My perspective on how being in a European School affects us and our place in society 

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

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