By the time I left for Brussels, I was admittedly tired of being in Philadelphia. Due to the nature of Drexel, I’d been there for two years straight with few chances to go home and I wanted to get out of the city for a little while. I was so excited and starry eyed when I first arrived! I still believe I am but the midway point fatigue can also get you down some days. Here are some things I’ve found that I miss and how I combat that longing until December comes along:
- Fast Food Cravings
Here is a sad fact about Brussels: there is little to no Mexican food here. I had been to Europe before, and learned the sad reality about the lack of burritos a while back, but it really hurts when I just can’t find one. There are so many foods that I crave but I can’t my hands on here and this is an eternal struggle I face as a foodie.
In the end, I just think about some of the great foods I’ve had here that I’ll surely be missing by the time I go back home. Durums, a delicious burrito alternative full of chicken, veggies and french fries, are a late night staple I may struggle to find in America. The bread and pastries here are out of this world and I definitely will miss grabbing a 75 cent almond croissant from Carrefoure. I am learning to appreciate European cuisine and I anticipate my palette will have greatly changed by the time I head home.
It’s easy to see everyone’s social media posts or hear stories from friends back home and feel like you’re missing so much. I’m super jealous of all the Drexel Dragons who will be seeing Walk the Moon, one of my favorite bands, FOR FREE this Fall Term! I’m also bummed that I’m missing my friend’s Halloween party next weekend. There all kinds of cool events and fun memories that I don’t get to be a part of due to my absence from campus. You don’t need to sugarcoat it, FOMO sucks!
It helps me when I think of all the cool things I’m doing myself that I’m sure people may be jealous. Not in a gloating way, but rather to remind me that the grass is always greener on the other side. Besides, we will have so many great conversations filling each other in on what happened while we didn’t see each other.
- My GPA
I’ll admit this one is kind of silly. Back home, I’m much more of a homebody and focus all my time on school or work with any fun activities shoved to the tail end of the week. Since I’m only here for a short while, I split my time up much more between fun and schoolwork. So despite my grades being fine, I still do sometimes worry about my GPA while on my fun excursions with friends.
I just have to keep reminding myself that the experiences I’m having are equally as important as my grades while I’m here. I’ve also started using them as motivators for getting work done early instead of procrastinating. Want to go to that flea market downtown? Finish your reading notes, then! Have a weekend trip to Prague planned? Then you better get started on that essay right now! Instead of putting off work and being stressed during fun times, it’s much better to use those fun times as a reward for staying on the grind and getting my stuff done. That way, I get the best of both worlds!
- Culture Fatigue
Some days, all the differences between America and Brussels are super charming. Other days, small things frustrate or grate on me. This is actually one of the stages of culture shock and though a lot of people try to make it seem like something that will just disappear after a few weeks, I feel like culture shock comes in waves. When I first got to Brussels, I had zero feelings of being out of place or overwhelmed by my environment. The sentiment comes and goes but when it’s there, it can definitely dampen my mood.
I always like to think about how I will feel looking back on this trip in the future. When I went on my first intensive study abroad trip to Berlin, I hated it! I didn’t feel like I had any fun while I was there due to the intensity of the culture shock I experienced (it was my first real trip out of the states). However, when I tell people about that time, I almost always have a funny or positive story to tell. I know that when I leave, all the bad times will fall out of my memory and the great experiences I’ve had will be the most prominent ones in my mind.
And I always say to myself, “Hey, even if you’re having a hard day, you’re having a hard day in Europe!” This always manages to bring a smile to my face.