Els Queekers is living abroad in Brussels

I am a Girl Gone International because…

I have an urge to discover unique places, meet different cultures and turn strangers into friends. Being a GGI has made me realise how much empowerment you can get from others – enabling me to take more risks.

Where do you live or where are you right now and why?

In Brussels, a close-to-home place with a very international atmosphere.

What makes your GGI so special?

Brussels is a vibrant city and this is translated through our GGIs: full of live and energy and always on the move. On a daily basis there are new girls joining our group.

Come if you want to have a good time, meet new people, exchange different views, discover the city together, lay the foundations of friendships with cool/like-minded/inspiring ladies.

Expect a very relaxed atmosphere, be at ease, be yourself, mingle as much as you want, go with the flow and you’ll have a great time!

Tell us a story about some of the friends you have made through Girl Gone International!

I got in touch with GGI for the first time when I lived in Amsterdam. Via the group I met so many amazing girls which after a while I could (and still can) consider as friends. Having this great social network made my time in Amsterdam (and the time afterwards as well) unforgettable.

How has GGI affected or impacted your life or the lives of others?

I love being a Community Manager because it enables me to bring great women together.

Having a good social network is not only helping you to feel good at your new home but will also inspire you to do the things you want to do and to take more risks. During GGI meetups I see how girls are opening up, sharing stories and getting energy from each other. Being part of a community where we are each others cheerleaders, both open and supportive and where we amplify one another is a wonderful feeling and gives me tons of energy!

What it is like living in your city as a GGI?

Brussels is one of my most favourite cities I have lived in so far. There are many flaws about the city giving it a certain imperfection which allows you to be imperfect as well. There is lots to discover on the cultural side: many galleries, young designers and art expo’s. The city allows to experiment and discover yourself. It’s also the perfect gateway for any European city trip. Brussels is a real expat city which is nice to meet many new people but also has the downside that you have to say goodbye to a number of your new close friends quite often.

What would you go back and tell your younger self?

Go out there! Discover the world! Don’t be afraid to be alone or left out, you will have to spend lots of time with yourself so start to love and accept yourself as soon as you can, this will give you the most freedom of all.

What does ‘community’ mean to you?

A group you can identify to, you share a certain openness and some common views with. A group in which you don’t have to hold back to share your opinion and ideas, in which you feel welcome and in which you can find like minded people.

What keeps you living far from where you started?

My never ending curiosity… As Einstein put is: The more I learn, the more I realize how much I don’t know.

How do you get involved in the local community you find yourself in?

Go up to people, talk to them! Join a meetup/expat/sport group with people who share the same interest/vision/passion. Accept a lot of invitations and embrace the awkward “blind date” feeling of joing a group where you don’t know anybody yet.

What does ‘home’ mean to you?

When I am settled in a new place, have my daily activity there and a group of (new made) friends this place can easily become ‘home’ for me. My true home however will always be the safe harbour I have grown up, where my parents live and my closest friends are.

How can you make a ‘home’ wherever you find yourself?

You need a tribe, a community (no matter how small) of people you like, trust, can rely on and can have fun with. All the rest is secondary.

Where do you hang out in the city?

A few of my Brussels favourites: – Go on a Sunday morning to the fleahmarket of Marollen – Eat delicious fresh fish in one of the restaurants of Rue du Midi (or go to Mer du Nord for a fancier experience) – Run in the beautiful Sonian Forest or in the Bois de la Cambre

What piece of advice would you give a girl wanting to go international?

Use the tools and networks available to connect with people and to quickly make friends, put yourself out there, don’t be scared to feel awkward or lonely, and most of all: just do it!

What is your life’s motto?

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” – A classic one but couldn’t be more true

What are your favourite haunts in your current city for the perfect evening out?

One of my favorite things to do is wander through the touristy streets of rue des Bouchers and feel like a tourist in my own town. When in the area I just have to stop for a drink at Delirium where you can make a selection out of more than 3000 beers. This has been the start of many unforgettable evenings.

Chatelaîn is my place to go for a cosy night out: dinner and drinks (f.ex. at Le Stoefer).

When I’m ready to hit the dancefloor my success formula is to have pre-drinks at Cabraliego and dance the night away in Fuse.

I absolutely adore discovering new places and try new things in Brussels. Whenever somebody takes the lead or has some good tips, I’m happy to follow for a spontaneous evening out.

Describe your philosophy on life.

“If” by Rudyard Kipling describes quite perfectly my philosophy on life and how I want to stand in it. The last sentence however should have been modified to “And—which is more—you’ll be a true GGI, my girl!” 😉

“- If you can keep your head when all about you Are losing theirs and blaming it on you, If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you, But make allowance for their doubting too; If you can wait and not be tired by waiting, Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,Or being hated, don’t give way to hating, And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:If you can dream—and not make dreams your master; If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim; If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster And treat those two impostors just the same; If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken, And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools.

If you can make one heap of all your winnings And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,And lose, and start again at your beginnings And never breathe a word about your loss;If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew To serve your turn long after they are gone, And so hold on when there is nothing in you Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue, Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch,If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you, If all men count with you, but none too much;If you can fill the unforgiving minute With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run, Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it, And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!” – “If” by Rudyard Kipling

community expat

By Els Queekers

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