Throughout my life I have had the pleasure to visit many exciting cities from various places around the world. Some have been very large cities such as Tokyo and Beijing, while others have been relatively small or barely even extant such as Kibwezi, Kenya. Each place, while they had some similarities, had many distinctive qualities about them that made them special. Brussels is no different. Similarly to Tokyo there are large office buildings and lots of people, both foreign and local. Similarly to Kibwezi there are numerous shops that each sell specific merchandise or food that could be prove useful to locals and visitors alike. However, where Brussels is different from the cities that I have visited so far, is just how easily they have been able to combine their past with their present. Many of the buildings here that house businesses are hundreds of years old. There are, of course, buildings like these in the cities of Eastern Asia that I have visited, but they feel more separated from modern society and seem to treated with more reverence and respect than the old structures of Brussels. That’s not to say that the Belgians are being disrespectful of their historical buildings, but instead their past is still a part of their present and not swept aside meant to be used solely as a tourist attraction. Of course, the more extravagant buildings are seldom used for anything but touristy destinations, but they are, nonetheless, surrounded by similarly aged buildings that are still in use for their intended purpose. In addition to their use of historic buildings, I found the astronomical amount of graffiti to be quite interesting. Everywhere you go there is graffiti. There is no escaping it. One would think that with as proud a history as Brussels’ has, and as the host city to the European Union, that they would work to keep it clean of such things. Instead, beautiful murals and somewhat tasteless graffiti tags alike line the walls of Brussels. To be honest, it was a little disappointing. There are four different ways to dispose of trash/recycling, yet the walls of their city streets are lined with graffiti. Completely unexpected.
Overall, however, these first few days have been full of new sights, sounds, and smells. I can not wait to see what the coming weeks have to offer.