Europe

The month of June has been incredibly busy for me. I’ve had multiple projects on in multiple weeks as well as fitting in a lot of remote assessment for my students. Luckily we have online systems and WiFi!

I spent the bulk of the last week in Luxembourg with the European Commission. I was acting as a rapporteur for ICT evaluators. Over the course of the week I was immersed in a group of people who were interested, dedicated, passionate, educated and curious. While I was really just the Scribe, I was greeted very warmly by all (and it was acknowledged I knew a lot more than was expected about the technologies and projects). It felt good.

None of the people I met were “9-5”. They were all working full-time on their opus but had time for conversations, directed or idle. And they all spoke English – which prompted me to try my French and German even more.

Most evenings I was back to Northern Ireland matters – dealing with difficult conversations, assessing verbose reports on hardware installations and explaining to friends why I was in Luxembourg and not Lisburn (and to some, why I was in Lisburn in the first place).

Luxembourg is a curious place. Odd opening hours, seemingly conservative yet refreshingly liberal in other ways compared to home. The culture is foreign to me but I could get used to it and more than one person did suggest I look to Luxembourg or Brussels for my next work. I could get used to being one of the Luxembourgeoisie.

I heard stories of night escapes to the Island of Capri on the eve of the Second World War laden with Polish gold, ate with a restaurateur who builds schools in Nepal, of the failure of “foreign food” on the island of Crete, and of sailing and scuba diving in the waters around Spain and Mexico. We talked about travel, about post-scarcity society, about how to make a dent in the universe and how it would be cool to work on joint projects. I met some friends that I believe I will retain forever.

I am also confident that if the UK does vote to leave the EU, I will leave the UK. We need fewer borders not more.

I needed a break from the real world. And I feel like I am returning renewed.

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