Newcomer Q&A: Jennifer (UK)

Jennifer Rankin has just started as the Brussels correspondent for The Guardian newspaper. It’s not her first time in Brussels – but some things have changed since she was last here.

What brought you here in the first place, the first time around?

I came here in 2006 to do an internship, a journalism placement at The Economist in Brussels. I did that for three months. At the time I was looking to get into journalism, and it seemed like Brussels was a more promising option for me than staying in London, so I decided to try my hand as a freelancer in Brussels. I came back in 2007 and I ended up staying here until 2011. 

When you left, was it with a heavy heart?

I definitely did leave with a heavy heart, because by that time I’d been in Brussels for more than five years, I had a lot of friends, I felt very settled and it felt like my home. I definitely thought I’d be coming back.

What has changed since you were last here?

By far the most obvious change is the army and the police on the street. When I lived here before, you very rarely saw the army, usually only on the national holiday. But now you see pairs of soldiers walking the streets, guarding embassies, you see them outside of hotels in the city centre. So the security aspect is the biggest change, for unsurprising reasons. On a more trivial note, there seems to be more chain shops than there used to be when I was here before – Starbucks, Exki.

Which bits of Brussels do you call home?

I live near the European Quarter, and I love the parks near there. I felt very familiar with those neighbourhoods, really that's the place that feels like home to me.

Is there a sort of sense of camaraderie among journalists in Brussels?

Yes, I think there is a sense of camaraderie, and there are a number of journalists who have been in Brussels for a number of years, so there is that sense of a community of journalists. You do get thrown together at summits and meetings, so you do get to know people and there is a sense of friendliness and getting on.


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