Eurodan in English

December 30, 2003

It's some day or other in between Christmas and New Year (where days of the week lose their meaning) and I'm doing what comes naturally - staying up late and looking at weird stuff on the web.

It's at times like this when those weird questions come back to haunt me, and I go on Google safari.

Today's question(s): will Belgium go the way of Czechoslovakia, and if it did, what would happen to Brussels? Would things degenerate into a "Yugoslavian situation"?

As always, someone has come up with an answer, and every possible scenario for a "life after Belgium" can be found here including a version in Esperanto, if you please.

There are, it seems, only a couple of things which have kept Belgium's major constituents - Flanders and Wallonia - from divorce (or worse), and probably the most effective of these has been Brussels. If Flanders were to declare independence, it would surely want to take Brussels with it. After all, the city sits geographically in Flanders and the Flemish parliament is here. It's also by far the largest city in Flanders (or Belgium for that matter), and has unmatched economic significance. The teensy snag about the whole thing is that at least 85% of Brussels' population counts French as their mother tongue, which would make the new Flemish Republic - with its French-speaking capital city - a rather odd affair.

There are enough competing scenarios and possible plots to make a fascinating novel. If anyone has heard of one - in French, Dutch or English - I'd be delighted to hear of it!

Posted by Eurodan at 12:19 AM | Comments (2)

December 25, 2003

Merry Christmas everyone!

How has it been for you?

I took Bart home with me this year, which has been a delightful experience. Not only do I get the pleasure of showing him around my home village and introducing him to the family, but I do find that families behave themselves so much better when you have a guest for Christmas, don't you?

And as for presents, it seems to have been the year of the DVD player. No fewer than three have changed hands this yuletide in our family, and I'm lucky enough to have received one which even plays my temperamental Swedish DVD. That's Eurovision, not anything more flesh coloured, in case you were wondering. Some people!

Posted by Eurodan at 7:05 PM | Comments (2)

December 17, 2003

Resisting the urge to indulge in excessive navel-gazing, I've been wondering about why I've not been quite so talkative here of late, and I think I've finally found the answer.

It's not just about volume of work, although that plays its part. The volume of information which you have to filter each day in order to prepare meetings, work on your languages, and organise your life is pretty intense, and would be enough to tire even the most prolific blogger.

But I think the reason is more fundamental than that. When I started the blog back in May, the end of my interpreting course was in sight, and pretty quickly I emerged from the thickets of preparing for the exams into a kind of clearing, or a plateau, from where I was able to enjoy the summer and watch as the mountainous terrain of the Commission's insertion scheme, to be climbed in the autumn, slowly hoved into view.

And of course, while I was taking life at a more leisurely pace I was more than able and willing to pass on such nuggets of wisdom as my favourite European snack products, tips on who might win the Eurovision Song Contest, and such like.

But now I'm back on the move again, as it were; hiking through this new, rather challenging landscape. It's sometimes rather craggy, with sheer drops and hidden crevices, but the view is very fine. And it looks like a brief respite for Christmas is also just around the corner. So thank heavens for that.

Posted by Eurodan at 12:44 PM | Comments (2)

December 8, 2003

The thing about the Belgians is that they've got their priorities right. Consequently life here can be extremely cosy, as I hope the next two images will go some way to prove. The first picture is a Saturday afternoon from a couple of weeks ago. Bart's friends Cindy and Peter came over for the day, and here we are preparing lunch together. Signs that we're in Belgium: the bottles on the table and the pralines. As I said, priorities...

bartliving.jpg

And soon it was time for a post-prandial walk, so off we went to the Cinquantenaire, a kind of cross between the Arc de Triomphe and the Brandenburg Gate built to celebrate the country's fiftieth birthday. The view from the top is very fine - and it was a lovely late autumn day. We took the lift, by the way.

cinquant.jpg

Posted by Eurodan at 8:36 AM | Comments (1)

December 1, 2003

Goodness me! Advent already. Who stepped on the accelerator pedal?

In less than three weeks I'll have finished work for Christmas, and I'm sure I'll be ready for it. There's also a spate of birthday parties coming up (aside from the big JC) alongside the usual crop of Christmas bashes. Bart's birthday is next week, and then fellow ex-Bradfordian Alison turns 30 shortly afterwards. Then the English booth have their annual celebration, and to top it all, a small group of fellow insertees are planning a bit of an Xmas travel-fest, seemingly trying to sample the festivals in just about every Nordic city of any size.

This would all be exhausting enough (think of the clothes needed - you try finding a party outfit that still looks good over thermal underwear), but there *is* also the little matter of work. And bloody terrifying it (still) is at times.

At the end of this 100 day period, aside from the question of whether the Commission will have me, I'm increasing coming to realise that I'll have to be sure in my own mind that I can handle the stress. It's a bit like surfing I suppose (not that I've ever done it). Most of the time it's enormous fun and extremely exciting, but then every now and then it gets rather too exciting - when the subject and/or the speaker wave the meaning of what they want to say in front of you but don't quite let you grasp it and present it to your audience.

Anyway, they all say it gets easier. After a couple of years...

Posted by Eurodan at 8:16 PM | Comments (5)

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