After studying in a quiet area in Sweden for a while, I decided I really wanted to live in the lively centre of the city when I came to Brussels. The location of my university is also very central, so it made sense to stay at Van Orley International Student House. With 100 students of different nationalities, it is very easy to meet new people. There is always someone who wants to explore the city or wants to have a drink. Anouar, the concierge, is a really nice guy and helps out as much as he can.
In summer, we enjoyed the beautiful Botanique park, which is right across the street. In that area it’s easy to find good but cheap Turkish pizza restaurants, for example Lale Pizzeria, where you can get a pizza with salad for less than €8. All residents of Van Orley would go to Snack le Botanique for a mitrailette with andalouse: a big sandwich with meat, fries and the spicy andalouse sauce. You won’t get hungry very soon after having one of those…
I rented a student bicycle for 6 months, and used it to explore other areas of Brussels. Since I am over 25 years old, it was also a very budget friendly solution. Unfortunately the very cheap ticket (€50!) for public transport is only for students under 26. Cycling in Brussels is fun, but be careful when riding on cobblestones: they can be very slippery and you don’t want to fall on them. On a sunny day, we once cycled to Bois de la Cambre near the lake, which was very nice!
We would normally start our evening with some drinks at Van Orley, preferably on the roof terrace if the weather would allow it. Celtica close to la Bourse is the go-to place for cheap drinks (happy hour until midnight, small beers for €1) and a lot of happy people. If you’re into singing, than I can recommend NUA, a karaoke bar on the Boulevard Anspach.
The weekends were perfect for trips to other cities. I went to Ghent, Bruges and Lille with ESN, and afterwards we organised a lot of trips ourselves: Antwerp, Leuven, Paris and Cologne. The central location of Brussels makes it very easy to travel to these cities by train or bus. When I stayed in Brussels during the weekend, I enjoyed the Sunday markets near the Gare du Midi for groceries, or the Marolles flea market on the Place du Jeu de Balle.