Un été à Bruxelles: The Green Week Revival

Things I wouldn’t wish upon anyone: watching a brand new metro pass you spent your last €14 on get yanked out of your hand by the wind, whisked out into traffic and out of view.

Things I would wish upon other: the chance to rekindle your love of journalism.

This week, Adam and I only spent one day in the New Europe newsroom. Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday were spent at The Egg for the European Commission Green Week 2014. We were spoiled beyond our wildest dreams in both amenities (free wooden flash drives, free wine with free lunch, endless coffee, a dedicated press room) and speakers (European Commissioner for the Environment Janez Potočnik, UNEP executive director Achim Steiner, WWF director general Marco Lambertini).

Green Week, now in its 14th year, is a three-day-long conference on all thing environmental, with a focus on economic and political change. Of course, there are plenty of day-to-day solutions to be found in expo booths — why biking to work is important, how to start your own compost pile — but the main audience was policy makers, lobbyists and economists. These are people who have already “converted” and want to enact larger changes in their sectors.

Today, I finished a 1,700 word recap of the conference, in which I realized exactly how much I care about environmentalism and going green. It’s one of my favorite things I’ve written ever, let alone abroad, so I celebrated with  macaroons and white wine with lunch (thank you, European Commission, from the bottom of my poor student journalist heart). My boss, Andy, wrote the most magnificent headline, and I’m a little jealous I didn’t come up with it myself. I just sent off a little day-turn on a new reporting on eco-decoupling (the process of separating economic growth from environmental demise), and I have a little downtime until the closing session.

I keep saying that I never want to go back to Mizzou, that I want to stay in Brussels forever. I might be dramatic, but my temper tantrum on having 66 days until I am back in America does have a streak of salient truth: I am not cut out to be a student anymore.

Maybe this is the brick wall everyone hits when they’ve been in school since 1998. Maybe I truly am being whiny and ungrateful. Maybe I need to yank myself up by the bootstraps and finish my Bachelor’s degree.

Or maybe I need to get out of the vicious cycle that has made me so anxious and depressed that I’m often afraid I’ll get kicked out before I remove myself.

Being a student journalist is not a fun time. It is usually more stress than good writing, because, more often than not, you just have too much going on to write the pieces you want to. Staff classes can transform newsrooms into battlegrounds for all the wrong reasons, turning potential collaborations into competitions.

I’ve found that when I get to dedicate myself entirely to reporting, I love it. I’m good at it, even. Even in Brussels, with class three times a week and an 7:30 a.m. alarm, I am not stressed like I am at school. When my job is to go into the newsroom, I look forward to what the day will bring.

When I am going into the newsroom while also taking a full course load, trying to keep a job, going to meetings and actually having conversations with my friends, I don’t want to get out of the bed in the morning. It overloads my system to the point where I am crying in public and trying not to scream at anyone who looks at me wrong.

But here in this hot pressroom, I am happy. I am reminded of why I started onto the path toward journalism, despite naysayers (hi, Dad) and worrywarts (hi, Mom). I am writing and enjoying writing because it is important. Not only in the subject matter I’m covering, but in its place in my life. Journalism isn’t something that fits well into the open spaces in a class schedule, interviews crammed into precious free-time between French lit and a copy desk shift.

It is a profession like any other, and deserves dedication.

Green Week grind
Green Week grind

I know that’s painfully sappy and ridiculous, but it’s how I’m feeling right now. I’m working on honesty and transparency in my emotions and blogging. No putting on faces here.


5 thoughts on “Un été à Bruxelles: The Green Week Revival

  1. Since you care about the environment and sustainability maybe you’ve heard of where I study: Masdar Institute. Check it out. Pretty cool and if you ever come over to shoot a documentary (because I feel like we’re in Hollywood with the number of cameras rolling around here) let me know…

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