My first month in Brussels can be summed up in three words: beer, Covid and Tinder. And while that might sound like a somewhat decent time, I’ve had a pretty hard time adjusting to working life in the city.
Working in the European Parliament is interesting (I’ll write about this more at some point), my room is amazing, and I like the city life. The beer here actually tastes good (no offense to Cisk), there are loads of parks and forests to visit, and the city is stunning.
But the first month and a bit haven’t been easy on me.
When I left Malta, I left behind a lot. My friends that I’ve known since day one and have shared more than just my life with, a support system of people that know me including my intense ups and downs, and a country that I have learnt to love deeply over the past few years.
But no matter where I moved in the past, I’ve never had a problem finding people I love. As a student, making friends wasn’t any effort. You’d find your people without even having to try. I made friends in Malta, Melbourne and Lyon before I even realised I needed them. And with good people around, everything’s a good time.
I didn’t think Brussels would be any different.
Turns out that I underestimated how tough it can be to socialise when you are working from 9 am to 7 pm every day. Adjusting to a new place is energy-consuming in itself, and the first few weeks in a new place can feel odd.
As a working person, it takes time and effort to find the people that are up your alley. Not only because you spend most of your time at the office, but also because the older you get, the more you become yourself. You learn your needs and desires, your likes and dislikes, and what you value in friendship.
Growing is discovering who you are, and the more time you spend developing yourself, the more niche you become - which is absolutely wonderful. But it also means that it becomes clearer what you seek in relationships, and what you need from your friends.
The first few weeks were lonely, as I felt like I barely had any friends in the city. What made matters worse is that I hardly had the energy to make any.
So I swiped my way through Bumble and Tinder in an attempt to find humans to connect with. And as I was mostly inside and by myself, I caught a cold. You guessed it - Covid. While I wasn’t even socialising or partying, I somehow caught Omicron. It was truly the best of both worlds.
I went from feeling isolated to literally being isolated. I had a fever for two days, and a normal cold after that. It hit me harder than I expected, but I didn’t take the booster, so I guess this was the best way to become immune.
Quarantine marked my fifth week in the city, and I somehow made my way through it. Sir Godwin is my rock and the reason I get out of bed every day, as well as the reason I got to sneak outside for short walks while I was positive.
And when I thought it couldn’t get worse, it actually got better. It seems like the hardest part of adjusting to Brussels is over. At the end of my quarantine week, a friend came as a surprise visit, and I got in touch with friends of friends from Malta.
Another Maltese friend just moved here for a traineeship, and we’ve been meeting loads of people together.
As soon as I met them, I knew I was home again. It is so important to have people you can talk and laugh with. People who are on the same page as you are.
I also have things to look forward to: I’m going to Malta for work this week, the weather is getting sunnier by the day, and I’m making exciting plans to stay in Brussels for a longer time.
And the fact that I found my kind of people gives me hope for the rest of my time here. In such a big city, it’s inevitable to turn strangers into friends. After all, strangers are just friends you haven't met yet.
Having friends around makes the good times better and the bad times bearable - so what started off as bad is only bound to get better.