1. A MOBIB Year-Long Pass Is Your Cheapest Option
You will have the option to order a MOBIB pass before you arrive in Brussels, but you can’t pre-load the year-long pass. The card will be given to you upon arrival, but load it up with the year pass as soon as you can after you arrive. With the student discount, it is 75% off and you don’t have to have any transportation worries for the rest of your stay. When I first arrived, I didn’t think I would be using the transportation system that often, because I am only two blocks from the university. BOY, was I wrong! I was surprised to realize that the year-long pass paid for itself in just one month.
2. RUBBER RAINBOOTS
Rainboots are important. I didn’t bring any, because I thought that my leather boots would hold up the same way they did at home in the rain and cold. It came as an unpleasant surprise to realize that I was wrong. The cobblestones here are so much harder on your nice leather boots, and you will be wishing for a pair of nice, sturdy rainboots in no time. I bought a pair within three days of my arrival.
Man or woman, scarves are a thing here. The overcast skies cause it to be damp and cold from October-March, and you will be so thankful you have a way to keep your neck warm. Gentlemen—trust me on this. No one will think it’s weird.
4. COOKING SKILLS
At least know how to boil up some pasta. Even though a sandwich can be found for as little as four Euros, that cost can add up if you have one for every meal. Know how to at least boil some pasta and throw some canned tomato sauce on top of it. It will save your wallet and your stomach many times. Or you can always go with the time-honored tradition of having an entire 2-Euro baguette for dinner.
5. A GOOD, DARK COAT
As much as I love bright colors, bringing my bright orange coat was a bad idea for Brussels. The locals here all wear dark colors, and though my coat makes it easy for my friends to find me in a crowd, it also makes it easier for pickpockets to see me and realize that I am not a native Belgian. Don’t stick out like a sore thumb—instead, bring a nice dark coat that helps you blend in and adapt to your surroundings. The purpose to studying abroad is, after all, learning the ins and outs of your host country’s culture. If you do end up bringing a nice colorful coat, H&M always has good jackets on sale to help you fit in and avoid unwanted attention. And you can always throw on that bright jacket on days that you are feeling especially cheerful!