• Dilli

A European's Life for Me!

The internship is coming along. I may even have the opportunity to meet refugees and participate in meetings from next week onward. Yesterday I was meant to go to an event called 'Syrian Day', which was essentially an event celebrating Syrians and attempting to make them feel welcome in Brussels. Unfortunately it was about 4k away with no public transport options - either that or Google Maps isn't functioning and I need a new phone. I would have walked, but I only realised the distance after I had already done a 7k run that morning. International Migration Day is coming up on 18 December, so I'm sure there will be plenty of events I can attend around that.

I've just got back from a short visit to Atomium, a bizarre and quite futuristic structure that is famous among the residents of Brussels. It has a museum, but I figured there probably wasn't much worth looking at. I heard the lift was the fastest of its kind (when it was built in 1958 that is).

Next to the structure there's a place called 'Mini Europe', but unfortunately it was shut. It's the trouble with trying to go places on a Sunday evening. One thing I've noticed about Brussels is that everything is shut at the weekend. I heard that Brussels is one of the most expensive places to stay in for working days, and I'm not surprised. It's a European hub during the week and the Christmas market (the one time I've been so far) is absolutely packed. But on Saturdays and Sundays you really struggle to find anywhere that opens.

As I am writing this I have to keep editing and correcting as I go because at work I use an AZERTY keyboard rather than the QWERTY keyboard that is pretty much standard in the anglophone world. It's very annoying. As my step-brother would say: first world problems. Another similarly annoying, but equally privileged issue: from all the zumba, and my new tactic of bringing my ipod to work with me, I now have 'Side to Side' by Ariana someone and 'Cheap Thrills' by Sia stuck in my head. They play in alternation. It's made me realise that modern popular songs are far less sophisticated than they used to be. Good thing I have five Beatles albums on there too.

Last week end I attended the Wallonie-Brussels parliament federation open doors day. It was nice to wander around and get a feel for the place. There were various events on, but the signposting wasn't the clearest thing ever created... I ended up going home after giving myself a mini tour and enjoying the modern artwork displayed on the walls. Besides, I was by this point, after a lunch consisting of a tofu wrap and a soya milk chai latte, in a lot of pain and coming to terms with the fact that I probably can't consume soya. That's the hipster lifestyle out of the window. I'll have to go back to drinking edgy herbal tea.

This Tuesday I went to my housemate's concert at the Saint Michel Cathedral in central Brussels. She sings in the Brussels Chamber Choir and they are really rather good! The concert was in all four languages of Belgium: Wallon, French, Dutch, and German. When I first saw Wallon written in the program I had no idea what language it could be. It looks a little bit like Patois, what with all the accents and apostrophes, so kind of French but as if it had been written with a poorly manufactured pen that spurted ink everywhere. Before this week I had never heard Stille Nacht performed live, and it was utterly beautiful. Silent Night is one of my favourite Christmas songs, but in the original German it is something else. I bought a CD recording for my mum for Christmas (I hope she now doesn't actually read this post).

On Friday night I went to another conference, though this one was led by the European Green Party and it was about rebuilding relations in the EU. there were some good speakers, each presenting their projects that contribute to social and cultural development. The best event was the talk by Raphaël Glucksmann. He's quite a famous French writer and film director, at least, a fair few girls clutching books ran up to him after the talk to get signatures. I similarly thought I'd get a few words in, though this turned into a long political debate over a cigarette and him complimenting my "excellent French". Though I do make a show of pretending to be modest and therefore reject any compliment coming my way, I was secretly very pleased. Too bad he's married.

Since I last wrote another development has occurred: I now have a job secured for the new year! A paid job, that is. Until now I had an unpaid internship teaching in Paris, but I soon realised that this was vastly too optimistic and Paris would be far too expensive to afford on just my student loan and Erasmus grant. I am now going to be teaching professional English to employees of a technical company in Bordeaux that makes batteries for a whole range of industries. I'm thoroughly looking forward to it. I just need to get the paperwork sorted with Oxford.

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