Brussels – A Cultural Potpourri

During this holiday season, I had the pleasure of going home again. To those of you who are following this blog on a regular basis, you might know that ‘home’ for me is quite an interesting term. Usually, I use it for Brussels, the town where I grew up in and where I still feel very attached to.

For the first time in a while, I noticed something new when listening to the people in the streets, restaurants and other locations where crowds meet: even more languages than ever before. More worrying for me: I was not even able to recognize some of them, hence would not be able to say from which country the people speaking them would come from.

Since I lived there, many things have indeed changed in Europe’s capital. Not only have the member states passed from 12 at the time to 28 today which means a huge organization when it comes to elections; We now also have a single currency in 18 member states meaning that you don’t need to change money anymore when crossing the border… I still remember the times and even the exchange rates between the countries when this was not the case: what a complicated undertaking! I also remember having to show passports at borders and the need to explain what my different grades were worth in various countries to have the right to study there as no credit system existed at the time…. Wow, either I am getting old or things change fast ;-)

What also struck me over the holidays was the fact that all these different people with different habits, worldviews, behaviors are living and working together in one city, bringing their own traditions, norms and values with them. What a colorful potpourri of people and truly something making the heart of a European Intercultural Chameleon like me beat faster. How enriching those encounters are but how full of problems and misunderstandings they can be if not lived and accepted with patience and a non-judging and open attitude.

2014 begins in the heart of Europe for me and who knows where my intercultural and mindful path will lead me this year. Maybe to you! Don’t hesitate to contact me if your teams are not working well together or you need to understand what motivates people from a different culture to become more efficient. My up-bringing and years of experience coupled with various languages and other skills will surely be able to bring you further on your path. Looking very much forward to it!

Jenny

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