Dear Brussels,

Dear Brussels,

I’ve been home for just over a week but I don’t miss you… yet.

Don’t get me wrong, you were the biggest reason for which I became a more grown and refined person over these past eight months. I was just so, so ready to come back.

Brussels, you weren’t perfect, but you were perfect for me.

You showed me multilingualism in a way that wasn’t overwhelming for me, except maybe for when the bus would announce the next stop and route connections in three languages.

You showed me culture in the most unlabelled and nonchalant way imaginable. It wasn’t something I could find by googling “Things to do in Brussels”, it was something that you motivated me to find on my own. And I’m glad that I was able to do just that.

You showed me the most beautiful and comprehensible French language accent I’ll ever hear, along with the most horrendous Flemish accent that I hope I’ll never have to hear again.

You showed me diversity in a new way; a way that was different from Toronto, but still the same in many ways. It reminded me of home.

You showed me the real meaning of a good photo-op. I’ve tried to take photos of the same allure since returning home, but I haven’t had much luck. Is that enough of an excuse to book my next flight back to you?

You showed me rain. Lots and lots of rain. But you also showed me some of the most perfect sunny days I’ll ever see and I’ll cherish them indefinitely.

Brussels, you became my home. So, with that, I give you all of my thanks.

bae

 

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Coming Home: the Airport Chronicles

6:20 AM- Alarm goes off. Wake up to messages from my mum: “ARE YOU AWAKE?! DONT YOU DARE SLEEP THROUGH THIS FLIGHT”

6:40- Scoff around my room because I packed things that I need to get ready, and the things I still need to pack don’t fit in my bags.

7:01- Cab arrives. Not ready, naturally.

7:04- Water bottle explodes as I’m carrying my 32 kilo suitcase down the stairs. Naturally.

7:06- Take one last look back at Cimetiere d’Ixelles from the taxi. It’s still not sinking in that I may not see this place again.

7:27- Arrive at airport. Taxi driver insists that I get a cart for my luggage. No sir, I GOT DIS.

7:30- *scans passport into check-in machine* *error message* *repeats 3 times before giving up*

7:38- Lady at check-in desk tells me I should move things into my carry on to make my suitcases lighter. I laugh to myself because she has no idea that my carry-on alone weighs 20kg.

7:56- Security. *oh god oh god, hurry up and get your laptop back into your bag and your shoes back on before people start judging you*

8:00- *dries off sweat*

8:08- Rejoice that I’m going back to a country where healthy, bread-free options are offered at every turn and at a decent price.

8:20- Half-hour of free wifi won’t connect. I hate airports.

8:35- Cave and pay three euros for 15 minutes of internet on one of those little booth computers, just so I can message my mum to tell her I’m still alive.

8:36- GO GO GOGOGOOO CHECK ALL THE SOCIAL MEDIA PLATFORMS

8:50- Time’s up. Now what?

8:51- Wander into the abyss of wifi-less territory in total misery.

8:53- Collapse on the ground at the gate. I’ll just lay here in my own tears until we board.

9:20- Try, to no avail, to spot my suitcases getting loaded into the plane. Man, I feel badly for whoever had to lift those. I hope they didn’t inspect them out of spite, because they definitely wouldn’t have been able to zip them back up.

9:34- Why are people lining up already? YOU HAVE ASSIGNED SEATS.

9:40- Boarding!!!!1

9:40- I’m leaving.

9:40- I REFUSE

9:53- This is not real.

10:05- Take-off.

10:11 *comatose*

11:00- “Welcome to Dublin airport AKA heaven on earth. Here’s the best wifi you’ll ever use!”

1:05- On my fourth episode of Portlandia, accompanied by copious amounts of chocolate and wifi that, no matter how much I use it, won’t expire. Do I have to get on the plane to Toronto?

1:20- I should probably get in line to board.

1:33- There’s no one in the seat beside me. *PLEASE, NOBODY SIT HERE*

1:33- *NO, GILLIAN, YOU JUST JINXED IT*

1:45- Doors are closed. Seat beside me is still empty. Assume fetal position across two seats.

1:50- *comatose*

4:04- Pre-ordering a gluten-free meal was a good idea. Eating half an hour before everybody else. HA, SUCKAAAAS!

4:30- *comatose*

4:00 (Back in EST)- *Wow, I really wish I could take a cute photo of the CN Tower out of the airplane window. Too bad I’m on the wrong side of the plane…*

4:25- *scans passport into Customs machine* *error message* *repeats 3 times before a tired employee comes over to help*

4:34- Suitcases are the first onto the belt. Probably because they were so heavy. Oh look, both of my luggage tags are gone. Airport staff are totally going to send me hate mail for having such heavy bags…

4:39- Mum’s crying.

4:45- Dad forgot where he parked the car.

4:50 PM- *comatose*

Post-travel realizations & optimizing the time I have left

I came to two interesting realizations these past couple of weeks as I travelled through several countries for Spring Break (Italy, Switzerland, Austria, and Germany!). I spent some time looking back on the trips we took during first semester, compared them to my trips this semester, and saw a lot of differences. I’ve become much more adventurous in my travelling; I’m comfortable making last-minute decisions, taking in new surroundings, and not even knowing what I’m doing at all. I’m more independent and less paranoid, in substantially better physical and mental shape and, most importantly, learned. As my expense allowance has thinned out substantially, I see myself as less of a tourist in these cities since I’m trying to live as frugally as possible. Restrictions like that, though, have made my travel so much more valuable to me. And who doesn’t love a cheap picnic?!

picnic

As excited as I am to have become a much more adventurous person than I have ever been, I think I’ve officially exhausted all of the energy that I could into this year. I’ll never, ever be finished travelling, but I’m definitely finished for now.

IMG_4939Last Seen: Wandering around the continent with a backpack that JUST fits in the overhead compartment.

I have three weeks left in this amazing city (Brussels, of course), but I have to spend most of it studying and preparing for my final presentations. I want to soak up all of the city that I can before I leave so I’ve decided to veto working in the library and spend my time at many of the city’s independent coffee shops, and perhaps take breaks at local restaurants ;). This way, I can have the best of both worlds: productivity and the city. I’ll be writing a post in the coming week about the places I visit, photos included! À bientôt. 🙂