the office is still taking a while to feel normal. In meetings everyone speaks in their native tongue, and yesterday morning I witnessed a presentation on discrimination in the workplace delivered in French accompanied by a Powerpoint Presentation written in Dutch. I feel rude when the Dutch members of the office make a special effort to address me in French, so I may teach myself some Dutch using Youtube tutorials - it's how I learned basic German before travelling to Berlin on my post-A-levels trip.
I still haven't been to any museums in Brussels, but then again, nor have I been to any in Oxford. It's a national holiday on Friday so I may go then. One thing I have done is get started on the networking scene. Last night I attended a talk titled 'Brexit: Implications for Scotland and its relationship with the EU' held at the Permanent Representation of Ireland to the European Union. The panel was really good: Joanna Cherry QC; MP for Edinburgh South West; Ian Duncan, MEP for Scotland Catherine Stihler, MEP for Scotland. Apart from the SNP member interrupting the Tory to make cheap digs at his party, it was rather well-argued and civilized. It helped that they were all remainers. I'm going to admit, it felt a little like being back in Oxford.
I've now signed up to various societies' events and talks. I have a meeting with the leader of the Oxford Belgium society on Thursday, and potentially a talk tomorrow. I'm starting to feel more at home in the city than when I arrived. It's a good feeling.
In other news, the toilet that was broken (thought I now realize I didn't in fact mention this in any previous post, which is bizarre because it was a fairly major inconvenience at the time) is now fixed. Our two ground level toilets are connected, which means that if one is blocked the other starts overflowing, and this happened twice this weekend. The toilets are now 'healthy' again, but one of them persists in making strange noises every so often. My housemates insist the place is haunted.