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

 

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*

As I approach a bittersweet closure…

I know, I know, it’s been forever and a half! Since getting back from Ireland I’ve spent all of my energy getting back into a healthier routine (as I talked about in my last post!) and I must say, I’m feeling pretty darn great! So, here’s a few updates:

There’s no denying that our trip to Ireland for St. Patrick’s Day weekend was our most highly-anticipated trip of the year, and for good reason! We booked it in October knowing that if we waited any longer we would lose our opportunity to experience the greatest party in one of the most beautiful countries in the world.

I survived the trip, despite getting very little sleep (a full night in an airport to boot) and a horrible cough/nose issue that came on the day we arrived. Ireland was two weeks ago, so since then I’ve been getting my life back together and regaining my productivity before I head off again on another trip tomorrow!

Getting back into a routine always proves difficult no matter the circumstances, but something that’s made it even more of a challenge is that I’m already starting to get my life together at home for when I go back in a month’s time. I’ve been applying for volunteer positions and internships, getting my cell phone plan sorted out, and (the worst part, folks) figuring out how I’m going to get all of my stuff home……

Having things come together at home, though, is helping me to wrap my head around the fact that my exchange is slowly but surely coming to an end. Despite how amazing this year has been, I know that I’ll soon be ready to see all of my family and friends and make the transition back to “real life”. The transition shouldn’t be too difficult, though maybe quite drastic; I start my Summer courses less than 48 hours after my plane lands!

On the whole, my feelings could be accurately described as bittersweet. I leave tomorrow on my last trip out of Belgium for the year, so I need to make it the best adventure yet. I’m heading to Rome, Florence, and Pisa with Meena, and Zurich, Salzburg, Vienna, and Berlin with Jon, a friend and Glendon alum!

À bientôt, friends; I’ll be sure to capture all of the next two weeks’ greatest moments to share with you very soon!