The Culture in Brussels Gets Political
Brussels, the Capital
It only takes a quick conversation with people that live in Brussels to learn that this city truly is based around a political culture. Brussels is the capital of the European Union and holds the NATO headquarters. Most locals work either in politics, journalism, or lobbyist groups.
I am an American journalism and political science student that recently moved to Brussels for a study abroad program, but there is a lot of political culture to experience in Brussels outside of a classroom.
So much of my experience in Brussels comes from talking to locals and experiencing the culture first-hand, but there is one museum that I really enjoyed. The Parlamentarium is an interactive museum about the European Parliament. Something that I really liked about it was that everything is broken-down in a way that made it easier to understand.
Finding History in Brussels at the Parlamentarium
At the Parlamentarium, I was given a headset to scan in front of different check-points in all of the rooms. When I did, the headset either talked me through the room, gave me pictures to look at, or something to read. The Parlamentarium was overall very interactive and engaging.
The walk through the museum begins with some history of the wars in Europe that give a lot of background context as to why the people believed a union of European countries was necessary for peace. The museum then moves on to describe the procedure in which the European Union was formed and the way that it grew and works today. Towards the end of the museum, there are different videos from various countries explaining a little bit about that country's culture and main business industries. It kind of tied in how the European Union affects the everyday people of Europe.
Place Luxembourg Brings Political Culture Alive
The first time that I truly experienced the political culture of Brussels was from going to Place Luxembourg on a Thursday evening. Place Luxembourg is an area across the street from the European Parliament with many restaurants and bars. On Thursdays, all of the MEPs (Members of Parliament) leave Brussels to go back to their home countries. That means that all of the people that work under the MEPs in Parliament go to Place Luxembourg on Thursdays for happy hour that carries on into the night.
Brussels is such an international city, so I can always find someone who I can talk to in English. There is always a great turnout at Place Luxembourg on Thursday evenings and everyone gets their drinks and hangs out in the streets and walks from bar to bar. Obviously, drinking with a ton of people in a great area is fun in itself, but it is also the perfect way to talk to people. I love hearing people tell their stories about why they moved to Brussels and what they do. It's truly the best way to get a feel of how much Brussels culture revolves around politics.