Haugesund is little like what you might think of Norway, with the fjords and the mountains. At least the water part of it. I grew up on the other side of the straits, with the ocean on one side and the city on the other. The open sea in the west and the mountains in the east. This gives the possibility for both hikes in the big green and trips on the open blue. There are tree houses in white mixed with more modern houses, but very few high buildings. Tall buildings are actually that rare that the two of them are named ‘The Highrises’ with the total of 13 floors. The only building that is more famous than the Highrises is the pink town hall. It is neither exceptionally huge nor crazy beautiful, the color however is conserved of preservation.
Brussels on the other hand is huge, there are high buildings with carvings in them everywhere. All in hard material like masonry. There are so many cars and endless amounts of people. Brussels is perfect if you are a photographer, the number of motives are unlimited. It is magnificent but you can not compare a park with raw nature. However, Brussels wins when you think of architecture and urban feeling.
How I get around
To me the biggest difference, both good and bad, is the size. Me going here was like Carrie Bradshaw, from TV-series ‘Sex and the City’, going to NYC for the first time. Young and naïve and blue-eyed. I have seen big cities like Tokyo and Las Vegas before, but always been protected from the hard life of map-reading by parents. I never fell in love like Carrie did, I did however get hit by a culture-shock.
Some might say that getting lost in the woods is a horrible experience. To me the worst is getting lost in the concrete jungle that is Brussels. It took me weeks getting how the public transport system works and what is more; there is people everywhere. Some time I look down a street a wonder how they all fit in there.
Just like Carrie Bradshaw I should be strutting down the street in fabulous outfits. Wearing high heals and dresses and sparkling like a big-city princess. White smile and pretty hair that blows in the wind whenever a good looking guy is look at me from across the street. Turns out I am not a Carrie; I am maybe more a Miranda. Hard working, wears comfortable clothes and short hair. Sorry mom but you are not getting a European son in law.
I thought I would be eating croissants and macrons and drinking wine like the fine ladies like Blair Waldorf from ‘Gossip Girl’ does whenever she visits Europe. But I am not a Blair either. Beer has of course been my go to beverage here in Brussels, and this has shown of on the weight scale. Not very lady-like. Even so this is what I will miss when I go back home. A beer is six times the price in Norway and are nowhere near as tasty as they are here.
Turns out life is not an action movie either
One of the reasons I chose Brussels in the first place was the placement. Considering how it is in the middle of Europe with trains going out to the other capitals the conditions are all there, but I still never visited the romantic city of Paris. I blame the terror. My friend and I had been talking for months about leaving for France and November was the month that seem most reasonable. But then everything happened and I never went anywhere.
Maybe I was expecting to much
The terror never scared me off though, not in anyway. Suddenly I was living an action movie. I was Katniss Everdeen from 'The Hunger Games', sweet but fearless. I realized I could learn something related to war-journalism and decided to show up in Molenbeek to see what a raid is like. I do not know what I expected, but what I got was a lot of police standing still and asking me to step back even though the action was way behind the barriers.
Maybe I was expecting to much from my Erasmus program. Maybe I was expecting to much from Brussels. Maybe I love Norway just a little too much. And maybe life is just not a movie and nothing is comparable to it. One thing I know; I did have a lot of fun, I learnt a lot and one of these things are that I at some point will move back to Haugesund. Just not right now, first I will try something else.