Lockdown chat #2
Welcome to back Lockdown Chat, a series where we interview our team about life and work in the time of corona. This month marks a year of working remotely for the staff of the European Youth Forum and we wanted to sit down with our colleagues and have a chat. You know, as we did before at the coffee machine.
For the second edition, we spoke to Benjamin De Moor. After starting his new job in the middle of the pandemic, Benjamin has only ever met his team virtually - so how is he finding life at the Youth Forum?
Hi, Benjamin! Can you tell us what you do at the European Youth Forum?
I'm a digital designer, so I design stuff.
That's pretty straightforward. What would you do on a normal day?
I open Slack and see what emergencies have popped up that I have to design solutions for. If there are none, I focus on my long-term projects, like updating our visual branding identity or redeveloping the website and newsletter.
What did you do before coming to the European Youth Forum?
I did a master’s degree in graphic design, information design and media. After that, I did an internship at Josworld, a creative agency, which later hired me. Then I moved on to freelance work for many different companies and organizations in Belgium.
Is it your first experience working in a European context?
Well, yes and no. I worked for Josworld and we had a lot of European organisations as our clients, but I never had that many colleagues from all over Europe. I worked mostly with Belgian people.
Do you see any difference working in a more European environment?
I think the European environment is more diverse. There is a lot to discover and learn, many new experiences. That is as valuable as the work itself.
As you know, most of our staff are expats in your country. Is there a cliché about Belgium that annoys you the most?
The cliché about waffles! I just don't understand where it comes from! There’s nothing so special about waffles and we don't eat them all the time. I don't understand why, internationally, everybody talks about Belgium as the country of waffles!
They are tasty here though. Anything else?
Yes, when Trump said that Brussels is a hellhole!
Since you are Belgian, did you study in Belgium as well?
Yeah, I studied at LUCA School of Arts in Brussels. And before that, I studied Philosophy in Leuven. Leuven is a really cool city for students. We often say that we have the biggest bar in the world. There is a big square that is lined only with bars. Leuven's a very fun place when you are young. But I'm starting to feel too old for that sort of life. Occasionally, though, I still do play as a DJ in some bars there, like Café Belge.
Oh, you are a DJ? What kind of music do you play?
High energy, good vibes, disco-funk, house! The kind that makes you want to dance and feel good about yourself.
With the pandemic, can you still play?
In the beginning, I did online live streams and they worked well. I had some nice interactions with my friends! But in the end, it is not the same experience, so I stopped.
Do you have any other hobbies?
Yes, I also launched a clothing brand with a friend. It’s called ‘Walter & Benjamin’.
Give yourself as a student one piece of advice!
Go for what you want to do, especially in a creative field. I was more creative when I stopped trying to figure out what I wanted. Don't doubt yourself, find your own way and follow what feels good.
With the coronavirus going on, how do you pass time outside of work?
I downloaded ‘Age of Empire II’. It’s a video game I played as a teenager. Playing it makes me feel nostalgic. I did notice that it's less magical than when I was a kid. But yeah, for the rest, it's pretty boring. Besides that, I started looking into the investment world.
What do you mean by the investment world?
How it works. How to invest. Cryptocurrencies as well. I like the idea behind blockchains and decentralisation. It comes with risks, but there are many opportunities as well.
When the coronavirus is over, what is the first thing you want to do?
Have a beer in a bar!
What did you learn from all this ‘working remotely’?
Working from home all the time can be boring. Your routine can be really weird. It also raises questions. When does work start or stop? Where are the boundaries between work and free time when you sit before the same screen all day long?