A Weekend in Brussels

img_9994

If you’re living in Europe, one of the best ways (and most fun ways!) to get to Brussels is train. I really like Thaley’s train, as they do something called Tick Up, where you can hop on a train to Brussels for 29. It’s really quite handy and wonderful, if your train is actually on time and not over an hour late and you end up missing your train to Brussels like I did. (Yay, France and your late, late trains.)

Where to Stay

Youth Hostel Van Gogh

This is where my roommate and I stayed. While the rooms weren’t A+, the location and the main areas of the hostel are spectacular. The location is very central to everything you’d want to walk to in Brusselslike Grand Place and delicious, delicious waffles.

1

Made in Louise

Literally steps away from Brussels city centre, this hotel is gorgeous and offers anything and everything you need.

Where to Eat

1
Image courtesy of Trends Shaker

Maison Dandoy

Yes, you can get waffles on the street for 1€, but Maison Dandoy is worth the extra euros for the ambiance and wonderful views outside of their restaurant windows upstairs. Plus, its hot chocolates are drool worthy.

Elisabeth

Brussels is well known for the delicious chocolate shops on every corner of the city. Elisabeth is my personal favorite chocolate shop and Instagram-worthy shop. With an assortment of chocolates in a variety of flavors, this is the chocolate shop to stop into.

img_9874

Café Capitale

While scouring the city for a coffee place that was open, my roommate and I stumbled upon this gorgeous café. Not only does the interior look like it spit out the pages of Kinfolk, the coffee was heavenly and the pain au chocolat est parfait!

What to Do

img_9988

Grand Place

Grand Place is a spectacular sight to see. It’s hard to explain how stunning it is to stand in the centre of the Place and turn on the spot to see 360-views of buildings that are older than your country. It’s truly breathtaking.

img_9903

Atomium

Definitely a tourist trap, but have you really been to Brussels if you didn’t see the Atom? Probably not. You can head inside the atom structure and see wonderful views of the city.

Musée du Cacao et du Chocolat

Love chocolate? If that’s a no, why are you going to Brussels? This museum is all about chocolate and the history of chocolate in Europe. Plus, you get some tasty treats as you walk through the museum.

Advertisements

5 Day Trips to Take From Paris

I have officially been in France for three weeks now (it feels like so much longer than that!) and I have started planning weekend trips from the ever-popular city, Paris. Since Paris is only two hours on the train for me, it’s extremely easy for me to get up, catch the train, and figure out a place to head to for the day. If you’re headed to Paris and wanting to see something other than the City of Lights, these five places are easy to get to and definitely worth seeing.

13
Photo courtesy of Unsplash

1/ Rouen
Rouen is about an hour and a half north of Paris. The gorgeous town is in the Normandy region of France, where you’ll find brightly colored buildings, an incredible cathedral, and the tower where Joan of Arc was held before she was executed.

2/ Mont Saint Michel
While this area can be somewhat touristy, it’s still an incredible place to visit and easy to get to from Paris. Mont Saint Michel is an island with a magnificent abbey that towers over everything. Even if you decide not to head inside the abbey (it’s 9€ if you’re over 25 and free for everyone else), the town itself is gorgeous with lots of delicious food you should try immediately.

3/ Giverny
If you’re a fan of Monet, you’ll want to head to Giverny immediately. You’ll be able to stroll through Monet’s home and garden and feel immediately as if you’re in one of his paintings.

4/ Lille
Unfortunately, Lille is overlooked by many tourists but it is one of the best day trips from Paris. If you’re a foodie, you don’t want to miss this city at all. Home to incredible museums, intriguing architecture, and delicious food, Lille is an easy day trip to take from Paris that you must take.

5/ Orléans
While you may stop here while castle hunting, this shouldn’t just be a place for you to stop for lunch. Orléans is home to the streets Joan of Arc walked along, and the house she spent time in still stands. Enjoy delicious food, insane architecture, and castles that will take your breath away.

 

The days are long, and the nights short.

Tomorrow I start working as a Teaching Assistant for the first time. I’ve gone a whole month without working (besides the occasional freelance gigs I have) and it’s going to be nice to get back into the swing of things.

img_9465-jpg

To say I’m nervous would be an understatement—I’m a bit terrified, to be honest. I’ve never taught before and I only hope that the kids aren’t like the people I went to high school with. However, I met up with the professors I’ll be helping for the year, and they were all incredibly nice and supportive. I have my school schedule and the only thing that I can hope is that I don’t make a complete ass of myself.

How the French school system works is that they have A and B weeks. On opposite weeks, you have different sets of classes to attend. Both my weeks are pretty light—hey, I’m only working 12 hours a week—and I will be tutoring a student for his SAT, trying to start an English club (the professors said this may or may not work), and working with a few professors on their English, while they help me with my French.

I’m starting to get into the groove of this life a little bit. The first week was a major struggle adjusting and wanting to go back home or to London ASAP, but maybe I can get on board with the quiet side of life. Waking up with a rooster at 6am is not my favorite thing though.

Next weekend, Alyssa and I will be heading to Paris for the day to get a different SIM card for our phones (bigger data plan) and to museum hop since with a visa, you can get into French museums for free.

We’re hoping that this week we can find someone to take us to the laundromat (we really need to wash our clothes somewhere besides the sink!), find out where we collect our mail, and get things prepped for our trip to London in 17 days (yes, I’m already headed back!).

I can’t wait to start making money again and stop seeing my bank account slowly dwindle without anything going in. France, so far, has been an experience and I can already tell it’s only going to get better.

Getting Ready For Something New

Last night was the first night I started to get a bit emotional about my upcoming move. My mom keeps reminding me that if anything happens, it’ll take her at least a day to get to me, and that is a sobering fact for someone who is as clumsy as I am.

1
Photo courtesy of Unsplash

As she was outside hanging out with friends, I sat inside listening to her laughing while rummaging through my closet deciding which items I’m going to be packing into my carry on and suitcase for the next year of my life. “You’re not going to take more than one suitcase with you?” she keeps asking. “Maybe you should take another one with you. I’ll pay for the second bag.” But, I keep insisting that I don’t need that much. I don’t need the ten sweaters I laid out last night, nor do I need all six of the dresses and ten pairs of shoes because anyone who knows me knows that my first stop when I touchdown in Europe is Topshop.

As I placed items on the floor to decide which would stay and which would go, I started to tear up at the fact that in three short weeks, I’ll be in a new bedroom, in a new city, starting a new job, with all new people. Nothing will be familiar. Nothing will be routine. Nothing will be the same.

However, I feel pretty lucky for already receiving all of my paperwork before a lot of the other assistants in the program. I feel lucky that I’ve connected with a fair amount of people who will be in the same region and even have started talking with a girl who will be in the same small village.

I’m so ready for this next journey and to see where this path in life with take me. I hope you come along with me. I hope you hold my hand through the anxieties, the laughter, the adventures, and (I’m sure!) the breakdowns.

Dear April + May

Looking back through my photos of the small bits of April and May realize that I’ve been doing a lot better about staying in the moment. Now, my mom would laugh at that as she has to continually tell me to put my phone away, but looking through my “moments” over the past couple months, I’ve slowly been putting the phone down more and enjoying the world. April was a lot of nervous and excited energy leading up to the end of the month. It was surprises to Kelsey since she was turning another year older. It was giving my mom, what she deemed, the trip of a lifetime to Europe. It was a million things all at once and trying to see it from other people’s perspectives.

While there will be a post coming soon dedicated to everything London, I wanted to pop in and say hello. It’s been awhile. I miss typing away at my keyboard into the vast void of the Internet hoping my words connect with someone out there. I hope it’s you. Dear April and May, you weren’t anything like I expected and I’m learning to become okay with that. It’s a learning process that I need to readjust my mind to. You were both challenging and rewarding. Satisfying and maddening. Lovely and horrific.

June, we’re already almost two weeks into you. Fingers crossed in advance.

A Year Of Adventure

Fun For Louis has the life I would love to lead one day. Travels around. Records what he does. Meets new people. Eats new things. And even when he’s having a bad day, he always seems to find the best in any situation. His motto, “Enjoy life. Live the adventure” is one I’m trying to aspire to each day. He films every day of his life and below is a compilation video of his favorite bits from his past year (and one of my favorite videos!).

24 Things I Learned By 24

1

1. Eat the ice cream. Stop questioning and dig in.

2. As much as you hate it, not everyone is going to like you and that’s completely out of your control. Sometimes it’s a personality thing. Remember how you don’t like some people’s personalities? Well, same thing goes for other people regarding you.

3. Mom is right about mostly everything.

4. You don’t need 100 friends to be happy—you just need one.

5. Just be nice!

6. Love things without restriction. Stop being embarrassed by things that you like. Embrace your dork.

7. Being alone and being lonely are too separate things.

8. Don’t wear shoes that are a half size too small. Your feet will thank you for it.

9. Laugh until you cry.

10. Saying you don’t understand something is okay. You don’t have all the answers.

11. Get your oil changed.

12. Take care of yourself—have time to breathe and reflect on things and don’t always be go-go-go. You need to have downtime.

13. Stop thinking about the things you did in your past. You can’t change them, so move on.

14. No one’s lives are like they appear on social media. Stop being jealous.

15. Don’t feel bad about sleeping in. Sometimes you need it.

16. Always check you’re logged into the correct social media account. Tweeting something from your work account that was meant to go on your personal isn’t always the best.

17. Do not touch your face when you have a zit. Don’t pick at it. Don’t mess with it. Don’t even stare at it.

18. Stop hanging out with people that make you feel bad about yourself. You’re essentially in an emotionally abusive relationship. If you wouldn’t want your friends to hang out with them, why are you?

19. Get your haircut more than once every six months.

20. It’s okay that you don’t know what you’re doing in life. You’re still young and figuring yourself out.

21. Don’t ever pass up the opportunity to snuggle a cat.

22. Learn how to make a basic meal, and not just microwavable meals.

23. Do things that scare you.

24. When someone is sad, just be there for them anyway you know how.