Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Settling into my intern life in Brussels.

Hey guys, guess where I'm writing this blog post from? No, not somewhere exciting like The White House or Mars, but somewhere totally boring - prepare to have your mind blown - I'M IN MY ROOM! Yup, that's right. My room. Because I have a room in a house here in Brussels and as a result am finally starting to get settled into my new life.

I was so so so lucky to have a very kind friend of a friend, Kerry, and her equally lovely flatmate, Elina, to stay with while I searched high and low for my own place to live, and we had a really nice big meal together before my last night on their sofa: lots of nibbles to start with, a main course of Tuscan chicken stew with potato dauphinoise, green beans, salad and fresh bread, followed by Kerry’s amazing freshly-baked M&M cookies for pudding. You know I ate too many cookies but when they’re warm from the oven how can you not!?

As amazing as it was to crash with Elina and Kerry, living out of a suitcase really isn’t the best thing in the world, and this gal certainly couldn’t do it for long. I would walk round Brussels admiring beautiful building upon beautiful building, and just wishing one of them would contain a room for me in a flat of native French-speakers (and more than one other colocataire), preferably all under 30, ideally not just men, within my budget, furnished, in walking distance to work, available from now and for just six months. I mean, was I asking for the moon? Not really. Ahem.

Flat/house-hunting is both physically and emotionally EXHAUSTING! Sometimes you go to a visit feeling really hopeful after reading the ad and exchanging messages with the other inhabitants, you keep everything crossed, and then you go and it's somehow not right. Other times, everything's great, you really like the property, put forward your interest, go away with everything crossed, then find out the room's been given to someone else. Sigh...

But I think I made the right move by not pouncing at the first thing that came along as I'm now in a beautiful, big, bargainous house with - get this - SEVEN other native French-speakers! How awesome is that!? Four Belgians and three French, I believe. And what's more, they all seem totes lovely.

You'd be surprised by how hard it is to find a room in a property of young French-speakers in Brussels: as there are always interns coming and going from all over the world, the city is wonderfully cosmopolitan and international. Great on many-a-level, not so great for those of us who are supposedly here to practice our French. But guys, I've been in my new home mere days and I've already learned some more French bits and bobs. HOO-RAH!

Patisserie goodies
Once I've finished Rachelifying my room, I'll obviously do a little post welcoming you all to my new humble abode, so keep your eyes peeled for that. I also can't wait to explore the surrounding area a little more - my new home turf, you might say. I had just a little stroll the other day and stumbled across all sorts of pleasing things: vintage shops, patisseries, creperies, delis, quirky boutiques, trendy cafés and bars, not to mention the most-adorable-looking cupcake place! I literally saw the sign (a pink cupcake) and felt drawn towards it. Parfait.

On the subject of food (how do I always manage to get on to that subject without even trying?), I've gotta tell you about some of the other delicacies I've discovered... Remember how I told you about the Brussels waffle in this post? Weeeell... Ladies and gentlemen, allow me to present to you the beauty that is the Liège waffle: sweet, slightly sticky and wonderfully warm. Just thinking about it makes me want another one.

I've also realised Brussels permanently smells of waffles, which I think is both amazing and dangerous in equal measures.

And what else is Brussels famous for, foodie-wise? FRITES, of course. Frites, glorious frites. I finally got my first cone-full of proper Belgian frites and ate them on the steps of the impressive Bourse building in the city centre at dusk.

And oh, they were DELICIOUS! Crisp on the outside, fluffy inside and full of flavour... I can see why they're famous. You might think chips are chips, but these really are something special. Just like the waffles. And yes, I had my frites with a load of ketchup, mayo and a view of the bustling city centre as night fell.

I chose my chip-place on a recommendation, but since then I've been recommended a couple of other friteries, so of course I'm going to have to sample their frites and compare. You know, for the sake of research. For people coming to Brussels who might only have time for one cone of chippy goodness. God, I'm so selfless. (I'll get back to you.)

Oh, I'm not finished talking about food yet, sorry. People, just LOOK at this!

I'm only a blimmin' BISCUIT here in Belgium! How cool is that!? Rachel is never anything! Oh, except for Rachel's Organic Yogurt, but that's only one other thing. I'M A BISCUIT! Am I too excited about this? And at least they spelled Rachel the right way (don't go throwing in extra 'A's unnecessarily now.) Obviously, I have bought a packet. I'm actually yet to try myself in biscuit form (other yummies to finish off first, you know how it is), but don't I look delish, all coconutty and sugary? Mmmm. I'll report back on this too. You can sleep easy tonight.

So yes, you can say I'm loving getting to know Brussels and not even just for its food, honest.

I love the comic murals that are dotted round the city - remember I showed you this Tintin one? Well there are lots of different ones to be discovered, a couple of which I've included for your viewing pleasure above.

The city centre is super touristy, for sure, but I absolutely love the buzz of it, and there's always lots to see, from fashion shoots to flash mobs. Or you could just chuckle to yourself at café signs:

Have you seen the Eddie Izzard lego 'Cake or death' clip? It's so funny and my siblings and I particularly love it. If you're a fan, you too may enjoy the aforementioned sign.

I don't generally have any need to go into the centre of Brussels during the week, so I was super thrilled to do a spot more touristing with my delightful cousin, Rosie, and her boyfriend, Tom, when they came to visit last weekend.

Brussels Palace
Brussels beautiful Grand-Place
It's always nice to see a familiar face after moving somewhere new, and there really is nothing like family. It was a gorgeous sunny Sunday, and we wandered round the city catching up on our lives, with an al fresco lunch-stop midway.

Lunch time!
I really have been lucky with the weather for my first couple of weeks here - gosh, tomorrow will be two weeks since I arrived! I've been eating my lunch in the park, walking to and from work everyday, and on my first weekend here I met up with a big group of people (only one of which I'd met before, but you've gotta put yourself out there to make friends in a new place) for a long afternoon picnic in the park.

There's nothing like blue sky, sunshine and flowers to put a smile on a gal's face!

Cheeky walk-to-work instagram
And yes, let me tell you a little bit more about what I'm actually here to do: my internship at BBC News' Brussels Bureau. People, I. Am. LOVING it!

This was me being very excited on my first day. Way to play it cool with a lift-selfie.
I kinda can't believe I actually have badge/pass thingies that say I'm a journalist who works for the BBC. I recently found out that the BBC's Athens Correspondent, Mark Lowen (you'll probs recognise him from your telleh box), started out as an intern in their Paris bureau. I'm sure I don't need to tell you how excited this makes me.

Everyone I work with has been SO nice, friendly and welcoming, and even the super top-dogs take the time to talk to me, the mere intern. It may sound lame, but meeting (let alone working alongside!) the people I admire so much is absolutely amazing.

Every morning I go to work excited about what the day may bring, and every night I go to bed looking forward to going to work the next day. This is why news is such an awesome industry: every day you're working on something different. And oh, the rush I get upon seeing something I've worked on included in a broadcast.

Yesterday, I went to a press conference thingymajiggy in the European Parliament, which was pretty cool.

It looks huge from the outside, but let me tell you, inside it seems even bigger. Well, it did to me!

I was a bit early.

European Parliament tea.
Yeah, we were given lots of tea and free bottles of water too. I imagine most people wouldn't bat an eyelid at that, but this here poor, enthusiastic intern was pretty chuffed.

But even if I'm just in the office all day, I still enjoy myself. As you can imagine, the BBC News offices are extremely pleasant, with TV and radio studios and a nice kitchen too - yup, more water, tea and coffee whoop! (I am literally so lame.) Everyone in journalism seems to drink a lot of coffee and I'm just here like tea tea tea tea tea tea tea tea tea tea tea tea.

A week and a half in and everything still feels pretty new: there's a lot still to learn, but it's nice to feel like I'm getting the hang of some things. Today I set up Nigel Farage for an interview (sorting the studio, plugging him in, tuning the camera, connecting to London etc), so that was pretty great. Would not have wanted to mess that up! In fact, I really really don't want to mess anything up, and I'm so desperate to do well.

Tomorrow is going to be a big exciting day because it's the EU Summit. I am going to be on Merkel/Cameron/Hollande/all-the-other-EU-heads-of-state-that-I-ceebs-to-mention watch and I can't wait to experience the excitement of it all.

À bientôt! (See, I'm practically fluent already.)


  1. You seem so happy, just reading your blog makes me happy, too :) I really think and hope you'll have a great six months in Brussels, and working for the BBC seems SO. COOL!

    1. Aww thanks, Line. And your comment makes me even happier! I really hope so too. Yay for being happy! :) X

  2. I adore your writing style - you're so funny! It's perfect that you're interning with the BBC as you'd make a great journalist. Bonne chance à toi pour ton stage en enterprise!

    Tamsin xx | A Certain Adventure

    1. That's so kind of you to say, thanks a lot, Tamsin :) x

  3. It sounds incredible & now I am not only very hungry but wishing I could eat some waffles!

    I really love reading your blog :)

    1. Thanks Caitlin. I permanently crave waffles at the moment :) x

  4. Ooh you are so so so so so lucky!! I am jealous :) why did I decide to learn the language of food rather than a useful one like French or German? I might have to drag my trusty travel companion back to Brussels this summer to catch up on all the frites we've missed out on. And BBC in Brussels! Oh my God!! xxx
    La Lingua : Food, Life, Love, Travel, Friends, Italy

    1. Ha ha thanks Lucy. I do indeed feel very lucky. Oh but all languages are useful really! And yes, come to Brussels for some frites! X

  5. I stumbeld acrosss your Blog a while ago and since I'm from Bayreuth it was so interessting to read about your time there from the view of a person from a different country! I'm moved to the USA 3 years ago and it just made me smile and miss my beautiful hometown! Anyways, I actually just wanted to tell you I absolutely fell in love with your Blog and the way you write :D Can't wait to read about your adventures in Brussel! Btw the pictures of the fries and waffles made so hungry lol

    1. Hi Lisa, thank you so much for taking the time to write me such a lovely comment. I'm so glad you enjoyed reading about Bayreuth and hope you're enjoying the American life :) x

  6. Loving those Rachel biscuits!! xxx


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
© Handbags and Cupcakes. All rights reserved.