It was sometime in July, I was on vacation with my parents in Mallorca. My parents looked at me and asked what my plan was and what I wanted to study. And I answered, ‘‘I have no idea’’. I remember my mother telling me ‘’you should do what you love, that’s most important to us and that’s what’s going to make you happy!’’.
I spent my whole summer thinking about my future and my passion, until suddenly, I thought back to the time that we moved from Cape Verde to Portugal. I was 10 years old and it was my first time on a plane and my first time seeing a flight attendant. I was mesmerised and since then I told my parents that I wanted to become a flight attendant and travel the world.
But I wanted the knowledge about different countries, cultures and languages. So, I started researching what options I had, and I found the webpage of the Erasmus University College and started reading the information about the Tourism programme. I thought immediately and without second guessing ‘’This is what I’m going to study!’’.
‘’You should do what you love, that’s the most important to us and that’s what’s going to make you happy!’’.
There I was, sitting on the train on my way to class for the first time, and of course I was nervous. I didn’t know what to expect and whether I would like Brussel. I was so nervous because I had never been to Brussels by myself. My dad always drove me and my sister when we went shopping. I never even had the interest of knowing Brussels. I was used to going to Antwerp, Bruges and Hasselt with friends and by myself, but never to Brussels. Why did I choose to study in Brussels? I mainly wanted to get out of my comfort zone and study in another city. And it’s the best decision that I’ve ever made. I get the meet amazing people that I can now call friends. I get to discover Brussels daily.
The first 2 weeks weren’t easy. I didn’t know my way around Brussels. It took me forever to get to school from the Central Station. I didn’t know yet that there was a short cut, so I walked for more than 20 minutes to get to school. One day, my friend and I walked together to the Central Station and I immediately thought ‘’aren’t we going the wrong way?’’, but I said nothing and we passed the Grand-Place. I’ve been there before multiple times, we continued walking and talking. Before I knew, we were at the Central Station. I was extremely grateful because I was starting to get tired of the long walks to school. Ever since, I have been taking the short cut to school. I could take the train to Brussels South and then take the subway, but I prefer to walk because it’s a way to discover and see more. The best time to go to the Grand-place is in the morning, there are almost zero tourists and you can just freely take pictures and walk around.
It was – and still is – an interesting experience, taking the train to my first class. I saw so many different cultures, tourists walking around. Different small shops, cafes and restaurants. I remember coming home and my parents asking me how my day went, and I had a lot to tell. Brussels is a vibrant city, where you never get bored. There is always something new to discover and now I spend more time in Brussels than in Leuven. Even during the weekends, you’ll find me most of the time in Brussels. Just going for a drink or getting a bite to eat.
My friends and I can’t wait until summer starts so that we can walk around more, enjoying the sun and discovering new places to chill, grabbing something to eat. I always feel like there is so much more to see in Brussels and I can’t wait to discover them all. I’m not afraid anymore to step out of my comfort zone and experience new things thanks to Brussels. I don’t see myself studying anywhere else, Brussel is like a second home now. I’m proud to say that I now know my way around Brussels, of course there’s a lot that I don’t know yet, but it won’t take long until I’ll know Brussels as well as I know Leuven.
It’s weird, now that I’m thinking about it, Leuven and Brussels aren’t far from each other and you would expect people to know a lot about it, but most people don’t. Most of my friends in Leuven only go to Brussels to shop or to go out. They never think about taking a day trip and just walking around the city and playing tourist. I asked them why and they told me ‘’when I think of Brussels, I make the link with shopping or going out clubbing”. For a day trip, they would head for to Bruges and Ghent. I thought the same at the beginning, but my perspective has changed and I see Brussels in a very different way now. I will take my friends on a day trip around Brussels and show them what Brussels has to offer other than shopping and clubbing.
‘’when I think of Brussels, I make the link with shopping or going out clubbing”
If you’re someone who is afraid to step out of your comfort zone, you should just do it! Because that’s when you’ll discover the most interesting things and get to know new people. If you stay in your bubble, then you’ll never experience life as you should. There is so much to discover, so many foods to taste, different cultures to learn about and different types of people to meet. I’m grateful that I stepped out of my comfort zone and got to experience new things, not only in Brussels, but in other cities and countries as well. Can’t wait for my next discoveries in Brussels!