Becoming Belgian: my post EU-referendum story so far. Part 2.

(Find part 1 here.)

No, I don’t have an update re: my application for Belgian nationality (despite sending a cheeky tweet asking Guy Verhofstadt to put in a good word for me) just a few more thoughts following my first trip back to the UK, post referendum – a somewhat hasty post (kindly forgive its lack of polish) before I head back to the UK again for a wedding this weekend .

I just spent five days in the heart of London supervising a group of international students on a theatre and visual arts trip, which took us to various galleries and shows.  I don’t know what effect Brexit will have on educational trips like this one in the future, but I expect that they are likely to become more costly and complicated to organise for any school on mainland Europe, but maybe that is a post for the later on.

I don’t often think of London to be honest, even though I grew up not far from the city, at the end of the Met line. And when I do, I think of it as a place that would be fantastic to live in but probably completely unaffordable, and a place that is fairly unrepresentative of how most people in Britain experience life. My thoughts about Britain tend to focus more on Scotland, which is where I lived for ten years before I left the UK. This is particularly the case this week with the developments at the SNP conference and the headlines coming from that.

Sculpture at Regents Park

But as soon as I arrive at Kings Cross, I absolutely love it. I love the busy-ness of London, I live the iconic sights. I love watching how London life -as represented by its evolving skyline -negotiates the divide between its past and its shiny, modern present. I feel safe in central London -it canters along at such a pace, but I do not find the atmosphere tense or edgy. And this being a brief update, I do not have the space to wax lyrical about all of the culture on offer there, but we saw some world class exhibitions, including You Say You Want A Revolution at the V&A and Georgia O’ Keeffe at the Tate. Not cheap, but we also sat in Regent’s Park in the early autumn sunshine and enjoyed The Frieze Sculpture Park for free.

In London, you cannot walk more than a few steps without hearing another language. You will be helped in shops, stations and cafés by people of all different nationalities. You will see the influence of generations of immigration on the city in every part of it. You will look up at glossy buildings and ponder the trade and business which is happening between London and Europe, and the world. You will see groups of tourists from everywhere enjoying all of these things, alongside the traditionally British features of London which seem to be enhanced – not diminished – by  the international influences jostling around them. I am not denying that London has any of the problems common to most big cities (it does) or that it is too expensive (it is) or that working towards a harmonious and hugely multi-cultural society does not present challenges (of course it does). But clichéd as it sounds -and I know I speak as a visitor, not as a resident – London has a buzz which to a massive degree is created by its internationalism. It is not possible to imagine a mono-cultural London, and the vision would be a grim and soulless one.

So to pace the streets enjoying art, food, sounds and smells from the city itself and from all over the world, and to simultaneously contemplate that London is -against the will of its people – being taken out of the what is both a part of that internationalism, and a gateway to further internationalism, was also simply very, very sad…

Even in the rain …


Info update: If you wish to apply for Belgian Nationality, you can now begin the process online:

27 thoughts on “Becoming Belgian: my post EU-referendum story so far. Part 2.

  1. Ploof read:

    But as soon as I arrive at Kings Cross, I absolutely love it. I love the busy-ness of London, I live the iconic sights. I love watching how London life -as represented by its evolving skyline negotiates the divide between its past and its shiny, modern present. I feel safe in central London -it canters along at such a pace, but I do not find the atmosphere tense or edgy.

    On Fri, Oct 14, 2016 at 1:26 PM, nessascityblog wrote:

    > nessamcc posted: “No, I don’t have an update re: my application for > Belgian nationality (despite sending a cheeky tweet asking Guy > Verhofstadt to put in a good word for me) just a few more thoughts > following my first trip back to the UK, post referendum – a somewhat hasty > ” >

    Liked by 1 person

  2. karenkaede

    I absolutely agree with what you said about London! (I used to live around King’s Cross before Antwerp.) There is so much that is infuriating about living there like the costs of living etc BUT all that aside, there is just such a special buzz about the city, that isn’t too overwhelming. There is always something to see and do, and so many places you could get inspiration. I also love that every street has a surprise because of the diversity that exists in the city. I do miss London!

    Liked by 1 person

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  6. Jez

    “It is not possible to imagine a mono-cultural London, and the vision would be a grim and soulless one.”

    It is possible. London has been an english city for centuries -> Multiculturalism is a very new idea in there. It started to become a soulles multiculti-city around 1950. If monocultural means soulles, why I liked City of Bath(monocultural) much more than London? If I visit England, I want to see and feel english culture, not somekind of mixture of nothingnes. When I visited Japan, I really liked the fact that Japan is Japan, not Poland, England or Morocco.
    Multiculturalism inside one country leads to destruction of cultures by mixing out. If you mix all the colours the result is the death of different coulours and you get only one colour.


    1. Vicki

      If mixing cultures and races ends up in the eradication of certain skin colours, who cares? Life a process of moving forward, embracing changes and everything that entails. Whether we’re white, black, olive skinned, what does it matter? The history of those races won’t disappear, we’ll just be able to look back at how we progressed as one human race. It’s been shown that people are taller, and have bigger feet than we did decades ago, how is the merging in our skin colour any different from any other evolutionary change we experience!? Your point seems pointless, I’m afraid. I don’t believe in keeping things the same “just because it’s the way it’s always been”. It’s a toxic, dull, and backward manner of thinking.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. keesm

        Maybe you want to destruction of different dog races also? So there would be only one dog race in the world. And how about the different kind of bears..? Why there are different kind of bears, we should only have one kind of bears, lets eradicate the polar bear! The Diversity of bears is pure evil! And maybe you want to destroy different landscapes also. It so evil that some countries have mountains and others dont. Lets level the mountains.

        “It’s a toxic, dull, and backward manner of thinking.” A quote from Stefan Molyneux(Greatest Canadian ever) -> not an argument 🙂


  7. Think we will have to agree to disagree there. I have been to Bath. It is a nice city, for sure but I much prefer the internationalism that makes London what it is. Bath is somewhat bland in comparison. When I travel I do not seek some stereotyped, refined version of what might be presented as a national culture in tourist material – immigration is one of the ways in which cities evolve and the idea that this only began in the 1950s in London is laughable. Google is your friend, but I’ll help you out:


    1. Maltkjas

      “immigration is one of the ways in which cities evolve and the idea that this only began in the 1950s in London is laughable. ”

      – Wrong. London has always been a white city. Visible minorities started to move to London in a large scale after WW2. White British are now a minority in London. What is the exact population replacement level that you want? 90% or 100% ? When there are no white people in London, are you happy then? And also, Japan is a homogenic nation(good thing), would like that Japanese people would disappear from the world by population replacement? A Tokyo where there are zero Japanese people?

      Immigration between European nations is not a problem, we are the same people, we share the values, religion(or the idea of secularism) and genes, only the language is different. What is problem is the mass immigration from non European nations


      1. Saying something is ‘wrong’ doesn’t make it so, something that Donald Trump should learn. Londinium was a major port and road nexus of the Roman Empire in Britain (not Aquae Sulis funnily enough) and, as such, was full of merchants from all over the Empire. It’s been multicultural since it was formed. Just because you white supremacists want to make some revisions to history doesn’t mean that normal sane human beings are going to let you.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Jen

        Europeans are the same people who share the same values, religion and genes? Only language is different? And the implication that any non-european does not fit into this? Hate to break it to you, but genetics shows that all humans are the same species. We breed together, we create viable offspring. We have the same genes regardless of skin colour.

        Also, as a Canadian who has now experienced living in 4 different European countries, I can tell you that Europeans do not all share the same values and religion. There are so many unique cultures intertwined in Europe; behaving in a certain manner is respected in one area and seen as rude in another. Culture is heavily intertwined with language, even dialect; speaking a different language is to experience a different culture.

        We can go into what exact “Europe” you are speaking of…there are large mixings of populations due to varieties of empires and communities which have existed over the past thousands of years… and really, we all originate from Africa.

        As for whiteness apparently being amazing… darker skin is beneficial in areas which receive more sunlight. ,, and with climate change these days maybe it would be helpful for us pasty folk to have some offspring with more skin pigment 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      3. keesm

        Everyone knows that London is originally a Roman city, but it has always been a white city. We are all humans, but it has took about 40000 years of evolution that has created three different races: asians, europeans and africans. It would be great if we could have the diversity of peoples in the future also.


      4. keesm

        Diversity of races is amazing. Are you aware that skin colour are defined by the genes just like skull shape. Yes, race is more than skin colour. Darker skin is a result of evolution just like lighter skin. In areas that receive a lot of sunshine darker skin is better than lighter. In areas that are dark, darker skin leads to insufficiency of vitamin D. Ever wondered why the whitest people are from Ireland 🙂 ? And for the climate change…actually it increases the amount of rain also so there will be less sunshine so lighter skin colour would be good in Europe. We have all come from Africa. but 40000 years of evolution have produced three different main races by adjustment to different environment. South-Korea is homogenic country and very good example of nation that understands the responsibility to their forefathers to preserve their national identity.

        Diversity of cultures is amazing. Yes, in Europe there are cultural differences, but the main lines are pretty much the same so immigration between different European countries is quite easy and immigration between different European countries have never been an issue, because the cultural differences are so small(offcourse some minor difficulties have been) I have lived in five different countries in Europe, but because we share a lot of values it has been easy for me to integrate to the host country. But, if I had to live in Saudi-Arabia for the rest of my life, it would impossible for me to truly adjust to host country and I would not be happy there. I have not visited Saudi-Arabia(Only Turkey, Qatar and UAE) but maybe someday I will have a short holiday there.

        The idea that we are all the same is product of cultural marxism.


  8. I don’t share your values Maltkjas, despite my European genes. My partner has non-European heritage, and so do many of my colleagues and friends. White British Londoners are by far the largest racial group in London and I don’t give a toss if they have fallen below the 50% mark. But post-Brexit nastiness was not solely directed at non-Europeans (not that it would ever be OK if it were) lots of Poles were the targets of abuse too.


  9. firegirl

    Speaking of a multicultural Lindon, Britain apparently has the highest number of mixed-race marriages in the world. I think that is a great example that people are perfectly capable of not judging by the colour of their skin, their culture or their religion. When people mix with an open mind, people see similarities, not differences.

    If you want to create barriers between people, it is easy enough to do on the basis of obvious ‘differences’, and unfortunately people use race and culture to do that all that often. These difference are then loaded with value judgements and you are on a slippery slope because of your discriminatory attitude. So if European immigration is not a problem, is the migration of Germans acceptable? French? Greeks? Romanians? Could you let us know your views, Maltkjas?

    As a German I am painfully aware of what categorising people can lead to. Of course the Holocaust is by far the worst of Hitler’s atrocities, but he didn’t stop there by categorising people. Trade unionists, Romanies, homosexuals, disabled people, priests. And then the millions of soldiers and civilians drawn in and affected by the war. A war waged by a European nation that had been considered as advanced, educated and cultured. So much for European superiority, or should I say supremacy!?

    Hate breads hate and there are too many people out there judging and blaming others for their misfortunes rather than taking a look at themselves first. Why not use your energy for something more positive, constructive? Migration is as old as humanity itself and will never go away. Start researching your family history and I am sure you will be surprised…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. keesm

      Survival of the different races is positive thing. Destruction of different races is bad thing. And about the Holo-thing you can visit Red Ice radio on youtube and hear truth about it. Do you understand that the holo-thing is powerful psychological weapon to use against germans to silence them down, feel guilty and not talk about Eisenhowers deathcamps and testicle crushing in Nurnburg-trials.

      If we look the big picture all the animosity against Germans is easy to understand.
      The hate against germans started between 1800-1900 because of German unification at that time made Germany a very formidable player in Europe that could challenge the Anglosphere dominance of the world(I have nothing against it or english language). But as always, history belongs to the victors as they can demonize the loser. Nothing new, this has been done always.

      Are you aware that the biggest genocide is done to Ukrainians by communists? If not, I do not blame you. The Ukrainian holodomor is mainly unheard of and that is because the Ukrainians do not own the media. The media and Hollywood belongs to other very ethnocentric group who use it to their benefit.


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