When living in Belgium
I met wonderful people and this might be the best thing I keep from all that time up there. If you ask me I would not live there again (it was a constant battle lau vs. weather) but I always say I do not regret it at all because I met true friends and one in particular, who became like a sister
in no-time. Anne
was the first person I met there and from the very first day we became quite inseparable. Super different from each other but sharing interests
in language-learning, discovering places, music, tv series (yes we had a specific day of the week to meet and watch Gossip Girl), we became best friends
and spent the whole year in Ghent
(and traveling neighbouring countries) sharing our best and worst moments -always with a cup of coffee/tea and snacks (we were sooo unable to stop eating junk).
Luckily we took care of not losing contact thanks to Facebook and Whatsapp since she continued changing countries and I went back to Barcelona (I know I owe you a visit). I was always fascinated by the amount of languages that surrounded Anne, both in her personal and professional lives, and I remembered we had different fashion interests but she was always true to a Hepburn basis, so I thought why not interviewing my dear friend -a combination of languages and fashion? Two of the things that interest me the most and are also basis of malibluemymind.
You’ve lived in different countries during different important moments of your life. What’s the best and worst you take from each? (Spain/Belgium/Germany/Luxembourg)?
Indeed, each country represents a different stage and I experienced it differently. Spain is partly my home where I intend to come back in the future. There are tons of good things about living in Spain, of course: people and enthusiasm, the life quality, the lively culture, the bar culture and of course the tapas! :). From my experience in Ghent (Belgium) and Heidelberg (Germany), I keep fond memories from the many wonderful people I met and still keep in touch with. I was exposed to different languages and cultural perspectives which fostered my interest in further pursuing my education abroad. As for Luxembourg, the high cultural and linguistic diversity on the daily basis. Everyone is international! On a less positive note, I think that in Spain there is some place for improvement in bureaucracy… . And from Belgium, Germany and Luxembourg, the weather is definitely not the best I take :). I sometimes find myself planning my weekends depending on the weather.
As an avid language learner, what impact had all the languages you speak in your life?
I think the languages we speak have an impact, to a certain extent, on the way we understand and interpret other cultures. There is a lot of research conducted in the field of multilingualism and the deeply rooted relationship between language and culture. I myself explored this topic in my Master’s thesis. In my case I would say that the command of different languages helps me better understand the culture that comes with the language. Also, the more languages we speak the easier it is to learn other languages and make connections between them. For example, I’m currently learning Swedish, and thanks to my knowledge of German, I can ‘guess’ the meaning of quite many terms without even learning them and this is due to the Germanic language roots shared by Swedish and German.
True to Katherine Hepburn style, how would you say your fashion sense/style has evolved over the years? Do you think it has to do with our jobs, friends, environment, city, etc.?
Fashion is a means of self-expression, so indeed I think the way I perceived style might have been shaped by my environment, city, jobs, situation, etc. I have found myself many times, and I think many women, saying ‘I have absolutely nothing to wear’. But really? Is that so? For me at least, this statement translates into ‘I have nothing to wear that communicates the right message for today’ because in the end, style is a dialogue and so it was for the legendary K. Hepburn. The important thing, is if the style is in line with my beliefs and the message I want to transmit. In general, Hepburn’s style inspired my personal style in terms of simplicity, classic design and masculine looks and I carved out my personal style adapting it to current trends. It always depends on the period but lately I found my style in brands such as Massimo Dutti or Uterque that connect with an independent and urban public.
Best city you’ve visited and thought you could make a life there (and cultural differences you noticed)?
I’ve visited several beautiful cities, but Stockholm is one of the cities that I could see myself living in the future, apart from the multilingual and multicultural Luxembourg where I’m living at the moment :). Besides the vibrancy of the city with stunning landscapes, nature activities including beautiful forests and other plenty of things to do from cultural experiences to design, fashion, architecture and restaurants, I noticed that there is an emphasis on the work-life balance and health and the fact that solidarity and quality is valued in the work life. The Swedish culture seems to be based on the term ‘lagom’ which refers to avoiding extremes and fostering tolerance and egalitarianism. Besides, English is widely very well spoken and I think I could make my life there without speaking proper Swedish. There are many factors to consider before moving to a new city, but Stockholm has convinced me on both personal and professional levels.
How would you describe fashion styles in different countries you’ve lived in?
Fashion styles communicate ideas and can offer a fairly interesting descraption of the culture of a country. However, It’s quite complex to describe the fashion style in different countries as it can have different classifications based on gender, age groups, urban versus rural environments, social groups, etc. In general, I would say in Spain we do take care of what we wear, we want to look ‘nice’. However, you can find different styles. From Belgium, I mostly remember their flair of originality combining many different layers and nice tied scarves. They also have a tendency for vintage. The German style tends to be fairly laid-back with more colorful looks and quite many jeans. Lastly, fashion styles in Luxembourg can’t really be defined. There is a very mixed fashion style.
I owe Anne a visit in Luxembourg since 2013/4 when she came to Bcn
I know (though I secretly hope she thinks of Barcelona the same way she thinks of Stockholm and one day will settle in my beautiful city so we can be closer). Ladies here is a true traveler and settler, who has lived and experienced many countries and languages, engaging with each
(unlike some lau who was always cursing the northern weather and finding excuses not to go out in Belgium), Hepburn is a linguist who will for sure make a name in the world of linguistics and multiculturalism
I have many friends I made in Belgium who continued changing jobs and countries
while experiencing different cultures and ways of life (while I kept promoting Barcelona as if it was Heaven itself) so I thought about interviewing them about how their lives have changed and evolved over the years
. Their stories are super interesting and all of them involve language insights, culture shock, and many interesting issues.