Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Brussels

Can I please just point out-- and after six trains in Belgium, I know-- that Belgian trains have ridiculously high steps? And it's not just me, when I returned home a friend of mine and I were discussing Belgium and he agreed. Epically high, a stranger pulling you up, nearly dropping your cane steps. It also does not make things better when you take the wrong train. Sorry if I expect the train on my platform five minutes before mine leaves actually goes where I need to go...

But that's beside the point. I went to Belgium to meet Maude, another young woman with Dermatosparaxis. I stayed with a woman who had once been her tutor. At her house I got to know her very nice daughter and two granddaughters, as well as her study abroad student from France. I also got to talk with several people about disability attitudes and such.

Maude and I had very different upbringings. I am very lucky to have parents who see my disability as just another part of me, and let me live my life as ordinarily as possible-- just with added bandages. Maude's parents were more careful, and justifiably so. It's a scary thing when the merest bump could lead to a long battle with infection.

But, I also learned how grateful I should be for American school inclusion and for my friends who never saw me as different.

One day while I was there my host and her exchange student took me to Bruges, an adorable city outside of Brussels. I used a wheelchair that day so that we could see as many sights as possible. They were very helpful, but I have to admit I cannot imagine being a wheelchair user on all of those cobbles!

I don't have a lot of commentary on Brussels itself, we only went for one day. I can say that the Cathedral of Saint Michel is GORGEOUS and so much more awe-inspiring in person. Also, it has a handicapped bathroom, fun fact.

Travelling, though, is more than seeing he sights. It's about cultural exchange. I got to speak French in my three days there, and that was so encouraging, to see that I could really manage. I also hope I got to inspire some thoughts about what a disability does and does not have to mean. I think that was part of my motivation for traveling in the first place....

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1 comment:

  1. Danielle LavigneMay 21, 2009 at 7:21 AM

    I watched "In Bruges" the other day and it did look reeeally pretty! Glad you got to see it!

    Loving the blog, x

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