Welp, I might have been a little off with my counting of how many weeks I am abroad. To make it appear intentional, this week is a “wrap-up.”
When I think back to Brussels I will most likely have vivid memories of the bipolar rainy weather, the constant cloud of cigarette smoke and how I have greatly increased my agility through morning runs by dodging potholes and dog poop on the streets.
I will also however recall the butter and flakiness of freshly baked chocolate croissants cut by the bitterness of an espresso, and the rush of life I felt when wandering through the open air markets.
People fully embrace their backgrounds and culture here, it is their main identity. They are proud and take great care in what is theirs, whether it be football or cheese.
An observation that I have made while living here is how unpretentious Brussels is for its size and power. It seems as if people from all over the world were picked up and placed in this cluster and their responses were to glance at one another, shrug and keep moving. People don’t pretend to completely understand others but merely learn from a conversation (often in a non-native language) and take that nugget of information with them. It is a hard thing to put into words but I see it and feel it.
At times, the U.S. feels like a giant high school with the reality shows, idolized celebrities and trends. Everybody is on the band wagon and then everybody is off. All you hear on the radio is the top three songs and everyone has all seen this new viral video and, “OMG have you not seen this yet? Where have you beeeeen?!”
I’m not saying there are not traces of that here and maybe I would feel it more the longer I stayed, but it is different. There isn’t a common band wagon (except for maybe football) it is just too complex, so it doesn’t matter if you aren’t on it.
If I had to sum it all up I would say that Brussels is gritty. It is a modge-podge of cultures and the people aren’t thirsting for approval and acceptance into a popular clique. For that, I love Brussels. For the poopy streets, I don’t.
Leaving here I will take with me some clippings and a report for my portfolio, extremely limited French, shoes with gaping holes in the soles and a duffel full of chocolate– all evidence of a great summer, if I do say so myself.