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.




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?!


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. 🙂

“We’re all a little bit lost here.”

Last week I had a great time at the Brussels Twestival (Twitter Festival), held at Munt Punt Library in the city centre! The afternoon was filled with great speakers and panel discussions about social media, new media, journalism, storytelling; the list goes on and on. I met some really great people, had wonderful conversation and drank a really great latte provided by one of my favourite cafés in Brussels: Karsmakers.

The most noteworthy of presenters for me was Derek Blyth, a British author who has lived in Belgium for the last twenty or some-odd years. What I loved about his discussion was his non-chalant, natural way of speaking to his audience, and knowing that he’s the kind of guy who would be genuinely pleased to read this and see that he was my favourite presenter of the day.

Derek spoke freely and unrehearsed about how much he loves living in Brussels. It was refreshing, since most expats (foreigners living here) think that Brussels is a huge bore and that there’s nothing to do here. And then something cool happened: he said exactly what I just said one line above. To paraphrase:

“We’re all a little bit lost here,” he said, “but Brussels is not boring. So…” he paused. “I decided to write a book.”

Derek talked about his book, The 500 Hidden Secrets of Brussels, like it was his child. His publishers had no hope for the book, which has now sold almost ten thousand copies and is in its third edition. The book is exactly what its title suggests: a list of 500 of the coolest things to see, do, and eat in Brussels that you probably wouldn’t find in any Brussels guidebook. He told us sternly that if we were going to buy the book, to do so at a small bookshop in the city centre such as Sterling or Waterstones (this was for obvious reasons, of course). “Everything you do in Brussels has an impact. When you buy something on Amazon you are not playing a part in the life of the city,” he added.

So I went out to Sterling Books four days later and bought the book. Duh. I spent the night flipping through it and adding new places to my post-it note lists of things to do in Brussels. I got excited when I came across something on the list that I had already done. I’d highly suggest to any expats in Brussels who have stumbled upon this post to consider adding this book to their collection. You’ll definitely find some new things to discover in the city, as rainy as it may be!

The same day I bought Derek Blyth’s book, we also went to the Brussels Vintage Market and the Christmas Market for a little wander. I loved the vintage market and found some really great pieces while Meena made jokes about its “old lady smell”. I can’t take her anywhere!

Since then I’ve found myself in crunch-mode to get my final essays finished before I go back home to Canada for the holidays, but I still have time for the finer things like doing my nails and trying out new recipes!

T-minus ten days until I’m heading home, and I could not be more excited! That said, however, I can’t wait to start a new chapter of exchange in January, full of travelling, discoveries, and school… I guess. 🙂

À bientôt!