Sirens have been ringing non-stop today, or actually more like for the past two weeks.
I wouldn’t say that it has become normal, but it has become life in Brussels.
Hearing the sirens is inevitable, just like seeing the army tanks outside of every metro station and walking past military men with machine guns at the Christmas market.
You see something irregular in the picture, but its not the first time–and definitely not the last. Your eyes are drawn to the assault rifle in the policeman’s hands who is walking towards you, but you continue to eat your fondue-filled-baguette and look at the holiday trinkets as if this is just another normal Christmas season.
But, no matter how hard we try, this winter season feels less jolly than most. While the constant presence of military and police personnel serves as a reminder that a “threat” is still present, the empty streets and bars that are usually packed beyond capacity show that terror has once again taken over the minds of its victims.
I don’t personally feel at risk of any danger and most people I talk to who live in Brussels don’t either, but the tourists that usually overflow Le Grand Place and the city center felt differently. They became overwhelmed with fear, cancelled their trips and now their absence has left an eerie feeling over the whole city.
Between the empty streets, military tanks and armed police men, Brussels feels like a different city than when I arrived.
But, this does not change my love for Brussels. While my study abroad trip ended in an unexpected way, I wouldn’t change any of this to be living comfortably at home watching the breaking news craze from my couch.
This unfortunate circumstance taught me more about life than I would have ever learned else where and, while this may be life now, I have no doubt that Brussels will bounce back to its original, vibrant self soon.
But for now, we enjoy the extra room to move freely at the Christmas market, watch the light show at Le Grand Place without any worry of not being able to get a good picture and drown any thoughts of terror with a Chimay…or two.