Tuesday – the day to visit the Commission headquarters. Dare I call the building huge? Recently renovated, very clean and sterile – long bare hallways with some attempts to decorate the place with paintings here and there. They have a sauna somewhere too – thanks to Erkki Liikanen. We were up to the commissioners’ floor and based on what we saw, it wasn’t particularly fancy. No wasting money on external extravaganza.
The people we met were really nice, especially P from Legal Services and H from the General Secretary. They had lunch with us in the commission’s cafeteria, which was big, effective and cheap. I ate well with only 3.04 €. In general we have eaten extremely well on this trip. This far (written on Wednesday – see how you can cheat when editing your text later) – full points go to the mozzarella-avocado salad at L’Ultime Atome – excellent place, will recommend it to everyone, situated by the church of S’Boniface near a fascinating African quarter – and the hors d’oeuvres at the Greek restaurant we were at with the representatives of Seula (Finnish EU-lawyers) on Tuesday evening. Lovely.
After the lunch our boys went to the war museum. I’ve been trying to remember whether P said already at the lunch that they were going to do that or whether it was H who told us that when we came from the ladies’ room and the boys had already gone. The difference between whether we had the possibility to go along or not. I had a good day and I am not hundred percent sure I would have gone anyway, since girl-bonding is important too, but history and war... History and war as compared to shopping wins always, with flying colours; history and war as compared to girl-bonding, that depends on the situation.
One of the guys – I heard later – also had remarked something along the lines of “women prefer shopping to museums anyway” (as a reason for not asking us, because if we heard about them going beforehand, it was P who said it in passing and not one of them), and I’m not sure whether I ought to be upset about the comment. I wasn’t when I heard about it, since I took it as a joke. But what if it wasn’t a joke? Do I still have a right to be upset? I mean, it is entirely possible – even probable – that most women DO prefer shopping to going to a war museum – or any museum for that matter. My preferred way of spending the afternoon would have actually also been a visit to the art museum, not the war one. But anyway, if something is true, is it a stereotype? Am I upset – I think I am a little upset after all, right or no – because someone might think of me as a stereotype? Would not acknowledge my individuality, the fact that despite being female I could get far greater kicks out of a war museum than going through shops? Am I upset at women, because they prefer shopping to museums? Am I upset because of my own prejudices; preferring a more gender-neutral society? Am I upset at my own femininity? That I would choose girl-bonding over going to a museum? I did after all choose it instead of going to a museum of any kind.
Okay, this goes under the never-ending identity-debate, which is probably better done somewhere else than here. This journal is turning out to be completely different from what I had originally planned. Where is my light, witty, slightly EU-critical account? Nowhere! Where is anything connected to the trip anyway? This could almost be inner contemplation penned down in a bus coming from a seminar in our own faculty.