I’m writing this on the 9.45 train from Brussels to Amsterdam. I’ve never been to Amsterdam before and, I’ve got to say, I’m really looking forward to it. I went to Rotterdam several weeks ago – and loved it – but it’s so exciting that I’m finally getting to visit the Dutch capital. That’s the great thing about Brussels though; it’s so easy to travel elsewhere as it’s just that well connected.
Brussels was my first choice when I decided to go on Erasmus. I’ve been asked why so often since I arrived and my honest answer is actually because of Brexit. What a time to be a British person in Brussels at the moment! Politically, everything is so up in the air; and politics is one thing that absolutely fascinates me. (I should probably point out though that however much it interests me, Brexit also greatly saddens me).
But anyway, I’m about three-quarters of the way through my time here and I can honestly say, going on Erasmus is one of the best decisions I’ve made in my life. More than just the heart of the EU, it is such a beautiful and underrated city. One of my favourite places has got to be the Grand Place (Grote Markt in Dutch) – it is especially beautiful at the moment in the lead up to Christmas.
Not only have I learned so much about Belgian life, I’ve also found out loads about the cultures of other countries. Before I came to Brussels, I’d never had such an international group of friends. And honestly, this has been my absolute favourite thing about going on Erasmus. The people I’ve met here, who I otherwise wouldn’t have met, are some of the most incredible people I know. Despite being from different countries, we all clicked really fast and always manage to have a laugh whenever we see each other. The international community here is definitely what I’m going to miss the most.
And, as I’m sat here on the train to Amsterdam, I know how lucky I am that I’ve had opportunities to travel. Seeing other Belgian cities – Ghent, Waterloo and Tournai – was absolutely amazing. Each city has its own uniqueness and, even though they’re in the same country, they have their own sense of culture. (Although, Flanders and Wallonia are very different areas)!
And of course, both Paris and Rotterdam were lovely. It was great being able to return to Paris again after eight and a half years! I’m sure Amsterdam will be incredible too!
The most interesting thing, though, is that I almost didn’t come on Erasmus. The whole idea kind of scared me and I began to make excuses for why I wouldn’t be able to go. But now I’m here, I know I would have regretted it if I hadn’t gone.
I have just over a month left on Erasmus and I already know that I’ll miss Brussels so much. There have been so many challenges and things I’ve found difficult, but I’ve always dealt with them one way or another. And, without wanting it to sound like a cliché, these challenges have definitely made me better at dealing with problems. But despite them, I’ve genuinely had the most incredible time of my life. And I know that the whole experience will benefit me throughout the rest of my life.