By Lily Collin
We are all people with different origins, born in different places, raised in different environments, with different cultures and languages. How does being in a European School affect us and our place in society?
It can be a big advantage to have been to a lot of places, to have traveled, to have met people of different languages and cultures, but it can sometimes feel like a burden. I’ve lived in the same city my entire life, but my parents have different nationalities. I don’t really feel at home in Brussels. However, in the European School, I fit right in. Everybody has mixed origins, like me, they speak several languages, have parents from different countries, and so on. If you have been brought up in a multicultural way, as I have, you feel normal in the European School. For that reason, I feel quite at home at the European School, since all the European cultures are mixed, and everybody is accepted. Like the EU motto says: «United in diversity».
When I bike home from school, take a walk, or meet someone who is Belgian, I sometimes feel like I’m a bit of an outsider. I don’t speak as good French as I would like to, and I can’t speak any Dutch. I can’t even communicate with a lot of people in this country. I don’t have much contact with Belgian culture either, I don’t wear my shoes inside, nor do I celebrate Saint-Nicolas or other Belgian holidays. I’m not even sure when the Belgian national day is. Usually, people expect me to identify as Belgian, at least partly, but I don’t do so at all.
Then I travel to my parent’s families. I don’t belong there either. I don’t know the popular songs everybody is listening to, I don’t know the TV program everybody is watching now. I want to be like them, but I can’t. I haven’t even ever lived there. When I talk to someone my age there, I feel different. They ask me a question they think is easy, simple; ”Where are you from?”. They usually expect a specification of what region or city you come from. They don’t know how hard it is to explain. I usually answer; ”Long story short, my mom is from…and my dad is from…, but I actually live in…” Their follow-up question is usually ”Oh really? That’s different, does that mean you speak Belgian?” Or even worse they’ve asked me where Belgium is located.
In conclusion, I hope I can tighten my connection with my parent’s nationalities, and I am happy to have the privilege of seeing so much of the world. Brussels has its charm, I’m not going to take that away from it. I will always brag about the Belgian waffles, and fight for/inform people that fries are not French. I also want to thank the European Schools for making me feel normal.
– Lily Collin S5SVA at EEB2
Image by Freepik