Yesterday we went to the European Commission Visitor’s Center. We were unable to visit the actual EC building since one of its leaders opposes America's involvement in Iraq - or so we were told.
We listened to presentations on the politics and economics of the EU. The presentations were informational and interesting. After that was done we made our way back to the hotel and had a brief house-keeping meeting.
We split up into groups to enjoy the sites of the town. Jeremy Burton and Simon Noirhomme both met us Grand Place.
Simon took us to see the Belgian landmark, Manneken Pis, “The Peeing Boy.”
After hearing a few stories about how he became a famous landmark we bought some chocolate in a local shop and made our way to a little cafe for a brief break until we split into two more groups, one staying in the town and another taking all the purchases back to the hotel.
After this we all went back to the town and enjoyed the night-time life.
Top Photo: Students in conference room at European Commission. Left: Clay Koehler stands in front of Manneken Pis.
Walking throughout the cobblestone streets and alleys of Brussels has made me realize the similarities of Belgium and Indiana. Due to the fact that Indiana is labeled the “Crossroads of America” and the Belgium being the “Heart of Europe,” because of the European Union institutions that are located in Brussels. Yet, Belgium differs greatly from the state of Indiana. A perfect example is that one can turn a corner and immediately hear five different languages being spoken among street vendors, youth, couples, and beggars.
Photo: Mr. Jo Vandercappellen (Member of the European Commission Speakers Team) Answers questions from students about how the Commission works.
So far we have visited the European Commission, which has proved to be incredibly insightful because of the presentation given to us there. In that presentation the guide explained the many complexities that face the European Commission in compiling legislation that effects a majority if the European nations.
One cannot even start to imagine the cultural differences among Europeans and North Americans. To begin we were educated by a robust waiter who informed us why the Belgians were the pioneers for drinking and driving.
Here in this photo is the bottom heavy glass that sits in a coaster. The waiter informed us that the coasters were once fitted unto wagons or carriages by the drivers to hold their beers. The glass is shaped so because the drivers soon found that the curve in the middle absorbed the shocks of the cobblestone streets. Hence, instead of the beer spilling all over the street the glass moves like a hula hoop and the beer stays in place for the driver to enjoy on the job. This was just the beginning of such cultural differences. Monday evening we decided to visit a bar that has been in business since 1695 under the same family ownership.
There I immersed myself not only in the beer, but the language as well. Speaking with a gentleman next to me I found out that he came from France when he was sixteen. After thirty years as a printer and two years at the Sorbonne he has been out of work for thirteen years. Then I found myself at a table with three very lovely ladies from Brussels. What I learned in relation to the European Union is that it has simplified the movement of cultural and commerce. Everyone has enjoyed the benefits, especially my new friend the printer, and they hope the Union can continue to its growth in policies.