Un été à Bruxelles: Leaving home for home again

My last two days in Europe were a whirlwind of modes of transportation and praying for wifi and not eating nearly enough and napping with my head down on a table in the cafe of the Louvre. My last meal in Europe was a divine plate of mashed potatoes and duck+mushrooms. My last coffee in Europe was a Starbucks chai latte while hiding out from a homeless Scottish gypsy in the train station.

I came home. My suitcase was lost for 48 hours, then showed up in Kansas City. I opened Vine. I opened Instagram. I packed up all my belongings (of which there are entirely too many) and moved 3.5 miles into my new apartment with my best friends. I turned 21. I went grocery shopping. I repainted my nails.

I stared at my keyboard, willing a post-Brussels blog post to appear, full of insight and jokes and carefully crafted metaphors. It didn’t. I opened Facebook. I opened Twitter. I read about Ferguson with an aching heart. I wrote a post Robin Williams. I ate two bags of Beanitos chipotle bbq chips in one day. I opened up WordPress again.

In all reality, I will never be able to write a wrap-up. The experience was simply too big to encompass in a blog. It needs a memoir (hi, Brussels fam). I don’t know how I managed to sum up my Alaska experience in a blog post (To be fair, Brussels was a lot less of a magical nature haven than Alaska in the summer).

From the outside, my schedule doesn’t seem like it would lead to an amazing summer. I got up every morning around 8:30 (okay…closer to 8:55 on most days). I put on one of five shirts I brought to Brussels (the perils of packing light). I got an Americano. I got on the metro. I went to work. I went to lunch (and ate in the park with Adam).  I went back to work. I got on the metro. I picked up peppers and tomatoes at the veggie stand. I got home. I made dinner. Shannon and I listened to music and discussed our days. We lounged around. I had tea. I went to bed.

It sounds boring when I type it out like that, but there were surprises every day. Sometimes we would go to a bar to catch a World Cup game. Sometimes we went downtown after dinner for waffles in Grand Place. Sometimes we had frites for dinner instead of actual nourishment.

We traveled. We visited Antwerp and Bruges and Ghent and Leuven. I went to Barcelona, napped on the beach, explored the beautiful Park Güell and drank too much wine. I went to Paris, napped next to the Seine, ate delicious sushi and fell in love.

We explored the city of Brussels itself, finding coffee spots and book shops and jewelry stores. We met locals and coworkers, forging friendships in (sometimes broken) French and English. We took naps. We drank beer. We went dancing.

It was such a refreshing change of pace from the madness of the school semester. I was happy and well-adjusted and good. 

I miss Brussels a lot. I am happy to be in my new apartment, happy to see my roommates, happy to reconnect with friends, happy to have phone data — but I know the transition into school in 10 days is going to be a bumpy one. I am going to be fighting to be back at my metro stop or napping in the park with friends.

Brussels was simply better for me. It was life with breathing, even when it took my breath away.

I know this is a cop-out of a blog post. I know it doesn’t reach the big picture of “what Brussels meant to me.” But words just aren’t falling into place. I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to write it down.

I can’t type it out, but I can tell you all about it if we sit down for a little while. Do you know anywhere in Columbia that sells frites?


4 thoughts on “Un été à Bruxelles: Leaving home for home again

  1. I get it. It’s like so much happened. That you’re different and on one level things back home seem the same. That happens to me a lot when I’ve been traveling.

    1. It’s such a common theme, it seems. The reverse culture shock of coming back to America is way worse and way more gut-wrenching than the transition to Europe, in my opinion.

  2. This was a wonderful post to read; I have just started a year abroad in Belgium and I already know that I will feel this way myself when the time comes to leave. Beautifully written, thank you.

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