Eurodan in English

October 31, 2003

I know it's been days since I last wrote. I'm sorry - I'll try harder! It's just that I'm trying to get used to my days being full to bursting. Not that I'm complaining, you understand. Oh no, far from it.

So what have I seen this week? All kinds of things. Meetings with chairmen who change languages mid-sentence; mounted police on patrol clip-clopping past the flat sporting trumpets (!) - well I suppose you can't mount sirens and blue flashing lights on horses.

And I've been meeting the locals. Well, one particularly delightful local actually. Flemish is such a *lovely* language. *sigh* ;-)

Posted by Eurodan at 10:54 PM | Comments (2)

October 25, 2003

Well, this evening we have a guest with us here at the blog - my best mate from Bradford, Leah is staying with me for a while, having just moved to Brussels to seek her linguistic fortune.

She certainly seems to have a lucky touch. Barely an hour after she had arrived, I opened my email and there was a message from those lovely people over at the German low-cost airline for whom I've been working for the last few months, telling me that they've decided to thank me for my work with two free tickets to anywhere on their route network including a hotel voucher!

Needless to say, we went straight to their website and whittled down the destinations to a shortlist, which included Lisbon, Budapest and Barcelona. And after much deliberation, Barcelona was found to have the best flight times for a whistlestop tour, and neither of us had been there. And yes, we're feeling rather pleased with ourselves, thank you.

And Leah passes on her love to everyone - she's feeling too shy to comment directly.

Posted by Eurodan at 10:32 PM | Comments (5)

October 20, 2003

It's the end of the beginning, if you know what I mean. I'm starting to actually take some time to enjoy life, rather than just concentrating on setting up bank accounts, voicemail, and feeling petrified about work.

And gradually it's starting to dawn what a rewarding place this is for me to live. Even the TV reminds me how fortunate I am to have left the UK.

Tonight, for instance, I watched the weekly Eurovision Song Contest magazine programme on Dutch TV Op weg naar het Songfestival. Along with the interviews with previous performers, and a weekly focus on a particular year, there's also the 'Fan of the Week' slot, where we're invited into the home of a devoted Eurovision fan. Needless to say, they're often gay, but as this is Nederland 2 and not ITV 2, no great feature is made of this - the partner is presented in a completely matter-of-fact way, whether gay or straight.

It's nice to live somewhere where Eurovision fans aren't saddos good for a chortle on TV Hell and where a life partner isn't presented either as a 'gay lover' or 'friend'.

I've also been going out - there's this really great place on Sunday afternoon/evenings called Plančte Chocolat - like gay clubs used to be about fifteen years ago (ie before drugs made them all boring). It opens late afternoon and there's a mix of music from pop to ballroom - and a real mix of people too, from trendy to retired. I'm probably making it sound like some sort of terrible community centre, but it's not at all - it's got buckets of style. This is Brussels, after all!

Matthias, my friend from Cologne, took the train back on Saturday, so I wasn't able to take him, but after seeing him off onto the gorgeous, super-high-speed German ICE train back to Cologne (with wood-panelled interiors!) I was suddenly reminded of the perfect geographical location of this place. Just a train hop from Cologne, London and Paris, and that I'm looking forward to a weekend in Cologne in a couple of weeks.

Anyway, suffice to say that the dust is starting to settle, and the contours of my life are beginning to take shape. And so far, it's fun.

Posted by Eurodan at 10:15 PM | Comments (3)

October 15, 2003

Recording the answerphone message on one's mobile is normally a (relatively) simple and painless procedure. You say your stuff, inwardly wince as you hear it played back to you, seethe at the rather long-winded voice prompts, and that's that.

But now I live in Brussels it's a bit more of a minefield. After all, what languages should I use, and in what order?

My usual protocol when living outside of the UK is that the first message should be in the language of the place I'm living in (if I speak it) followed by English. Well Brussels is officially bilingual, and so (ever supportive of the underdog) my usual principles would dictate Flemish first, then French, then English. And that's what I've done.

It's a bit problematic, though, for the following reasons:-

1) 2 languages is acceptable - 3 starts to sound like showing off, and after all, everybody understands the text of an answerphone greeting - it could be in Ruritanian, as long as there's a voice you recognise followed by a beep.

2) The two languages that most of my callers currently have as their mother tongue, English and German, come off rather poorly in this arrangement.

But I can't really come up with an acceptable alternative. French without Flemish would be against my principles - the Flemings are forgotten often enough in Brussels, and I might meet a perfectly lovely one next week, who I'd just as soon not disappoint with a Francocentric voicemail mesage. Flemish without French would just be stupid in Brussels, which is 85 percent Francophone. And English on its own smacks of wilfully snubbing the country I have, after all, chosen to live in.

So there we are. Three languages it has to remain, I'm afraid.

Posted by Eurodan at 7:41 PM | Comments (10)

October 12, 2003

It really is a lot of fun to live here, you know. Not only is Brussels a bilingual city in the middle of a trilingual country, but it also has representatives here from every European country - new and old, not to mention the crowds of officials from the EU, NATO and countless international organisations.

If all of that wasn't enough of a mixture, there are also large immigrant communities from north Africa and also the Congo (which Belgium once claimed to own in rather less enlightened times), and many other groups beside.

So perhaps that goes some way to explain what I was doing last night drinking Caipirinhas and dancing to Brazilian pop music in a bar in which all the signs were in Portuguese, with a Spanish assistant to an Italian MEP.

As I said, it really is a lot of fun to live here...

Posted by Eurodan at 9:47 PM | Comments (1)

October 6, 2003

First day at work - information overload - arriving home feeling tired and hungry (but happy) - Brussels rainy as ever - looking forward to getting stuck into some interpreting - a bit scared of that idea as well - feeling a bit too busy to write a proper entry - normal service hopefully resumed soon...

But before I forget - there was the extra nice moment of getting my security pass with mugshot, European flag and the word 'interpreter' on it. It's the little things in life, sometimes...

Posted by Eurodan at 8:31 PM | Comments (8)

October 2, 2003

Hello again!

Since I last wrote I've moved. My Dad and I packed my computer, clothes and a few books in the car and took the ferry to Zeebrugge on Tuesday night. After a very pleasant crossing and a rather sleepless night (for me - too excited I suppose) we arrived at the flat on Wednesday morning, and now everything is plugged in and working, so to speak.

I must say that so far I'm very much enjoying my new life, although I haven't actually started working yet, so maybe that's got something to do with it. By rights I should have masses to tell you, but nothing has really distilled in my brain yet - it seems that when you move house, you put your brain into boxes as well as everything else, and it's still unpacking itself, it would seem.

Posted by Eurodan at 10:45 PM | Comments (3)

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