Musings from a multi-lingual milieu #5

1) I went to visit the parliamentarium, which is the European Parliament’s Visitors’ Centre, in a bid to learn more about EU politics. I expected it to be quite boring, but by the end I was really interested. The EU has 28 member states and 24 official languages. After going through airport style security to get in, you walk through a “tunnel of voices” and hear all the official EU languages simultaneously. At the plenary sessions the rule is that everybody speaks in their native language (using a common language like English could create a political bias) which means a lot of translators need to be present! The politicians sit with their party and not with their country. I actually felt embarrassed that in a panoramic video simulation of a vote in the parliament, Nigel Farage was sat at the front arguing with everyone with a British flag standing on his desk. None of the other politicians present felt the need to have their country’s flag.

2) As I mentioned last time, my next challenge was to find the post office. I was expecting it to be a very complicated affair but in fact the whole process was very smooth. I was just thinking how well it had gone when I realised that, over a week later, nothing I posted has actually reached its destination yet…

3) …but a postcard from Costa Rica arrived before one from the Lake District so Royal Mail obviously have a lot to live up to.

4) I may have mentioned that the administration and paperwork on a year abroad is very frustrating at times. But – big announcement – 6 weeks after my arrival here I am now officially registered at both universities!

5) The fruity beers (or rather beers that don’t taste of beer) are the best.

6) Our residence has a big hall downstairs that anyone can hire. The other night we went to investigate what was happening there and ended up at Durga Puja – an annual Hindu festival in South Asia that celebrates worship of the Hindu goddess Durga. As Suneha was with us we were invited in and fed lots of spicy food and listened to the singing for a while. When in Brussels…

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7) Apart from some amazing bargains, the Midi market is also famous for its Moroccan pancakes: pancakes with white cheese, olives, grilled vegetables and honey. After a failed attempt to get them last time we were on a mission to try them this time and they were worth the wait. The minty tea that came with them was good too.

8) Three people on our course had a fancy dress birthday party last week, so we went as Greek Goddesses using old tablecloths found in the flea market. We definitely had the best outfits, even if I say so myself.

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9) A discovery almost worthy of its own blog… they have super-sized ricecakes here!

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10) Autumn is here and autumn is beautiful. I walked the other way out of the campus yesterday and stumbled upon this lake with the most beautiful autumn colours.

 

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