22 April 2009
Bruxelles pour la deuxième fois
Being in Brussels again was a comforting experience because a lot of things were already familiar to me. I was able to spend a lot of time with Jon and all of the Mizzou students on the Brussels program. This time, though, I was more interested in the relaxation opportunities rather than tourism. The spring buds were blooming all over the city and the parks were calling my name. Playing Frisbee with friends and sitting around with the grass in-between my toes was the perfect way to start my vacation.
I was also able to fully enjoy the culture of drinking in Belgium. I'm not saying I was intoxicated, but I was appreciating the quality of Belgian beer rather than the quantity. There is a certain richness and unique taste of beer that has hundreds of years of history behind the brewing methods by Trapist Monks. Drinking high quality beer is one of the (few) things that is culturally 'Belgian' other than Frites and soccer that I observed.
My time in Brussels, however, wasn't all play. I took the opportunity to further my research on the subject of Belgian national identity for a paper at school. I arranged an interview with a journalist who lives in Brussels. Gareth was a great source as he is knowledgeable about the politics of the EU and the relations between the Flemish and Walloon regions. I left the interview with a strange desire to start writing the paper right away. It was fantastic feeling to be able to do some first-hand research on a subject that would otherwise be so foreign to me. In addition to the interview, I made sure to visit the two regions while I was in Belgian to feel as though I fully researched and observed for myself the places that make up the Belgian identity.