I came home, but left a lot of my heart across the pond.
I know I KNOW y’all are tired of hearing that I miss Europe. But I do. A ton. And this blog is my party so I’ll cry if I want to.
What exactly am I crying about? Here’s an itemized list!
- BREAD: There was a certain period of time that I said I would fill my luggage with bread when I went home. That passed because I realized that I love my clothes too much but seriously the bread in Europe was insanely delicious. On several occasions I stopped by Delhaize on a Friday afternoon for groceries and would leave ripping my warm baguette from the bag as I walked. So darn good. Also, shout out to Hanna Knutson for always being the one to ask “Is there free bread?” at restaurants across the continent. You are the real MVP.
- Haribo Golden Bears- I’m a bit of a candy fiend. I’ve been getting into candy-related trouble since the third grade when I stole my sisters’ Halloween candy (it was a dark period in my life, and I don’t think I’ll ever escape my reputation as The Candy Thief). In my daily life, I try to avoid candy altogether because I’m an addict and there’s no such thing as “moderation” between me and refined sugars. But in Belgium, I faced my biggest tempter yet: authentic Haribo Golden Bears. These little treats are addictive in the US, but something about the Belgian version (perhaps the proximity to their birthplace, Bonn) was no match for my self-control. I went through at least a bag a week.
- The architecture: Walking from my apartment to Place Flagey, there was a certain point where an old church came into view. It’s not a particularly attractive landmark, but for some reason whenever I saw it I took a minute to think “Wow, I’m really here.” I got a similar feeling as I looked out the train window when traveling to and from small towns in Belgium, counting the dozens of little chapels that dot the countryside. I could sense the depth of history behind each casually-placed structure. For locals, I’m sure these buildings are just stacks of old bricks, but they continually made my heart swell.
- Accents: I was abroad for so long that I guess I stopped noticing foreign accents and became more sensitive to hearing American accents. Now that I’ve had my feet firmly on US soil for a few weeks, every time I hear a European accent my heart hurts a little. For some reason words are just so much more interesting when they don’t sound like my own.
- European style: Europeans just know how to dress. Even when wearing sweatpants they still looked cooler than I think I ever will.
- Walking: I can say with a high degree of certainty that I would have gained 30 lbs this semester had it not been for all of the walking. I remember when my parents flew to BXL at the end of my program and I gave them a walking tour of the city, they almost couldn’t keep up. This is shocking because they’re both in excellent shape and I’m boasting a pair of grade-A chicken legs. Yet an entire semester of romping around different European cities on foot (mainly out of stinginess) made me into an excellent walker. Now I feel like a dingus as I get in my car every morning and drive one mile in three minutes to my internship.
- Public transportation: Don’t get me wrong, I missed my car, Satan (named affectionately), a lot. He’s the only one who ever gets to hear me sing. But gas costs money and parking is hard and sometimes I find myself wanting to hop on the 71 Delta bus.
- Euros: Seriously, America, why is our money so boring? I want colorful bills. And I want deceptive $1 and $2 coins that make me feel like I’m not spending as much as I am.
- The ability to run away for the weekend: I keep getting email marketing from RyanAir and Vueling telling me how easy it is to get to another city this weekend! Ha ha…maybe if I had a couple grand to spare. Which after five months at an unpaid internship, I most certainly do not.
- Confidence: I know it’s cliché, but studying abroad did have a profound, lasting impact on my character. I’ve always been pretty introverted, and I’ve always enjoyed existing inside my comfort zone. But from the moment I hit the tarmac in Brussels in January, I began to transform into someone who isn’t afraid to speak up, isn’t afraid to take a leadership position, isn’t afraid to walk up to a stranger for whatever reason, and most importantly, isn’t afraid to stand alone in the middle of a bustling city. I’ve found that having settled back into my comfort zone in the past couple weeks, I feel that confidence a lot less, but that’s just motivation to get back out there and see the world ASAP.
As with my Belgian one, this isn’t exhaustive. I miss so many things that it’d be insulting if I tried to put them on a single post.
I miss ya terribly, Europe. But I’ll be back!