My mission is complete. I found a beer that I like! It’s called Maes Radler. As someone who has hated every beer I’ve ever tried, I’m pretty excited about this. For all you Americans, it’s basically a shandy (beer mixed with lemon soda). It’s a girly, sweet, fizzy beer. And I’m not ashamed. Not even when I order it with cheesecake at Stam, the local bar at which I discovered Maes Radler. I’ve even expanded my taste to include Hoegaarden radlers! I have never felt more Belgian.
Finding a beer that’s to my taste isn’t the only thing I’ve accomplished since you last heard from me. I am proud to report that I have only gotten on the metro the wrong way once in all my time here (fortunately I wasn’t headed to my internship). I’ve also remained (more or less) on budget! To keep to the budget, I’ve had to cook pretty often instead of indulging in the €4 sandwiches right down the street. Happily, I have only completely ruined my food once (don’t sautée onions in white wine vinegar. Not ever).
All these accomplishments seem silly to you. They seem silly to me when I write them down, expecting a pat on the back for surviving by myself. But they’re more significant than they look on a computer screen. Each of these accomplishments is loaded with lessons, mostly about myself. When I did get on the metro the wrong way, I didn’t panic. I simply got off at the next stop, switched sides, and was on the right track in minutes. When I caused my apartment to smell like vinegar and onions (for reference that smells like either feet or sweat- my roommate and I couldn’t decide for sure), I laughed it off, threw it out, and started over.
Maybe for someone a little less uptight and constantly anxious as I am, these events aren’t even worth mentioning. But for me, it means that I’ve allowed myself to be the type of person I’ve wanted to be for a long time. I recall my reactions to these types of things back when I was in Gainesville. I would yell, stomp, and become generally frustrated at every small inconvenience. Now, instead of getting frustrated, I get over it. I remember hoping that I would come to Brussels and learn something about myself. I have not been disappointed. Still, I know that it’s easy for me to have a positive attitude when I can always look out the window and think “Well no matter how bad it gets, I’m in Brussels!” The challenge now is to be able to go back to America and keep that attitude. If I don’t take back any souvenirs for myself from this journey, I hope that the one thing that remains with me is the person I’m learning to become.