Blog Site Moved to the Netherlands

Hello~ and thank you for dropping by. In the 3 or 4 some years I had this blog I learned to improve my writing, cooking and photography. This blog has been an outlet for creativity and personal growth when I needed to take time out of my studies to do something for myself.

Since my last post, I graduated from my Bachelor’s degree in Toronto (happiest day in my life!!), traveled in Germany/Netherlands/ UK and returned back to Toronto to start my first job out of university. After almost one year, I left my job along with the amazing colleagues and bosses I now call good friends to pursue my Masters degree in the Netherlands. But rest assured, no more studying after this..!

I wish I could adorn this post with pictures to show where God & life has brought me. But apparently my maxed out disk allowance restricts me from doing so. That brings me to start a new blog PARDON MIJN DUTCH which will document the experiences I encounter in my next journey abroad. Hope to see you there~

To the Half Hearted Traveler

“Think on the bright side, you’ll be able to do what you love. Travel and see the world before things in other areas of life get too busy. Enjoy your vacation!”

At the lake shore in Toronto before traveling, laughing with my best friend about photoshopping people onto the empty space of the bench.

As much as friends have reassured the adventurous euro-bound plans made from months ago, I know deep down this is not where I am meant to be. At least that’s how I feel in this moment while writing. Continue reading

I Heart New York City

IMG_3950After spending the majority of my time in downtown Toronto for the past few years, I innately feel like the city life chose me. I’ve found an appeal for eventfulness and buzzing city energy. I want to go somewhere after our final undergrad exams, I told a friend. Here’s a short glimpse to some of our NYC trip.

The High Line

15 hours after my last exam, the nth period of sleepless nights, condensed stress, and the new found appreciation for caffeine, it was boarding time. Looking forward to new experiences in the next several days, I squealed with excitement on the inside. A diverse environment with hidden gems, local quirks, enchanting outdoor spaces, infamous attractions is what I came for and what I encountered. IMG_4067 Continue reading

Toronto Ripley’s Aquarium & Pieces of the Musée Océanographique de Monaco

In celebration of the end of the term, finishing exams, as well as my dear friend and colleague Shatabdi’s going away (some of us like to call it retirement party), we spent the afternoon at  the aquarium for another day-venture.  In the picture from the left: Alaa, Shatabdi, Cindy, Avalon, me. Avalon has already left  to the west coast, we are going to miss them but they are moving on to do bigger better things.  The aquarium was newly opened in Toronto sometime at the end of last year and it has been quite the anticipation on my list.  Since it opened, the majority of my friends have visited and shared tons of well photographed pictures of the sea creatures but it is something everyone should see for themselves.

One of the best parts of the aquarium was the snail-speed conveyor belt that stretched through the display tunnel. Continue reading

Weekend Escape Montreal

Happy New Years! Even though the holiday season has already passed, I really want to share one of the highlights of the end of the year. If you ever get a chance to visit Montreal in the winter, be prepared for how beautiful it is and be warned of the cold weather! At times we could barely stay outside for 5 minutes. In a conversation weeks before exams, my friend and I were talking about traveling. We came across Montreal and both related to not having seen it in the winter yet. Having something to look forward to helped me get through the two weeks of academic chaos. Exams finished and we found last minute travel tickets. We also used AirBnB to find accommodation.

The next morning after arriving we had lunch at Propulsion a vegan cafe in The Gay Village. It was just one metro station from our place. It was a small and cozy cafe. One of my favourite aspect of it was the hip atmosphere. Our server Nick was so friendly, somehow in our chat he ended up telling us about the cafe’s new piano. Before we knew it, he was playing all kinds of peaceful and classical compositions as we dined. We both got their sandwiches with a side of fresh veggie or veggie chips and salsa. Victoria had the purple taro portobello and I got the mungo mango. The food was fresh and delicious, so happy we were able to visit.
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A Bittersweet Ending and Some Highlights in Paris

It is bittersweet having to rearrange everything back into a suitcase. Seeing my host family for the first time in Nice felt like only yesterday. It’s hard to believe that the summer has flown by already. After giving the neighbour’s kids their last lessons and having lunch with the family, packing is on the to-do list for the rest of the day. If there are any grammar/spelling mistakes please don’t be surprised (but really, this applies for all of my past and future posts).

There are so many special memories I will take back home with me.  One of the most amazing experiences was seeing Paris with my best friend from Canada. It’s the magical city we hear about all the time. I’m a sucker for Disney movies… it was seeing Ratatouille that did it for me.
There was something…I like to say “magical” about the city—its architecture, monuments, people, boulangeries, and don’t even get me started with the extraordinary metro system. Its extensive system wowed me.

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Some Thoughts on French Culture & Adolescents

It rained this morning,  the day remained windy and grey. I’m on the roll with waking up at 7AM-ish. After eating an early breakfast  I did some yoga and pilates. For the rest of the day my arms remained sore. The day passed, we had dinner then I went on a walk to Menton in the cool night. It is only a 15 minute walk from the house to the border, but to walk to centre-ville it was almost 45 minutes. On the way back from the town there were some fireworks being lit by the shore.

Later I passed a man who looked at me funny. Yes, I know I am not from around here but no offense taken. “Bonsoir,” I said just to ease the awkwardness of his stare and he replied the same. Okay, that was that and I continued making my way home. Hearing footsteps behind me on the rocky shore, I turned to see the same man again. I knew he was up to something, so I asked him what he wanted but remained polite. If I heard him correctly in French he asked if we could see each other. Trying to be as blunt as possible I asked if he was searching for prostitutes…wearing a tank top and shorts I was beginning to feel unnecessarily strange. He was a little embarrassed and said that he thought I was being inviting as I greeted him earlier. Oh great…I explained to him that I am from America and that saying good evening was simply a friendly but meaningless gesture. Sure enough he was on his way back to his sitting spot. I was relieved that he was understanding and left immediately after.

After talking to host mom about it, I learned that greeting strangers is not very common in larger cities. When one greets a stranger it usually means they want to get to know someone better. Important lesson learned…sometimes being friendly can be commonly perceived in the wrong ways. This should be helpful for the weekend trip to Paris. There was also a firework show on the cap.
The encounter got me thinking about some cultural differences. The main ones I can address are for the adolescents or people around my age. After a month, there are some thoughts floating around in my head. Just for discretion, there is no intention to offend anyone. These are solely opinions from an outsider’s view on a different culture. Continue reading

Dutch, German and Canadian Girl Time

A bit of a re-cap of the weekend.

Being at a church again just what I needed. The atmosphere of the Eglise Protestant Baptiste in Menton was so friendly and welcoming. If you know me, putting feelings into words is not my forte. But there was something so heart pounding yet calming about it. I really enjoyed that there was a lot of worship and singing.  Some familiar but mostly new, we sang in French so it was good practice too.
At one point the lady sitting beside me broke into tears, although I had only just met her 15 minutes earlier, I put my hand on her back and gently patted her as she took time to collect herself. I was also on the edge of letting loose tears, but if I did I’m not sure how long it would have lasted. I guess it was emotional and touching to be back in a church and to be feeling close.
Dutch, German and Canadian at one table. After morning service, we stayed in Menton for lunch. It was incredibly hot. I cannot handle the heat, all I could think about was taking a dip in the sea. Continue reading

5 Times the Fun

It was a blast visiting Nice again with 4 other friends. Although we actually did not do anything special it was great having more company and visiting the beautiful city another time.  Despite passing some outgoing stare-ers I happily report that this time around no creepy pervert  prawled on me (as did during the first visit) when I arrived alone in the morning.As the bus ride from Roquebrune to Nice was about an hour, I searched for the toilets again upon arrival. Keeping in mind that most restaurants only allow the toilets for customers, I walked into an empty restaurant and asked for help as I opened my map. I pointed out to the barista what I was searching for and luckily he was kind enough to gesture me to the restaurant toilets. I heard a faint “Je t’aime” as I walked past him and his colleague. It was quite funny for me because I think I received special treatment in part of wearing a dress. Walking around the Museum of Modern and Contemporary Arts as I waited for Alexis and Jana to arrive from St. Tropez. We ate lunch sur le pouce. From a grocery store we shared some tabbouleh, guacamole, bread and raw veggies.  We actually walked around in Vieux Nice searching for free spoons to eat lunch with. Luckily we obtained some spoons from a gelaterie. Continue reading

An Evening in Menton

I’ve been MIA again but with reasons of adapting to a more regular sleep schedule and taking on some more activities during the day. As much as I enjoy it here, admittedly ,  it can feel lonely sometimes not having others my age to talk to. Strangely, the agency for the travel abroad program we use does not organize meet ups or gatherings.
Two weeks ago I got in touch with an au-pair from the next town for an evening in Menton. I’ve had the chance to visit Menton on more than one occasion already but I was happy to be there again. The centre-ville is so lively and definitely is a hot spot for tourism.  Before having dinner, Anne and I shopped around the narrow street stores. I was on the look-out for summer dresses, but I ended up buying a pair of denim capri-pants because I can hardly find any in Toronto. Capri pants were popular years ago, but now it’s all about the skinny jeans.

For dinner, we shared margherita pizza and salad at La Belle Escale. We had our eyes on dessert while we were shopping along the streets earlier. Continue reading