“Waiting” in Brussels…

 They say travelling is always about the experience and not the destination, and indeed, they are right.

During my mobility scholarship in Belgium, I experienced such a memorable adventure… And trust me, I would never have thought of doing it here in my home country.

The smell of our delicious shawarma made me homesick, as I was walking down the streets of Brussels…where I discovered this typical Lebanese cuisine restaurant O Liban.

I saw our famous mezza, our fine wine and our best-known sweets. I heard people speaking in Lebanese. At that precise moment, I realized that it felt exactly like home.

I don’t know how it came to my mind, but I decided to work as a waitress in that restaurant specifically, given that I had plenty of time and working for fun was not a bad idea.

And there, my experience began. I learned how to hold three plates in one hand and four glasses of wine in the other, just like a pro. To be honest, it was never an easy task since I broke three glasses the first time I tried to hold them and made some stupid little mistakes in front of clients; but I managed to do it perfectly at the end.

However, I have always wondered why they hired me, a translation student. Well, I was not a pro, nor I had skills. Then, I figured it all out. I am Lebanese, which makes it easier for us to communicate.

I know all our dishes by heart and being a translator was a plus for me. I was able to talk about the variety of the dishes we have in different languages. I was able to tell the clients about the ingredients of our mezza.

Then I realized that it was never about the skills because eventually, everyone will learn the technique. It was about the passion we share for our Lebanese cuisine and for the way we want to present our culture.

And that’s why foreigners love coming to the restaurant. They are in love with our famous dishes, sweets and “Almaza” beer. After all, the smile says it all.

My adventure ended after three weeks of clumsy hands, broken glasses, perfect sorting and mastering the waitress job.

I never thought I would be a waitress one day but I had the guts to do it and it was definitely a worth remembering experience.

So my advice to you is this:

Break out of your comfort zone and don’t be afraid to travel. Always have the courage to try new things for it will be a step closer to what you want to achieve in life.

Erasmus Mundus: Gateway to the World

I, personally, was lucky enough to turn my life around by travelling and living abroad for six months. Earning the Erasmus scholarship was the “visa” to my dream country: my actual life. This experience gave me the chance to visit many cities that made me appreciate beauty and see life from a different perspective. In other words, it helped me grow emotionally, mentally and spiritually. But how?

Travelling is independence. Independence starts when you decide to leave your comfort zone and escape to a different country. Independence starts when choosing to stay home on a Saturday night, while cooking a hearty meal and listening to good music seems the right thing to do. Independence is when taking a decision, whether big or insignificant, without consulting the whole family, is the only option you have.

Travelling is pure education. It is a pot filled with a mixture of politics, geography, art and history with a pinch of human interaction and a squeeze of intense debates. In addition to that, it is the fastest and most efficient way to learn and master a language. In fact, there is something very pleasant when it comes to knowing how to say “Thank You” in Spanish, “Good Night” in Greek or when hearing a language that you did not even know existed before you set foot in a given country. In other words, travelling provides you with education on real-life matters that cannot be taught in the classroom.

Travelling means human connection as well as meaningful relationships and friendships. It is only when you get lost in a crowd that you discover new people that might turn out into spots on the world map to visit later on. A simple hello can turn into a walk in the park, then into a dinner, later into a valuable friendship that you would not trade for the world. A simple hello may also turn into a true relationship, into an engagement and later on, into a lifetime commitment. Well, who knows? All you have to do is try.

Travelling is the definition of adventure. Riding the waves in Mexico, getting lost in Florence’s narrow streets, contemplating Amsterdam’s breathtaking canals, catching sunsets in Los Angeles, zip lining over the majestic Niagara Falls, staying awake just to see the shimmering Eiffel Tower go to sleep, giving away your sandwich to a homeless person living in a metro tunnel…and the list goes on and on. These are priceless adventures that will make you very rich, not financially but spiritually.

Travelling is a natural remedy. It is a non-synthetic drug that heals the mind, soul and body. When facing huge life-related problems, depression, boredom, routine or when it feels like the weight of the world, hop on that plane and just leave. NO SECOND THOUGHTS. Go. Explore. Discover. Vent out. Act like a local. Disconnect from home and feel free to do whatever makes you happy, whatever fixes you. It is only when you are far away from home that you truly forget about your worries and problems weighing on you.

Travelling is money management. It is one very important benefit that you acquire when traveling, especially when living abroad. Parents spoil their children and would do anything to provide them with a decent and relaxing life. This is why, children do not really appreciate what they have and always ask for more. However, when they move away from their family and become independent, it makes them realize what is worth buying and what it not; it pushes them to appreciate and value each and every penny they earn.

Travelling is appreciation. It makes you move forward and be thankful for what you have in life. In fact, they say that you do not know what you have till it is gone. It is true, for when you leave your home and think of what you left behind, it opens your eyes to appreciation. This definitely applies to people as well; distance either makes or breaks relationships and friendships. When you travel or live aboard, it makes you think of all the people in your life and therefore, helps you filter who really matters to you and who does not. This will push you to either get rid of toxic relationships or to hold on to certain individuals.

In conclusion, travelling is the best investment you can make, for it is priceless. It pushes you to disconnect from your actual life knowing that there is so much happiness and culture to discover in a place you have never been to. It also gives you motivation to attain whatever goal you have in mind. In other words, it is the source of new goals and visions. It is leisure. It is joy. It is love. It is freedom. It is madness. It is bliss. It is positive vibes. It is wealth. It is gratitude. It is appreciation. It is rainbows and butterflies. This is why, we should travel every once in a while to remind ourselves of how truly beautiful our world is. Therefore, do not let fear hold you back, for life on the go is one very rewarding experience. After all, it is neither about the company nor about the destination; it is about the journey itself. As Hans Christian Andersen once said, “To travel is to live”. So, do not miss out on life; get ready, set, grow.

Home. Aix-en-Provence, France