No more fries! When I started my international assignment in Grimbergen, a suburb of Brussels, I could never have imagined that I would be saying that after three months. But the unofficial national dish of Belgium is ever-present – traditionally served in a paper bag, or in a sandwich, or with mussels. Not to mention the 50 sauces to choose from, which can make it difficult to decide.
From the minute I stepped into the office, it was clear that the atmosphere is very relaxed. Everyone says hello to each other – including a kiss on the cheek for female colleagues.
What I found most difficult in the beginning were the many languages spoken around the office. It took me a while to get used to that, and I found it hard-going at first. One minute, you are talking French, then it’s Flemish with another colleague, and then English, of course. My head was still spinning when I got back to my apartment in the center of Brussels at the end of the day. To unwind – and to fortify myself for the next day – I enjoyed sampling one of the many Belgian specialties, washed down with a beer, of which there are numerous different types.
What I particularly appreciated was the focus on the team. You always work as part of a team, for example with one or two others on customer projects. You give each other support and always have a colleague to discuss the approach with. This sense of community helped me a lot with the projects that I worked on for the various departments. I always had the right person to speak to about the outcome of my extensive research and analysis.
I have continued this team focus with my fellow trainees in Germany. We discuss the right approach to customer meetings as well as our sales successes and failures, and give each other feedback and make suggestions.
After three months in Europe’s capital, I leave the team of around 30 people with mixed feelings. Sure, it is great to be back home, but I am glad to have made new friends among my colleagues there. I am now looking forward to CHG-MERIDIAN’s various international events, where I might bump into one or two of them again.
On that note: Au revoir Bruxelles en we zien elkaar snel weer.
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