A Christmas Story

I should be writing about Rheinfall, Paris, and Reims, but instead, I’m here sipping white-hot chocolate on what feels like the coldest day of the year in Toronto.

Similar to the interlude during the impromptu Thanksgiving post, this will just be a quick recollection during the season. It is absolutely hectic between the festive obligations, but I’d like to say a few words about this year before we turnover to the next.

During Christmas, I have a tradition of sending all of my friends and family a short message, just wishing them a happy holiday and saying hi to their parents for me. Usually, I get a short message reply and we repeat the cycle again the next year. It’s a nice touch base. However, this year, I also sent the same messages to my friends overseas. Instead of the typical three-worded replies I get from Canadian friends, my pen pals in Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, England, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, Korea, Mexico, Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, and Switzerland all wrote letter-like summaries of what they’ve done thus far since the end of exchange. It was nice catching up, even through a couple textual exchanges or a fleeting phone call. I’m sure it’s just the post-exchange depression talking, but I really miss them. We’re always planning to visit each other’s home countries, but with this kind of snow, I don’t think airplanes can leave or enter Toronto any time soon. Not to say that my Canadian friends are unfriendly, far from it! Canadians are the nicest people out there. Perhaps it’s because of the lack of physical distance that we assume immediate contact, thus prolonged updates are unnecessary. Regardless, it was nice hearing from everyone!

If you didn’t get a personal message from me, it’s probably because I don’t have your personal number! I guess it’s also a testament on whether we’re close enough to share that kind of information. Or whether there’s literally an ocean between us?

Wishing everyone who follows along a warm and blissful holiday. See you in the new year with new content on my Grand Italian Adventures and The Four Day Four Country Challenge!

Cheers!

Pre-Departure Logistics (Part 2)

Fun fact, I’ve been thinking about going on exchange again as part of my graduate studies. There was an information session last month and I still giggle each time the thought crosses my mind.

In continuation and certainly trying to warn you before your acceptance letter comes in, there are still a few more steps before jetting off to a foreign land. It’s all very exciting until you forget about visa deadlines or overweight luggages. Consider the following:

  1. Celebrate your acceptance!

First and foremost, congratulations! All that research and ridiculous resume writing has paid off. Go out with family and friends, take a mini-vacation, don’t study for that midterm (okay fine, keep studying!).

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A Thankful Interlude

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One of my favourite shots during my exchange. Taken somewhere along the Maltese habours in April.

This may fall upon deaf ears, but sometimes you need to sit down and really appreciate all that life has given you thus far. I was looking through my travel photos the other day and words could not describe how thankful I was for all of the amazing experiences I had over the past couple of years. Those moments captured, even for a split second, of sunset by the ocean or silly candid among friends; all accumulate into the person you are today. Sure you may sound like a pretentious prick when you compare one experience to another, but you’d rather be honest in what you’ve been through that sitting in the back seat while others spew out nonsense.

I had originally planned on posting about Rheinfalls or maybe the next segment of logistics. Heck, I should probably be writing about the amazing people I met during my trips. God only knows how mushy I’ll be when talking about the Bülachhof crowd or my classmates at ETH. No, this post is going to be short and sweet. Just about appreciating the present. It might be a coincidence that it lands on the American Thanksgiving too! Can’t help it when Canada’s pants are filled you turkey-gobbling tendencies for 24 hours.

So I leave you with a famous quote that got me through the past couple of years.

Just keep swimming.

If you know who said it first, then comment below! It’s quite obvious, but fun to play along. Can’t wait to see what the next couple of years will have in store for me. Perhaps Argentina or Australia? Let me know below where I should go in August 2018!

Switzerland Does Halloween Better

It’s like I’m allergic to chronology. During mid-February, right after my trip to Munich, I had travelled to Luzern for unorthodoxed reasons. In spirit of Halloween, Luzern Fasnacht definitely put the “international day of all things spooky” to shame. It might have been the oversized masks and loud marching bands, but Switzerland sure knows how to scare people in more than one way! (Have you seen their prices for a pair of Adidas sneakers?)

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Reflections during Luzern Fasnacht.

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Pre-Departure Logistics (Part 1)

Two years ago, around this time, I was applying for exchange. As you might have guessed from the creative title, I’ll be discussing the ins and outs of going abroad. Many of these experiences are directly related to the University of Toronto (UofT) and their Centre for International Experience (CIE). However, similar procedures are in place at different universities and exchange agencies. With that, here is my disclaimer to consult with your sources prior to departure.

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Trading in #viewsfromthe6ix. “Home is where the heart is”, as the saying goes.

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Getting Scandalous in Scandinavia

Let me tell you story about a girl and a boy in Scandinavia. This little tale starts on a Thursday morning, with said girl running out of her management class at ETH Zürich to catch the next train out to Basel. Wait a minute; didn’t this girl already visit Basel? Well yes, she did and now she’s back. To tell you to never travel from your non-home airport! As much as she loved budget airlines and their ability to get people from Point A to B, these airlines could expand their operating airport range. Out of all the Swiss airports, it is most expensive to fly out of Zürich. Thus, the hectic journey to, quite literally, France was necessary to catch a cheaper flight to Copenhagen, Denmark!

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Amalienborg Castle houses the Danish Royal Family. Make sure to catch the daily guard changing ceremony at 12:00.

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Being Politically Correct About Particle Accelerators

Attending ETH Zürich is practically synonymous to attending “nerd school“. The sole reason for visiting Geneva, or Genève if you want to politically accurate, was for CERN. Little did we know that you’d need more than a team of computer scientists and a determined physi(ology)cs student to visit the particle accelerators of the Conseil Européen pour la Recherche Nucléaire. I can still remember my frantic conversations with almost 15 people about forming a group to by-pass the line for individual guided tours. This was at least two weeks before the predicted trip.

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The main facilities at CERN was decorated by a coloured depiction of particle physics. For example, the muon is an elementary particle similar to the electron, with an electric charge of −1 e and a spin of 1/2, but with a much greater mass.

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