I don’t get the whole Francophone fuss about “la rentrée”. I mean, I get why parents might celebrate the ability to (re)deposit their kids with someone else for a good chunk of the day but ‘back to school’ has always signalled the end of summer for me. The time when the roads fill up and a sense of routine returns. Perhaps this is its appeal. It is a way for Belgians to mourn the passing of another summer and the acknowledge the beginning of 300 days of rain and gloom. In any case, it is a time of new beginnings.
The last year has seen the normal ups and downs in expat life. As friends shift increasingly into family life it often feels quite lonely here in Brussels, and this, coupled with an untenable situation at work has meant very high stress levels for this Remedial Wife.
I’m trying to give Brussels another go and find things to appreciate. I’m still struggling with the fact we are still here which means it is time for a phase of “acceptance and appreciation” for where I find myself and what is around me.
This year along with one of my sisters (who coincidentally just relocated from a glitzy Middle East location to the city suffering post-Olympic come down), I’ve been doing the “photo a day” challenge where you snap something you’ve seen, been or done. This has helped but, as experience has taught me, I need to actively seek out the quirky and different in order to feel some sense of belonging in my adopted city.
And Belgium is full of quirky.
Mr B and I have just returned from an afternoon of strolling about our quartier which is celebrating Festival Kanal this weekend, alongside Car Free Day and open-house weekend (Jours du Patrimonie) when all kinds of public buildings are thrown open to visitors. Needless to say, the neighbourhood has been buzzing – from kids hyped up that they can cycle anywhere, to the pickpockets taking advantage of overcrowded trams.
Pictures to follow once I get to grips with this new template and overcome a finnicky hard drive that’s refusing to back-up. (success! )