Contracting in Brussels


My new contract has taken me to Brussels…home of the EU (I’m visting some of the sleazier spots of Brussels in the hopes of spotting Peter Mandelson!), home of NATO and also home to a little boy in the middle of the city takin a waz! The little boy takin a waz, is in fact the most reknown symbol of Brussels. I have yet to find out his significance. So I’m working for MasterCard as a cryptographic applications software engineer and working on the development of new and emerging card payment systems. It’s all very interesting, from a technical point of view, and was only mildly surprised to discover that the most valued and highly (and unbelieveably highly) guarded asset turns out to be a few numbers, straight up!, you could fire off a few nuclear missiles easier than getting at those numbers. So other than I can’t say any more, if I did I’d have to……………..blah blah blah! Anyway, before I arrived there was quite alot to sort out, research arrange etc, ranging from Belgian taxation, researching the area I was going to work in, finding somewhere to live, understanding the Belgian rental system, driving routes between work and home, arranging flights, weekend and week day parking, belgian bank accounts and so on. This was all done, pretty much over the internet. So whats your point I hear you ask, well thats the point. I was idlely musing about the internet and wondering exactley how I would have done all this pre-internet days. I had no answer, I guess I wouldn’t have done it. It [working abroad] wouldn’t have been an option in those days, not belonging to some big multi-national who would have arranged all this for me. Perhaps the biggest effect of the internet, I thought then, was to make the world smaller, and it’s done so in such an elegantly subtle way, that most times you just don’t realise it. So whats it like, well after the initial shock has worn off, and you’ve shaken those feelings that your on holiday [cause everyone speaks a foreign language, and its almost always hot, and the money’s funny, and they drive on the wrong side of the road], it’s much like working anywhere really. Offices are offices the world over and people in offices are people in offices the world over. So, after all that, I’m actually enjoying the experience. There’s just one thing I absolutely can’t get used to, and that’s crossing the road as a pedestrian. Driving on the wrong side is fine, but it’s hardwired into my brain that you look right then left as your cross the road [I am from the UK!]. Now, I have to consciously mutter to myself as I approach the road that I “must” look left then right as I cross. Still looking like I have tourettes syndrome is better than being splattered by a crazy belgian motorist on his way to look at the little boy takin a waz!

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Phil Harding

SharePoint Consultant, Developer, Father, Husband and Climber.

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