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Zhang Yuan's column on what he learned about Europe from his trip to Belgium



Zhang Yuan

JTBC 'Abnormal Summit' panelist


Column: [Abnormal Eyes of Zhang Yuan] I learned how to understand others from my first Europe trip to Belgium

I went to Julian's home country Belgium for JTBC's new show 'Where Is My Friend's Home'. I was excited because it was my first trip to Europe.The more I got to know Europe, the more it felt new. During the first episodes of 'Abnormal Summit', the panelists I couldn't understand the most were Europeans like Belgium's Julian and France's Robin. I didn't think their thoughts were suitable for the society's development because they were too progressive and unrealistic. I wondered what kind of education they got to have that mindset. This trip to Europe was kind of a chance to answer my question.

Before I left, I heard that Belgian people disliked blue because it symbolizes 'evil', and that they kiss on someone's head to show respect. But when I was actually in the country, it was different. Some of their old traditions and cultural aspects were gone. Not just Asia, but Europe had also constantly been under the change. I realized that I was wrongly accepting false things as true despite that I was considering myself to be progressive and objective. Instead of going around places, I made up stereotypes of people just by reading books, newspaper, and from what people say.

Belgium is said to be the most open-minded country in the world. Because of that, I expected the country to be in chaos and out of order. But while Belgium was loud, there was order and passion in their loudness. While they stressed their own opinions, they also listened to others' opinions. They were well-mannered and always active. My first impression on Julian was that he was too loud. But as I got to know him, I found his modesty and manners inside him. I think this is a common characteristic of Belgian people. Belgian people tolerate every culture. The minority of them was too conservative or the opposite.

Usually, people are against the things they hate or they don't understand. And they want the world to function in the way they want. Social development brings conflicts, fights, and hypocrisy. Belgium's response to this is to understand and be patient as much as possible. If some things are not understandable to them, they decide not to care or avoid further conflicts. This allows the cause of potential conflicts to disappear and they can hear out other opinions. We need to be able to listen and wait all the time. This attitude will bring harmonious development to the society. Because Europe had learned their lessons from hundreds of years of wars, it's certain that their way of dealing with cultural differences is advanced.

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