11 novembre 2008

Waffles, chocolate, and Manneken Pis...


It has been quite a few months since I last wrote on this blog. In fact, I have been very much affected by the loss of my grandmother in the beginning of September. Some questions obsessed my mind for quite a long period of time, but for now, I realized that it is not because my grandmother left this world, that she disappeared from my mind and my heart. I have never been a very pious man, though I like to think that she might have surely found another place to live in perfect harmony... Whether she be the air I breath in the morning, the sun I feel on my skin, or the rain which falls on the roof made of tin... Shortly after her funerals, I encountered much problems to move in to Brussels, but I finally did it. I am a student in a famous college located just next to the European Parliament, right in the middle of a very modern neighborhood of the Belgian capital. For the first time ever, I enjoy learning languages because I have very different courses from Law to Psychology, including Economics and other ones. But, in fact, Belgium is not that far from France, and one can easily feel that the French influence is very high. You can buy Le Petit Marseillais shower gel, have the daily edition of Le Monde at seven o'clock in almost all press shops, drink Evian water, and eat Bonne Maman jam... The very difference of Belgium is the mentality of people, which is much more complicated to understand than the Swedish one, for example, that I previously experienced...




Most of French shops have extended their influence beyond the border except a few ones, such as Ladurée which macaroons I miss so much... Curiously, it exists a strong francophobia among Belgian people. France is regarded as an arrogant country, mostly because Carrefour owns Belgian supermarkets, GDF has just bought Belgian energy providers, and of course BNP Paribas saved Fortis from bankrupt because of the financial crisis. I just wonder what would Belgium do if France was to stop all business with this country ? Even one of my teacher despised the fact that the French State and religious authorities are separated for more than 100 years : "Oh yes these stories of Republic... and laïcité... so boring". And she seemed to think that religion was a good purveyor of moral values and so on. I would like to contrast this idea, since a secular society does not involve that people are all idiots. Among all, I look at how Belgian people act everyday, and I understand why Brussels streets are so dirty. It is totally "normal" to see people threw plastic bottles, cans, newspapers, tickets, on the pavement, with absolutely no qualms. Almost nobody does the effort of waste sorting. Walking 400 meters to shop groceries is considered to be unsane for cars exist, drinking Coke from 25 centiliter bottle is the norm... Ecology and preservation of natural ressources are concepts they do not know. On this point of view, Belgium is much like the United States, perhaps even worse !



Brussels also offers a weird perspective when it comes to architecture. The very old stands near the very new... Complete neighborhoods have been demolished to erect all new buildings made of concrete and glass. Fortunately, politicians never really touched the old city and the famous Grand Place. This large and irregular square has something particular which gives it its uniqueness. It offers a perspective on the rich Belgian Middle Ages period, and houses made of bricks make one easily remember the Dutch capital's architecture style. In the same way, I wish I could visit very soon three major Belgian cities : Antwerp, Bruges, and Ghent. Indeed, I miss the trips I was doing almost every month while I was an exchange student in Sweden. My trip in Lappland keeps on being the best one I ever did, and Björkliden offered the best landscape I have ever seen, with an almost untouched and preserved nature... Moreover, I might have to spend the first semester of next academic year in another country, which both interests me and not, since I woud like to set up in a place for some years. Discovering another country and another culture would also be a complete benefit on my curriculum vitae. Let's say that we will see what happens...