10 Things That Make Me Smile in Brussels


Lilia Souri is a student at Virginia Commonwealth University and an ISA Featured Blogger. She is currently studying abroad with ISA in Brussels, Belgium.

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It’s been about one month since I arrived in Brussels, Belgium and I’m so overwhelmingly happy, it almost scares me. I knew that studying abroad would be an incredible experience, but never did I expect to be so in love with a country and so in love with people I’ve known for such a short amount of time.

Belgium is an unbelievably underrated country. Many people don’t know what makes it special. Aside from the classic waffles, chocolate, and beer, Belgium is a country that needs to be appreciated as an experience. In efforts to express the immense amount of admiration I feel towards my new home, I’m going to name 10 Belgian things (in no specific order) that put a smile on my face.

The charmingly unique townhomes– wherever you turn in Brussels there is a strip of quirky, colorful townhomes. I remember going for a walk around my neighborhood during my first day in the city and being so amazed at how different every house looked. Each home has so much charm and character, just like Brussels!

This is the amazing view from my Brussels Bedroom!

Magnificent churches EVERYWHERE– I kid you not, you can’t go anywhere in Brussels without running into a beautiful church or cathedral. Even after a month of being here, my jaw drops every time I see one. The architecture is exquisite. It really reminds you about how early the city was founded (1832).

Just a casual cathedral I ran into on my Sunday stroll.
Just a casual cathedral I ran into on my Sunday stroll.

Forgiveness to foreigners failing at French- I may have been speaking French since elementary school, but that doesn’t mean I can get by without revealing my apparent American accent. Native speakers here are so willing to help us foreigners with our French. I have yet to receive the cold shoulder or an eye roll from someone when attempting to communicate. Often time’s people will provide you with corrections on what you say to them. When natives see that you are trying to speak their language, they appreciate it and are willing to help you learn.

Narrow cobblestone streets- Okay, so I know this sounds like a strange thing to make a person smile, but trust me it’s definitely a smile worthy sight. The cobblestone streets are perfectly framed by the quirky townhomes. It’s a simple, yet beautiful sight. This is what I meant when I said Brussels is an experience to have. It truly is the little things that make this city to endearing.

Every corner you turn is a picturesque sight

Every corner you turn is a picturesque sight

Frites, waffles, and chocolate oh my- Would this even be a Belgian post if I didn’t mention these three delicious treats? Belgium is famous for these for a reason. The frites warmed my heart, the waffles tickled my taste buds, and the chocolate changed me as a person.

Is your mouth watering?)
Is your mouth watering?
Pro tip: The best Belgian waffles are always served from a little yellow truck
Pro tip: The best Belgian waffles are always served from a little yellow truck

My amazing friends from around the world- I am too lucky to be attending an international college in the heart of Brussels. I’ve met and become friends with wonderful humans from Belgium, Germany, the UK, Sweden, Mexico, Venezuela, Brazil, the Czech Republic, Spain, France and Portugal. It’s been extremely eye opening to get to know people with global perspectives on various topics. Whether is be on political issues or on social norms, it’s refreshing to learn from individuals who have experienced life through such a different lens than yourself.

Me and my wonderful friend, Nadja. She’s half German and totally amazing!

My feet hurt from walking so much- Yes, they hurt but it’s fine because walking in this city is always an adventure. My roommate, Morgan and I have a travel method of simply picking a direction to walk in and walk that way until we can’t walk anymore. We’ve found that this is the best way to explore the hidden gems of Brussels. People here walk so much more than we do back in the States. This is why natives can get away with eating so many waffles; they just walk it right off!

This is the product of a five mile walk around the city. I will never get tired of views like this.

European fashion is the BEST fashion- As soon as I moved to Europe; I instantly noticed the difference in fashion. Back home in the States, athleisure is the typical way of dress but that is not the case here. As many of my new friends from school would say, “leggings are not trousers.” Europeans constantly look very put together. You will never see anyone walking around in Nike shorts and a T-shirt. It’s different than what I’m used to and makes me happy because I love how people here take time and pride in the way they present themselves.

I’ve used “cultural immersion” as my excuse to purchase a whole new wardrobe

Brussels is a cultural mosaic- As I’ve mentioned before Brussels is very diverse. Unlike the familiar concept of the American “melting pot,” Brussels is a “cultural mosaic.” Instead of melting the varied cultures together, Brussels’ mix of ethnic groups, cultures, and languages are mixed together and coexist within society. Every culture is highlighted and embraced, instead of attempting to conform to fit one specific identity. It’s absolutely wonderful to see people being so proud of their heritage.

The fact that I’ve only been here for one month and I have SO much to smile about- As you can probably tell, I really love it here. From the little things like the architecture of the townhomes to more ideological concepts like the embracement of different cultures- Brussels is everything I could have ever wanted for a study abroad destination and more.

Me and my roommate/ best friend, Morgan smiling because we love Brussels. Thank you, ISA for bringing us together!

The world awaits…discover it.

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