My birthday is always interesting. It seems that I am never at home for my birthday. I've had a Mexico birthday, a Chicago birthday, two Summer Choral Institute birthdays, and now a Belgian birthday. Except, it was a Belgian birthday on a weekday in which I am a contributing adult member of society, so it was less than CRAZY. It was on Wednesday. It poured all day. And I worked 8 hours with a group of people that I had met the day before. So me waltzing in and announcing it was my birthday would've illicited a "oh hey! happy birthday!" and that's about it. So, I decided not to tell anyone except the other intern Marcela. Funny story though, I was compiling contact information for the Commissioners of the EU (important, I know) and my supervisor Alice (pronounced Ah-lee-CHAY not "Alice") told me to find out their birthdays. So I casually added, "Oh okay. You know, it's my birthday today." She laughed because she thought I was kidding and then carried on with her work. Silly american girl, trying to make a joke. Later she called me from her desk and said, "Mary, I actually need to know your birthday because if you go to one of our conferences, we'll need to know your information." And I said, "Okay.... It's today." Then she was like "Oh my gosh! I didn't understand! Happy Birthday!!" Apparently June 9th is a popular day because the office manager and the AGE director's birthday were also that day. They came down and gave me two kisses on the cheek because that's what you do for birthdays. After work, my host family had this delicious raspberry pastry pie for me. They didn't make me dinner because I told them that my friend Maddy had made dinner reservations for me. After pie, I met Maddy and when we got to the restaurant, almost all the people from my study abroad program were there! It was very nice :) And this hobo man came into the restaurant with flowers to sell and two girls bought me a pair of roses. How thoughtful. I love hobo roses. We were going to go out on the town after that but dinner lasted until like 11 and man, I'm not a teenager anymore. I am tired and lame and I work 8 hour days. So I went home and went to bed. Perfect. Not quite the birthday bash as years past but nonetheless, it was pleasant. Plus, I was in Europe for it! So I'll always be able to say that.
As for my internship, I started on Tuesday. There are two interns- me and Marcela (whom I like a lot). I work in this old townhouse just down the street from the huge glass buildings of the European Commission of the EU. It's funny, on the metro, I've started playing a game with myself to guess which stop people are going to get off at. I don't know what's at every stop but roughly, I have an idea. De Brouckere is the main shopping stop with Grand Place and there are always a lot of people on and off there. Parc is by a the Royal park, obviously, and the royal museums and the palace. I won't bore you with the details of the game because there are a lot of stops, but at the Shuman stop, where I get off for work, there are always lots of suits. LOTS of suits and briefcases. And fancy shoes. Anyway, my internship. Our office has two floors. There are high ceilings and creaky wooden floors. It's painted yellow and there are stacks of colored publications everywhere!- on desks, and shelves. You walk in and it LOOKS like what a non-profit NGO (non-governmental organization) should look like. The people are all very nice. I think there are something 11 people in the office. That's it. Plus, me and Marcela. I like that it's small because the things I do actually matter. I can see the point of them so it doesn't feel like grunt work. So far I've worked on updating our database a lot, figured out how to upload and write articles on the website (yes, some of the official website is my work now!), edited works in English, translated articles to french, stuffed envelopes and restocked our publication shelves (of course), and right now, we're preparing for these two meetings. One is on anti-discrimination and the other is on employment (of older people). Then later, we're having one on social protection. But, they're gathering all these experts from all these organizations and having dialogues and things. I get to attend! I'm excited. At first, I was kind of bummed about having to work 8 hour days instead of galavanting around Europe but, I'm beginning to see the worth in this experience.