The Neighbour: Flora


First and foremost, happy birthday! It has been a rollercoaster of a year since meeting you and I’m so thankful that I did in Switzerland. As some of you may already know, Flora was my next-door neighbour at Bülachhof. Although we didn’t travel together, I’d often drop by for food, beer, and general good vibes. In the summer, we both returned for another month and it was a tumultuous time of exam-induced bonding. From bridge jumping to concert going, Flora has been there for some of the most memorable moments of my time abroad.

I got to know Flora through my travel mate Brandon and later through Alex and Zach when they “cried” over computer science courses at ETH. Honestly, they’re all too smart to be crying over machine learning and whatnot. I’m convinced that they were trying to normalize my intense stress over neurobiology.

Other than her academic rapport, which can be demonstrated by her golden track record at University of Toronto, Flora and I bonded over music. She told me a story about her adventures in Hungary, which resulted in purchasing a cello for a foreign seller and bringing it all the way back home. Not to mention the conspicuous keyboard that miraculously appeared in her flat over the holidays. However, it was our impulse concert ticket buying that sealed the deal. Bruno Mars at Hallenstadion will forever be engrained in my mind. She had messaged me late-March, with a proposition that I couldn’t refuse. I’m so glad that she had invited me to join on this little musical adventure because it perhaps was the most fun I had all semester. Like many concerts, it was exciting and carefree. The Swiss have a knack for streamlining every procedure, so it was also the least stressful concert I’ve ever attended (i.e., transportation, coat check, food, mosh pit, home). It was during this time that I got to see Flora flourish. I can 100% relate to her introverted nature, but each time music comes into play, she blossoms into her true colours. An absolute honour to see such a genuine person showcase their passion for something that they love.

Another aspect of showing your true colours is through adrenaline. What better way to feel the rush than by jumping off a bridge? It was adorable to see our group gradually increase in height in which we dived off the platform. Flora in particular came a little later in the day, taking a much-needed break from her studying. She had wanted to test out her new swimming skills in the Limmat. With each jump, we laughed even harder as we hit the rushing water below. The current would push us along, but that didn’t stop Flora and I from trying to swim against it. Flora is super athletic, with martial arts, tennis, snowboarding, and basketball under her (black) belt. The effort was for naught, but the experience was nostalgic. This was also when I realized that this girl could hold her own. I won’t mention in what regard for employability-sake, but definite respect across the board.

After returning from Zürich, we remained friends. She’s always updating me on concerts (Son Lux and Hyukoh, to be exact), which has done wonders to my personal playlist. I guess excellent friends have excellent taste in music. I’m so glad that she has been a positive influence in my life and I hope that I have been as well. So cheers, Flora, to more music and adventures in the future. I know it is bright.