Thursday, March 08, 2007

Yesterday in Brussels

I was on the train traveling to Brussels Zuid yesterday, watching the Belgian countryside pass me by and realised that I'm learning another country, another city, another way of being ... that I'm becoming comfortable within the new bubble of life I find myself living in.

I liked the feeling of it.

These days I understand some Dutch, a little Turkish, a little Italian, a little German and my mouth is now tasting the new taste of French ... with laughter of course. I am the woman who once was a girl in a class full of teenagers who knew more than me about French. I had to report on the Grand Prix for some reason ... I said it as I thought it read ... the whole class AND the teacher exploded with laughter.

Trauma is another way of improving your knowledge of other languages ... simply teaching you that all is not as it seems at first glance.

So I'm learning my way around Brussels and having fun doing it.
And the blossom was out on the tree-lined avenue yesterday ... so good to see blossom.

Coming home just before 10pm, I was carrying a massive sheet of solid cardboard and had a bag full of paper supplies ... needed to make suns and clouds, weather charts and beanstalks but of course.

Train traveling with large sheets of cardboard is a way of breaking the conversational ice of those who come into contact with you ... contact when the sheet of cardboard falls or blocks them into or out of a seat on the rather full train.

Oh yes ... I spoke to all kinds of people, even the small group of traveling American guys.

Meanwhile, this morning was a magical slightly misty morning, and the pigeon (bottom left corner of the photograph) was my sunrise companion.


Peter said...

You know Di, it's refreshing to read a post of a non-Dutch/non-French speaker who actually enjoys working in Brussels. Brussels used to be a Dutch speaking town, but has turned into a French enclave in Flanders. Most Dutch speaking Belgians resent what happened to Brussels- well, it's my capital too.

Imagine visiting Wellington and not being able to get by speaking English...

I'm glad that you really enjoy your new found job in Brussels, but for most of us, Brussels is a mismanaged disgrace.

woman wandering said...

Hi Peter, I'll be working for a Parisian living in Brussels ;)
Is that the key maybe?

I'm enjoying working the city out ... it was always too big and spread out for me but exploring the back streets and cafes, finding this little 2 day per week job ... it's all been fun so far.

Peter said...

I'm glad that you're enjoying Brussels - to be honest, it has more to offer than Antwerp, being a much larger town with a multitude of nationalities and a great past.

Guess that many Dutch-speaking Belgians resent the French-speaking arrogance of Brussels (Bilingual in Brussels often means French/English), but as a non-native you can just enjoy Brussels, without language issues.

Have fun!

woman wandering said...

Well actually ... bi-lingual as in French and English speaking?

I hadn't noticed the English, only the look of incomprehension over there.

Antwerpen is the place for English :) It's so much easier living here as an English speaking expat ... friends have found the French speaking inhabitants of Brussels quite 'challenging' and kind of relax into Antwerpen when they visit.

Peter said...

You made a valid point: most inhabitants of Brussels speak French (+90%), and that's about it. The ones that are bilingual often chose English as a second language. But like you noticed: don't count on it ;)

For an English speaking expat Antwerp may be much easier (most of us speak English), but there's a drawback: it prevents many expats from learning Dutch.

Obviously, it all depends on how long someone intends on living in this town.

woman wandering said...

I did giggle quietly, naughtily even ... when I read your comment on the multi-linguistic skills of Antwerpen's inhabitants: 'but there's a drawback: it prevents many expats from learning Dutch.
Obviously, it all depends on how long someone intends on living in this town.'

My problem is my humiliation level as I fail again and again with words that have dipthongs that tangle my tongue.

I don't know how long I'll be here, it could be quite a few years. If Dutch were simpler and I were more linguistically talented, if Gert didn't speak perfect English and Antwerpens weren't so generous with English ... I would have had that language by now ;)

chiefbiscuit said...

You sound so happy - that's good!