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.
The best thing about meeting expats is the promise of housing when you visit their home country. Unfortunately, this was not the case for the Netherlands. Although we tried, this is also a lesson to not rely on someone else when you can do it yourself. We were still very grateful for the offer and sentiment. With that aside, I can honestly say that Amsterdam was not my cup of tea. Whether it be the lack of legitimate cafes for real caffeine or the narrow roads that catered to cyclists instead of pedestrians, this “Venice of the North” left much to be desired.
Or so the song goes. The Chainsmokers never ceases to amaze me by simultaneously dumbing me down and making me happy about it. Regardless of your opinion of the EDM group, you have to recognize their knack for churning out catchy songs. Or cute Instagram captions. Either or.
This would be my second time visiting the City of Light, but Paris looked a little different this time around. I’m going to preface this post with “unpopular opinion”, so cut me some slack if I rained a little on your Parisian parade. If you had asked twelve year old Grace of her opinion of Paris, then it would have been quite different.
New year, same sporadic schedule (hooray for alliterations)! Ideally this Rhine Falls reflection would have been up before the clock struck midnight on December 31st, 2017, but similar to impromptu day trips, some things just don’t work out. To preface this post, Rheinfall is the largest waterfall in continental Europe. Located in the northern canton of Schaffhausen in Switzerland, it was a quick hour train ride away from Zürich. Hence, on an abnormally warm March afternoon, JinWon and I decided to plan an excursion to the famous falls. Little did we know that we’d be blessed with Zach’s guidance as he was itching to use his new GA travel pass privileges. Off the three of us went on St. Patrick’s Day!
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!
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?)
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!
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.
I realize that some of these trips are not in order. If you look at my personal calendar, which predates all the way back to August 2013, I have every major trip, class, test, meeting, and breakdown documented in my files. The previous post talked about Munich, but in reality, I went to Basel the weekend before! Perhaps I’ll start adding actual dates to these entries?
Regardless of my disorganization on this front, Basel was definitely one of the most spontaneous trips I took during my exchange. The night before departure, some of my friends and I wanted to take a day trip just to get out of Zürich. Same night, we were out till 3:00 partying on Langstrasse. So in our less-than-sober selves, Brandon, Will, Zach, and I, simultaneously bought Supersaver tickets to Basel.
Thus, not at the crack of dawn and closer to noontime, the four of us scurried to Zürich HB in spite of our throbbing heads. With little foresight on our activity, we followed our guiding saviour, Zach, and his supreme ability to navigate TripAdvisor, among other things. Stepping out of the main train station, we all concluded that Basel could be mistaken as Zürich 2.0. However, I would come to find my original interpretation of Swiss cities to be incorrect later in my travels. Our expat ignorance assimilated all trams and tramlines to be a defining factor in all Swiss cities. If you looked up on any major street, you’d see the thin wire that acts like a red string of fate, weaving the arteries of the town.
What do you do when your roommates buy your tickets to Germany and tell you 24 hours before the departure time? You pack your bags and go on an adventure!
During our intensive German course, my friends were inspired by the language to plan a weekend trip to Munich. A quick four hour bus ride from Zürich, we left on Friday afternoon and arrived in the evening. When I stepped foot into the station, I realized my first mistake was not bringing any Euros. So early on in this post, the life lesson here is to bring the correct currency to your destination!