For those living, working and jogging in the realm of European public affairs, it is well known how Eurobubblers basically create their own dimension and try to differentiate themselves from the outer world (the actual Bruxellois). Everyone here in BXL is super qualified with Masters Degrees or PhDs, everyone speaks 5-6 languages (apart from the Brits and the French) and everyone has a fairly similar background around politics, economics and law etc…The profile that Lisa displays in one the episode of the Eurobubble actually sums it up quite nicely: ” Half German, half French. Born in Indonesia. Politics at Sciences Po, LSE Master, internship at the European Commission and 1 year in Bruges”

Brussels is a place where people don’t go to to live. People go to Brussels to work. People from all over Europe, and the rest of the world, would move to London, Paris, Barcelona or Rome because these are awesome places to be in and expats in this cities would do whatever job in order to stay there.

Brussels is exactly the opposite. People, especially young people, don’t move to the Belgian capital because they are in love with Art Nouveau and  mussels with fries. They move to Brussels because of work and almost always their work is related to European affairs. You go out for a beer and end up talking about the euro crisis. You go for a jog in the park and meet policy-makers talking about treaty reforms. You go play football in Parc du Cinquentanaire and you meet EC stagiares. See what happens for instance when you go to Place du Luxembourg

But how do the Bruxellois perceive this? Is Brussels’ autoctonous population affected by the bubble?

It all got  clear to me a few days ago. It was a EU Council day and as we all know that means that rond point Schuman is closed, there’s police everywhere and hundreds of journalists show off their badges on their way in. On the way from Rue Archimede to Rue de la Loi, I met a buddy from the gym who works for STIB (apparently all those going to my dodgy, 30€-per-month/garage/gym work either for Brussels public transports or in the security business) and I ask him “Ca va mec? Qu’est qui se passe là? He replies with the most poetic and enlightening sentence of all. The set of words that expresses in a nutshell what all the EU hustle and bustle means for the real Bruxellois “J’sais pas. Il y a un truc européen” which can be translated into “There’s a European thingy going on”.

The truc européen includes all events that would amaze typical Eurobubblers like to approval of the new EU budget or the proposal for a directive, which doesn’t really affect the mood of “normal people.” Anything with the EC/EU labels all goes in to this big pot in the imagination of these aliens that we call Bruxellois.

I think though that the let’s-build-a-wall-around-us phase that Eurobubblers have been creating is bound to fade away. Getting to know locals and what locals think of us is very valuable in order not to get stuck in a limbo of no identity.

Wait, did you say euro-something? No, I said truc européen.


3 thoughts on “Il y a… un “truc” européen

  1. I am not sure it’s the Eurobubblers having created a wall. I also don’t get the expression “normal people” compared to … what make another ensemble of people ‘ab-normal’? I have lived, mainly after graduation, in some countries, the last year in the Netherlands and with a non eurobubble job. I do not in the frame ‘mixed nationalities parents with international jobs, top universities, etc’. I come from a family very rooted in my home island. The idea of a conscient elitarian attitude to bring a wall is an akward idea. Often it’s locals who are simply NOT INTERESTED to make new friendships among expats. Especially when this requires investing time in making new friends among people a large share of will likely leave Belgium at one point. The locals generally have circles of friends consolidated in decades through school, university, hobbies, etc. They also have family members on site (parents, parents in law, cousins, etc) that, together with friends, occupy most of their free time. And all the expats experience this when they return home for holidays and our old friends and family get the priority in our daily schedules.The life of the expats is different. The expats have stronger drive to socialise, friends become somehow your family in the town of adoption, and often is the profound need to share own adaptation experiences, doubts, worries, etc. that enhance the bond mainly to other expats, most often to those coming from own country of origin. The very same mechanism is not new in history, it’s a common pattern accompanying relevant migration waves in limited areas.

    1. marcoRecorder says:

      Hi Carmela,
      I totally see your point. Personal experiences can vary greatly from one another and it is indeed hard to make the locals mingle with the expats and viceversa.
      This applies to al expats communities in Europe and in the world. However, I think this is even harder in Brussels due to the continuous exchange of population (People come for 3/6 monhts and leave, then come back for a 1 year contract etc…). I stick to the point that BXL expats do build a wall around themselves when discovering the real Brussels (and the rest of Belgium). Very few still get out of the bubble and even express the interest in doing so and this is the image Bruxellois have of us. I’m not saying this is negative, but it is defintely what happens.

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