Friday, March 9, 2007

Encore la Belgique!!

Today, for the first time in a week, just sitting was lovely and perfectly relaxing. The TGV, the high speed train from Paris to Grenoble, was especially nice today in comparison to all the other sitting I have been doing this week, either in slightly boring meetings with the subsequent struggle to stay awake and/or ask intelligent questions, at dinner with people I've basically just met, or in bars afterwards with music and lots of people drinking and yelling. None of these situations are terribly relaxing, and followed by not-quite-enough sleep afterwards, have led to some fatigue. So the 3 hours of sitting in a comfortable pullover, in contrast to slightly chafing dress clothes, in the silence of the train, reading and knitting, was an amazing experience.

I have returned from Belgium, however, with more than just tiredness, but with knowledge I didn't have before about the European Union and its institutions, countries, maps, etc. Truthfully, most of what I learned centered around the incredible beaucracy of such a large institution, with its sluggishness of movement in policy and other matters, and about its representatives' reluctance to say anything actually informative. You should not hold a question and answer session if you fully intend on verbally circling every single question!! What they don't say can be interesting too, however, and I certainly know more about the EU than at the beginning (which wasn't much, but still).

And, as always, I think it is the people that make or break an experience for me. If I hadn't met anyone I respected/liked/enjoyed being with, my week would have been a disaster. There are cool people everywhere as new experiences continually remind me, and there were several people that I hung out with more than the others that I really enjoyed being with. Its almost sad, knowing that if you had met someone in other circumstances, you could have become good friends, but because you will know them for a week in a conference setting there is a very low probability that will happen. Its like lost friendship potential...but who knows, with this wonderful thing called the internet, anything is possible!

So yes, now I am back in Grenoble, and must confront the early wake-up call and then the bike ride to work tomorrow, which will be an effort I am afraid due to the incredible number of Belgian calories I have consumed in the past week...

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