First day of work! I showed up just on time, after figuring out the (fairly intuitive) train system. After a ten minute administrative setup, it was into the first all hands meeting and piles of reading… including a textbook written by my supervisor, on the economics of biodiversity. It was GREAT. No seriously. I totally nerded out. I’m looking into payments for ecosystem services and reform of harmful subsidies to start. I love the people I’m working with, the subject, the ability to jump into side projects…which I did. Islands of Europe! (How many do you think there are? No cheating.) I’m excited to be contributing so soon.
We took a quick walk to the supermarket for lunch – I recognized almost nothing in the store. They had Ben & Jerry’s though, which cracked me up. Half baked and chunky monkey! Tomorrow I’m going to walk in the other direction and pick up a new phone, I think I can get one for 20-30 euros at Media Markt.
I haven’t had to use my French too much, except when ordering food and when my luggage showed up at work. The airport worker who dropped it off didn’t speak a word of English, which I haven’t had to deal with yet, and everytime I struggled to understand his French, he giggled at himself and said “Aaahhh Englishh!!!” It was endearing, haha. I think he asked if I’d tried the beer yet. (I haven’t.)
Another minor struggle I’ve had is with the clothes! I can’t even believe how well dressed everyone is, always. Never mind sweatpants and sneakers, I hardly even see jeans on the girls! Granted I’ve been living right across from the Parliament, you don’t really see jeans on the Financial District in Boston either, but man. I’m in trouble. I brought two skirts and three dresses, but they’re almost all really relaxed and flowy, while the dresses here are mostly structured and very Ann Taylor (but times 100 on the fashion score). I found an H&M nearby (scratch that, there’s three on one street), but I’ve been warned their sizes and prices are way different than in the US. We’ll see what happens!
One thing I didn’t mention about my trip to Garde du Midi yesterday was the little old lady who started yelling at someone these horrendous things in French – turns out they were trying to swipe her money. I’d been warned about that too. What I hadn’t been warned about was the elderly man who would hand truck a homemade karaoke machine onto the metro and start singing ‘que sera sera’ to everyone, just for kicks. He had to stand right next to me. I almost laughed out loud but he was so earnest.
After work the weather was spectacularly beautiful, so I dropped my bags and grabbed my camera to explore le Parc Leopold. Little parks like this dot Brussels all over, and they’re full of people picnicking, walking dogs, and, well, making out when it’s not raining, haha. The mix of glass Parliament buildings and the dense trees and gardens made for some beautiful pictures. I also ordered a coffee-flavored gelato from la Place Jourdan on the other side of the park. Success!
Tomorrow I’m moving to my new apartment. I have a garden, AND a washer/dryer! Miracle of miracles.