Showing posts from March, 2013

What Hurts the Most

There's a country song that goes like this:

Every now and again I pretend I'm okay but that's not what gets me.
What hurts the most, was being so close. 
Still harder getting up, getting dressed, living with this regret.
Last Monday my study-abroad experience ended with a whimper. My re-entry debrief occurred at 4 PM at the International Program Center at UNCG. I walked in, sat down and my grades from Brussels were slid to me across the desk like some legal settlement, like the Devil asking me to sell my soul. I peeked out from one eye, cringing, and looked at the offer. A semester of travelling across Europe, drinking beer, and volunteering left little time for studying. I expected Ds or Fs, after-all that's what I deserved. I think I had already accepted that was okay. After all  the lessons, and language skills I gained outside of the classroom changed me more than any semester ever had, but it was the people and the professors who formed those experiences. As I glimpse…

Neuhaus Chocolate Outlet

One of the places I meant to write about back in January, that I never really got to was the Neuhaus Factory Outlet in Brussels. I ran down there before my flight back to the U.S., because I desperately needed an authentic Belgian Christmas gift for family. The quick and dirty version of this place is you can a) go eat as many Neuhaus chocolates as you can shovel in your mouth for free, and b) buy whole one kilogram boxes for the price of 25 euros (or 3 for 50). It's not cheap, but considering one (piece of) chocolate at their downtown locations could cost 7-10 Euros, and a box might contain 50-100 morcels (or more) , you can see why people flock down to outlet for some bulk purchasing discount fun (especially around the holidays).

Of course most tourists don't even know this place exists. I happened to stumble upon a New York Times article on the place about a year ago, and then subsequently ended up in  living in Anderlecht, where my host-family knew exactly what I was talk…

Best Hostel In Brussels

When I was traveling around Europe a few months back, it became quite easy to tell what were the best hostels in cities like Rome (The Yellow) or in Krakow (Goodbye Lenin), but recently I found myself in need of accommodation right here in Bruxelles, and unfortunately there wasn't a clear consensus as to where to stay. To make matters worse, many of the hotels are cheaper than hostels, so why would most people pay more for a hostel than private accommodation? The answer is of course, obvious, to those of us who commonly travel in hostels.

free breakfastto meet peoplebetter locations (centrally located)bars inside of the hostelspartiesOf course Brux is slow this time of year. The hostel was not what you would say is a "rocking" place, and indeed the bar is minuscule (which matters little since you're feet from some of the greatest bars in the world). This of course is something that Sleep Well, the hostel we stayed at needs to work on; but, we adored the vending machin…

Where to Eat Testicles?

Never thought I'd ever title a blog-post that.

There's something to be said about Brussels culinary history. Mention horse in the U.K. and people flip, but to Belgians, they're mouths begin to water. Of course I always thought downing a horse was the peak of my extraordinary and authentic Belgian cuisine experiences, but I was wrong. My friend Nino took me and Shannon last weekend to Restobieres, a very cool, and very Belgian restaurant that sells everything from rabbit to testicles. That's right, you heard me, testicles!

Called choesels, it's one of those dishes many expats don't even know about, and tourists would never know about. Even many of the Belge, while familiar with the dish are unlikely to have consumed them. A century ago, bull's balls were the epitome of high culture in Brussels, as the Anderlecht slaughterhouse turned out meat scraps for locals. The problem apparently was that choesels are a labor intensive dish that can take nearly an entire d…

Two Worlds Collide

It's been over two months.

My ability to suppress emotions and thoughts has even surpassed my own expectations. When memories, or "homesickness" for Europe creeps in, I'm able to "replace" the thought with something else conscientiously, and suppress that memory. I find it somewhat ironic that it's necessary for me to do this with what are typically brilliant, amazing, and wonderful memories, but how else can I function? What amazing things lay beyond the limits of normal, if I recall even for just an instance that just beyond my reach? Universes might collapse.

Of course I never felt like the first ending, was ever the end. I've been waiting, asleep, dormant waiting to wake again from everyday life.

I'm no longer the person I was when I left for Belgium, nor am I the person who came back. I'm something else all together, someone who wonders what happens if I lot the monster out? What happens if I could somehow find myself transported far-far a…