A dream is a wish your heart makes. But I wasn’t fast asleep this time. With eyes wide open, I had an amazing chance to experience Vienna and Salzburg in the most rewarding of ways during my weekend trip in April. No longer covered in layers of sleet and snow, the Austrian capital gleamed in the spring air. Often times I’d update my parents whenever I landed in a new destination and this time was no exception. I quickly snapped photos of a Chinese advertisement at the airport and my father’s immediate reply was a confirming nod of globalization. The trains, albeit not as great as the ones found in Switzerland, were shiny and new. However, the most staggering impression of Vienna was the level of cleanliness that permeated down to the little street tiles.
Exactly one year ago, I landed in Zürich, Switzerland. And the first person that I met was my flatmate Kohei! If you read my first post on this blog, you’d know that I arrived early in the morning. Around 7:00, I tentatively pressed the doorbell of Bülachhof 12 and waited in the cool February chill. A bleary-eyed student eventually emerged from behind one of the locked doors and graciously let me in. With formal introductions aside, I immediately took a liking to my roommate. It turns out that he had visited Canada before and even attended Waterloo for a short while. Obviously his physics skills were world-renowned. However, it was his kindness and helpfulness that stood out. He had already been on exchange for a semester prior to my arrival. He learned the ropes, so to speak, and passed on his local knowledge. I’d say, without him, I’d probably still be a bumbling fool trying to find the tram stop in Switzerland.
After guiding me through the transportation, insurance, and academic sphere of my exchange, Kohei and I often caught up in casual conversations in the hallway. He ran on a very different schedule than me and we only crossed paths between classes or late in the evening. It was always nice hearing about his experiences in the land of chocolates and mountains, but also his home in Japan. Later on during our exchange, the rest of our building learned that Kohei is actually quite a bit younger than the rest of us. Only to prove that he really is the smartest of us all.
Other than being a good friend and mentor, Kohei is a great cook. I never had a chance to eat his dishes, but I’ve heard great things from his group of friends. Since he already had a stockpile of Asian sauces and spices, he’d often let the rest of us roommates use some for our own meals. Just a little taste of home, I guess. Whenever he was in the kitchen, the flat automatically filled with mouth-watering aromas. Already inviting myself over Chez Kohei for next meal.
It’s really a shame that I didn’t get to hang out with him outside of the flat. In those hallway conversations, I know that Kohei worked hard academically and didn’t get to travel as much. We talked about Granada, Spain as an option over the break, but I eventually left for Italy and he had research papers to write. Once the school semester ended in late spring, I was adamant in getting him out of the flat. On a hot summer-like day, I finally convinced him to join me by the lake for a quick swim. Even though the iPhone 7+ is advertised to be waterproof, I was still scared of dropping my phone, hence the less-than-perfect photos. This also means that, HI KOHEI, COME VISIT SOON!
Now that I’ve thoroughly embarrassed him through this post, I just want to say a quick thank you again for helping me out through those four/five months in Zürich. It was such a pleasure getting to know you and your crazy theoretical quantum physics mathematics (honestly, I’m still not sure what you study). I’m sure we’ll cross paths in the future, either for your academic endeavours or my travel plans spanning into Japan. Until then, you know where to find me!
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!
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!