Almost Goodbye Already?

My mobile phone data expired on Tuesday, marking officially one month of my time here in Brussels. I have just under ten days left in Belgium and am now convinced that time passes by quicker in some parts of the world.

Bruegel has been very busy preparing for its Annual Meetings, the biggest Bruegel event of the year. It will take place next week and I am very much looking forward to it. There will be incredible speakers covering topics ranging from industry to inequality to decarbonisation. The working year is also ending for many of the Research Assistants who come to Bruegel for generally only a year or two. Yesterday evening, we had a team dinner to say goodbye to some of them and I realised just how much we had bonded over the past few weeks. The Bruegel Welcome Package proved true to its word when it said that Bruegel ends up becoming a bit of a family; I will most definitely miss our team lunches and conversations.

These past weeks, I have been working on a project on trust in institutions, looking particularly at the EU. We have been analyzing how much citizens from different EU countries trust both national and supranational institutions and what determines this trust. Citizens’ trust in institutions is in fact a crucial factor in ensuring their survival. People who do not trust their institutions are more likely to exhibit challenging behavior and to resist — even to things that may be in their best interest. It has been absolutely fascinating to explore the determinants of people’s trust and how institutions can modify themselves in response.

I have also had the opportunity to travel a little more during my spare time. I visited the little city of Ghent which is often overshadowed by its more popular neighbor, Bruges, but is a spectacular medieval city. I saw more gothic cathedrals and buildings in that one day than I have in my life so far. I was also able to spend a fantastic weekend in Amsterdam. I did not think it was possible for there to be so much life, culture, art, and action all condensed into one city. I couldn’t help but feel overwhelmed at the million things I wanted to do in 48 hours. It also made me think of all the other cities and little corners of the world I had not yet been able to appreciate — and for a moment, I wished intensely that I could live a thousand lives through a thousand different pairs of eyes in hopes of getting to know the world just a little better. I think a heightened sense of curiosity will definitely be my greatest takeaway from this summer. While I have learnt and seen so much, I have also become even more aware of just how much there is to learn and to see and I think there’s something so beautifully exciting about that.

Written by Emma Abdullah ’20, FSI Global Policy intern through The Europe Center with Bruegel in Brussels, Belgium.