Well here I am sitting in the Brussels airport, the only major airport in Belgium, waiting for my last fun weekend trip to Barcelona. The next time I am sitting here I will be waiting for my flight home to the states. The time has gone by faster than I could have ever imagined, and while I am ready to venture home to the snow and negative degree weather, I am going to miss the city life.
Being from Montana and never staying in the city longer than a couple weeks has led to many self-discoveries. This country is so unique in many quirky ways, and while it may not be my favourite place in this huge world, it will always have a place in my heart.
I learned that there is no way I am able go longer than 6 months without some mountains in my life. I never considered myself much of a nature lover, but you never know what you have until it is gone. I discovered that I am not as independent as I thought. Being away from friends, family, and community showed me how much I value those things in my life. I have also learned a lot about the culture, history, and government of Belgium, but there two days during my exchange that I would consider the some of the best days of my life.
If you have never been to Europe in the winter, then you will be soon to discover that it rains almost every day and if it is not rainy it will be cloudy. So, this day was glorious because not only did it not rain all day, but it was shining bright enough to sit and have a picnic. My friend Madi and I went to the store and bought Brie, bread, salami, and fruit. Before we ventured to find the perfect picnic spot, we headed to a favourite bakery and got cupcakes. We sat and stared at the Belfry on the greenest patch of grass. There were children running and playing and we forgot all about our studies. There have been so many times where I have marvelled at the fact that I am studying in Europe but this was one of those day where I couldn’t thinkof anything better.
As you know by now I am a Montana girl; which means I have hardly ever dealt with any public transportation systems, except for riding the school bus. On this day, I seamlessly planned to go all the way to the south east of Belgium, I am currently staying in the North West (Gent) and back. There is a hike in Rochehaut called the ‘Promenade des Echelles’, or ‘walk of the ladders,’ officially it is known as walk 84. By this time, I was dying for some nature in my life, but to get there meant that I had to take a train to Brussels, another train from Brussels to Paliseul, and then from Paliseul we had to get on two different busses to reach our hiking destination. Now you might be thinking that it sounds like a piece of cake, but you must consider the size of the town I was going to. It’s like going through my blimp of a high school town Simms, and the bus only goes through the little blimp at certain times of the day and not very often. So, after extensive research and deciding that we were not going twice, I had finally figured out our way there. 5 hours to get there and 5 hours home, in the same day. Once we reached Rochehaut we ate some crepes, and I was overjoyed because we were in the French speaking part of Belgium. I could finally communicate with the world; I am staying in the Dutch part and while I have learned a lot of Dutch, I am not confident enough to speak inpublic. Anyways, off on the hike we went. It was peaceful and beautifully filled with fall colours. I kept stopping and again was just amazed that I, Megan Sipes, was on a hike in Belgium. In Europe.
After our hike, we ate some deliciousfood in a restaurant filled with old retired people, in nice clothes, and all their dogs. We trudged in with hungry bellies and muddy jeans, but that is not what mattered in those moments. What mattered was the memories we were creating and would carry with us for the rest of our lives.
We got to the bus stop and made our way home seamlessly. I was so happy that not only did the whole transportation go in my favour but I sure that isnot the only reason why I love this day so much. I think it must do with the fact that dreams of mine have come true. I have so many hopes and aspirations, and sometimes I am not certain they will come true, but these goals I have had for years have been realized and accomplish, while creating memories to last a lifetime.