When I left Lyon, one of my colleagues gave me the highest compliment - "We would accept working with you. C'est OK." Then when I got to Brussels, a colleague here said that "Being Belgian is not a nationality but a vocation." When I asked him what being American meant, he said, "a fatality." Gee, thanks - to both those remarks!
Some more observations:
* Somehow Firefox on my work laptop is configured so that wherever I go, Google defaults to the the host country. That is, it automatically changed from Google.com to Google.fr to Google.be.
* The bilingual signs in Brussels are throwing me off, and I'm surprised how much is in English.
* The office is located in an elegant old house in a working-class, immigrant neighborhood close to the European Union and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Also, it not at all disabled accessible.
* I haven't seen anyone who validates their metro tickets so everyone rides for free - there aren't any entrance gates and I haven't seen any conductors.
* There are lots of veiled women, and most of them seem to be Turkish.
* The Brussels airport is annoying in that there were lots of ups and downs to the main exit, but the route was well-signed, so that arriving passengers followed each other like lemmings.
* In the local grocery store, if you use a plastic bag you're charged for it. (0.10 euros)
* I haven't seen Mannekin Pis yet.
* Hard to believe just walking around that there's a serious constitutional crisis afoot:
Belgium Still Can't Form Government
Belgium Split over Language, Economy
Regarding Google, that's happened to me the world over as well. I have no clue why.
About being American, I have actually been told to my face that it's a good thing that you have dual nationality passports, coz carrying an American passport can get you into trouble in many parts of the world. *sigh*
I think I'd feel differently if I were here for fun instead of work. :/ Re the veiled Turkey ladies, I didn't really figure it out until I realized that I was passing by all these little old ladies weren't speaking any sort of Arabic I'd recognized!
I called the mission office today and got directions to one of the wards but I think I'll visit Bruges instead.