With all the travelling I’ve been doing it’s easy to get caught up in what I love about other cities I’ve been fortunate enough to visit. However, it’s important not to forget how much I love and how lucky I am to be here in Brussels! Going away makes me appreciate it more, if I’m being honest (insert you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone/thousands of other song lyrics here).
The bruxellois are so nice. People here are truly polite and caring, everybody thanks everybody and makes sure to be pleasant. It’s wonderful. As someone learning their second language here, it’s even better. It’s a little funny how out of their way people will go to be polite– for example: languages. Because there are two official languages, and because there are thousands and thousands of people here from all over Europe who speak other languages, communication can be…complex. However, people will try and figure out what language you speak (or which language is your best) and try to accommodate it. When I speak French, often times people will respond back in English after hearing my accent (or grammatical errors, who knows). This was discouraging at first but honestly it’s because people are so kind they don’t want us to struggle! And I hear this happen all around me every day. When Belgians are speaking, they’ll try to guess if the other person is a Francophone or a Dutch-speaker and adapt. It’s pretty remarkable to see coming from a country where English is king (and the only king).
Brussels is a whole mashup of a million different cultures. This is evident in everything from a bunch of random building styles to languages spoken. Something we’ve learned a lot about in our culture class is how different the two major language-speaking communities are. Brussels is stuck in the middle, and this means that both sides are at play, as well as hundreds of other cultures brought in by immigrants from all over the world. It’s fascinating to be a part of. In a country divided by a lot of things, it truly feels like people are proud to be from Brussels (or Wallonia, or Flanders–here regional identity seems to be stronger than national). T
Something I’ve noticed a lot in other European cities I’ve been to as well as Brussels is the high regard for the arts. Arts are valued and museums, theaters, and street art are abundant. Everyone seems to be cultured in this aspect. I love that a lot of things that are considered ‘dying’ in the US– newspapers, live theater, true art cinema, etc– are still so supported here.
I feel like Brussels is often overlooked, by Americans and other places around the world alike. I get asked a lot by people here why I chose Brussels. To be completely honest, I wanted to study French outside of France….pretty shallow reasoning but I feel like I made a great choice. If any of you get the chance to come visit this beautiful city, DO IT!