Where do I begin!? I had the opportunity from my school to attend a 2 week course in packaging (Graphic Design) in Ghent, Belgium. I had never traveled without my family & to Europe I was unsure at first overthinking like I do about the cost & blah blah blah (although I had the cost of the course covered by the school, thank goodness that was good for my student pocket budget) but I decided regardless of my doubts that I should go, accompanied with 2 other students, also friends of mine. So I went & I ended up loving it way more than I thought I would!
It’s funny cuz I was so excited as we got there but I was so jet-lagged & cranky I was actually home sick on the first day & that was the only day that I was home sick or even missed it, as odd as that sounds! I just missed the my room & comfort zone. That soon dissipated, as he started to explore the city, get feel of the atmosphere & of course take a million photographs like tourists do. As I got acquainted with my class mates & made new friends, I really started to enjoy it. Talking to the locals, having random conversations with other tourists made it feel refreshing. Along with the beautiful & romantic architecture that added a charm to the city called Ghent.
Even though I still had to get up early in the mornings for 8 hour classes ( nice thing was that the school provided us with lunch) I noticed my stress levels drop. It’s crazy cuz I realized how much stress I put on myself before I bought the ‘hustle bustle’ ‘stress your a mess’ vibe from North America on the first day which got me overthinking, but then as I assimilated, I noticed how laid back the atmosphere is, people just seemed more relaxed (almost everyone rode a bike, the bike had a right of way, then pedestrians then cars) on top of the fact that you can drink in Belgium once you turn 16, you can drink openly on the roads which is unheard of in Canada. Oh! & most stores close by 6pm, along with almost everything is also closed on Sunday. It seems as if there is more of a balance between work & play and more emphasis on socializing with family & friends, which resulted in this warm, relaxed ambiance that North America lacks (not to generalize, even though I am!)
The more I explored with friends I had made towards the end of my trip & soaked in & absorbed the environment, the people, the places I realized I wanted to stay longer & really be a part of it, that new exciting feeling I got resembled when I got new fresh ideas, it felt like inspiration over & over again (or even even a romantic love affair, I couldn’t get enough of). But of course I had to leave, which felt abruptly, although I enjoyed my stay I tried to inhale all the waffles, chocolate, liquor that I could & I did. (also amazing selection of alcohol in their grocery stores).
If you ever have a chance to go or stay in Ghent, Belgium I would suggest:
-Getting a place or air bnb by the City Centre (around Koren Maar)
We were a few minutes away from a beautiful view of the bridge, couple minutes away from the grocery stores, bars & overall entertainment.
-Take a boat ride
yes it sounds tourist-y but it’s super gorgeous & romantic (whether your single or not) plus you get a nice view & mini tour of the city for only about 6-7 euros!
There are 2 types of waffles I noticed the thick dough-y ones & the light airy ones, both are yummy! But I really liked the ones from this place called ‘Fetch’ I would suggest trying their fluffy rectangle waffles, drizzled with Nutella, strawberries and whip cream, if you have a big sweet tooth like mines, it’s soo delicious, super filling, you could probably share it with 2 people.
-If you like fruity alcohol…
then try their cherry beer, it tastes great (might resemble cough syrup cuz we like to make all our cough medicine in cherry flavour, still taste good)
-If your an street art connoisseur check out Graffiti Alley, it’s a cool spot because it’s filled with vibrant graffiti, great for selfies & cool shots but also awesome cuz it’s LEGAL to do graffiti their, yes you guessed I got a can of spray paint & went wild (kinda haha)
Churches & Cathedral
-Check out their churches & cathedrals, they are so beautiful
-Check out ‘Belfry of Ghent’ it’s a tower that you can climb up to, to get a beautiful view of the city
Talk to the Locals
-Be friend a local, they are very friendly and can tell you the hotspots to check out!
If you have never really traveled before & get the opportunity to I would definitely say take it, it really opens your eyes up to new languages ( even though only picked on a few words that I forgot quickly because everyone speaks english there along with Dutch), new cultures, landscapes, people and experiences. A definite recommendation for any creative, this will help to fuel your creative juices.