HOPARKCOLLAB #3

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This is my favourite one that we’ve done so far! When home sees far, the things that have reminded me what home looks like now always comes in the form of kindness – waking up to coffee in the morning, being driven to the airport without asking, and invitation after invitation after invitation. There is a light that always shows us: “There is a place for you here.”

SAN SEBASTIÁN

I spent this weekend in Spain, thanks to the AOC (a wine association at school) who organized the trip! We spent our first day in San Sebastián, then headed to Estella where we camped for the night, and then made a quick visit to Pamplona to stuff ourselves with tapas before heading back to Bordeaux.

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1. In San Sebastiàn, we went to a place where the land was covered in mist and waves looked more like giant hills than the ocean. People couldn’t help but pause to watch as the tide crashed in every direction and surfers, who looked like they were walking on water, dared to dive in and out of the white foam. Before this, I have never seen the kind of swells that break into themselves, and I think it’s where the phrase, “moving mountains,” comes from.

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2. We visited a couple wine chateaus during our time in Spain, and I don’t think I will ever get the hang of this whole wine tasting thing (seriously, how do people smell almonds in their wine or know what kind of grapes they’re made from just by tasting it?!). But it was crazy to learn about how much time it takes to make a good bottle of wine, and how some people dedicate their whole life to finding different tastes and pairing them with food. Passion comes in so many different forms.

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3. “Most areas in the world may be placed in latitude and longitude, described chemically in their earth, sky and water, rooted and fuzzed over with identified flora and peopled with known fauna and there’s an end to it. Then there are others where fable, myth, preconception, love, longing or prejudice step in and so distort a cool, clear appraisal that a kind of high-coloured magical confusion takes hold.” – John Steinbeck, Travels with Charley

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4. They say the Spanish don’t like to work very much, and we saw it to be true, because everything was closed in the middle of the day. We drove through desert hills to arrive in deserted streets full of pastel houses and people lazing in the sun. They were like ghost towns filled with life, and I think that we should all practice a little bit more how to rest like they do.

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5. Charlotte was telling me about her sister and her boyfriend and said, “I’m just a third wheel in that constellation.” I like how even stars are never alone despite being lightyears away from each other, and sometimes they don’t know that they belong to something bigger than what they can see.

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6. During the trip, the wine never stopped flowing, dancing was a must, and the singing never came to a halt. Sometimes you don’t need an excuse to celebrate apart from being here, now, and together.

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Korean Food Night

Eating out in Bordeaux is extremely expensive, so I’ve been slowly learning how to cook. Most of the time, it’s super quick meals, because it’s all I know and all I usually have time for. But Hari and Olivia came over the other day, and we made dinner for my roommates! Hari brought an entire suitcase of Korean food over from America (because Asian food is hard to find or extremely expensive here), and she is so dedicated to food that while we were making the meal, she ran back home to get sesame oil, because she said she couldn’t do without it. I am so grateful that she not only taught us how to make a few dishes, but that quality food takes time to make and time to learn. You have to burn yourself on the stove one too many times, put too little or too much salt, and cry a lot from cutting onions until you get it right. I’m making cooking sound brutal, but we had a guiding hand, and putting all the work into chopping potatoes, marinating beef, and pan-frying tofu made sitting down altogether at the table that much more worth it. I am so lucky to have these two by my side here in Bordeaux!

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HOPARKCOLLAB #2

We’ve finally gotten around to doing our second collaboration, plus a little something extra!

In my blog about Hamburg, I quoted a friend who wanted to name his future boat “Fernweh” which is a German word that means “the opposite of being homesick.” Later my German roommate was reading my post in the other room and I heard her exclaim, “I love this word! It’s poetic!” She explained to me that “weh” means “floating.” So beautiful right?

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Becoming Home

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1. Some places become home without you noticing. It starts with the first time you get a good night’s sleep. And then one day, you find yourself saying, “I’ll be home soon,” or “I come home next Wednesday.” Sometime home looks like a thief in the night stealing away all the things that made you feel unsafe. When you wake in the morning, it smells like hot coffee and tastes like fresh bread, and you realize that when you weren’t looking, everything that kept rest from smelling and tasting like that has been taken away. Home comes when you start to trust instead of recite, and you are welcomed with arms of empathy instead of fear. It sneaks up behind you and you catch yourself thinking: “This is what it’s supposed to be like.”

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2. No matter how many times I order coffee here, I’m always surprised that it comes in tiny cups.

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3. Have you ever noticed that vintage stores smell the same no matter where you are? A lot of people hate it, but I’d like to think that it’s what stories and history smell like – like old books or a musk that can only be created by time.

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4. I almost deleted this photo because there was an out-of-place body, but I kept it because I liked how the surfers look like birds on a wire, but out in the ocean instead of the sky. We were watching a group of surf students warm up on the beach, and somebody pointed out how you could tell how eager they all were to get into the water. They reminded me of toy cars all wound up to be released, and when their teacher finally said, “Go,” they were let go like cannonballs into the sea.

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5. This is the garden of our house that we’re not allowed to go in. I often stand on our balcony and dream about having breakfast in the garden or having a candle-lit party there like we sometimes do at Anna’s. There are grape vines that crawl all the way up to the second floor, and I think about whether the world’s greatest love story would have changed if Juliette had been brave enough to climb down the branches instead of waiting for Romeo to come up to her. Today while I looked down, I wondered why we are so fixated on forbidden fruit and why the heart longs for the things it cannot have. But in this case, the grass is literally greener on the other side.

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6. It’s been nice unravelling Bordeaux bit-by-bit. I’m so used to shotgunning cities like freshman beers – trying to drink it all as quickly as possibly, but usually half of it slips past sloppy lips and ends up on the concrete. But here, we live in a paradox of having all the time in the world and having only 4 short months, but it is a good paradox to be in. We meander through newly discovered streets, and make “next time” lists, knowing that “next time” could be tomorrow or next week or maybe even never, but at least the possibility of sooner than later keeps the list ever-growing. This is often what hope is: a list that knows it will probably never be completed, but keeps growing anyways.

SCHOOL

After two weeks of extended summer vacation, I’ve finally had to trade in my afternoons at the beach for 8:30 am classes. Here are a few thing about school so far:

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1. The name of my school is Kedge Business School. On our first day of orientation, we were told that a “kedge” is a small anchor, because they want to teach us core values that keep us anchored as we go out into the business world.

2. My classes are on a sequence system instead of semesters. We take 1-2 classes every cycle, and every cycle is one month. The first two weeks of the cycle are classes, then we get one week off, and then exams. Yes. I get one week off every month, which is pretty much every exchange student’s dream.

3. For reasons I still can’t comprehend, every morning, we gather in front of these big tv screens that tell us where our classes are going to be. It’s not because we don’t have enough classrooms, because we do, and it feels like nobody, including our professors, knows why we do this.

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4. This is my favourite word that we have learned so far. I somehow fluked my French placement test and winded up in the most advanced class where we were watching the French news and talking about politics in French. I was a little in over my head so I switched classes, and now I’m in a class where we act out scenarios of people ordering coffee.

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5. We rise with the sun, and I’ve switched my routine so I can take slow mornings on the balcony with coffee and cream, yet we still always find ourselves running for the bus. Today, I had to stop mid-sprint to snap a photo, because it looked like the sun was saying hello.

HAMBURG

Even though I was in Europe for less than 2 weeks, I decided to go out on a limb and take a solo trip to the beautiful city of Hamburg! Unfortunately, my trip had to be cut short, because Air France went on strike during my time there, so my 5-day stay pretty much turned into a 3-day one, which was not enough to see all that the city has to offer. I still tried to make the best of it, and here are some stories and photos:

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1. The Reeperbahn Festival – I was missing Canada a little bit, and oddly enough, flying to Germany brought me close to some west coast sounds. I saw some of my favourite Vancouver and Calgary bands play, and was super stoked to see Brian work his magic on the cello! There is something about seeing a familiar face in an unfamiliar place that makes a city feel both brand new and like a place that’s recognizable.

The Reeperbahn is a street filled with bars, strip clubs, and other questionable things, and it’s famous for having Hamburg’s Red Light District. It was super cool to see the whole area turned into a festival for concerts, film, art, spoken word and other creative ventures. I should have made better use of my ticket, but the time that I spent wandering in and out of venues seeing artists from all over the world was incredible. The air was electric, and in every corner (and even underground), there were bands playing from every genre. It’s crazy that all these people come to see artists they’ve never heard of and are completely receptive to it. A lot of the bars were jam-packed, and for one of Jordan Klassen’s shows, there were listeners lined up outside the window just to catch a few hints of melody. Not to mention, it was so great that even in a foreign city, there was a group of Canadians belting out the lyrics to all of We Are The City’s songs, and it all felt like an extended deja vu – the kind of “I’ve seen this before” that is good and familiar.

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JORDAN KLASSEN

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BOREAL SONS

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WE ARE THE CITY

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2. One of my favourite areas that I explored was Sternschanze. My friend Anna wrote me a guide to Hamburg before I left, and she described it as, “the place where all the hipsters live,” haha. There’s a dreamy coffee shop there called Kaffee Elbgold, and tons of cute little boutiques and unique stores that specialize in things like cabinet knobs and buttons.

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3. If you ever want to meet one of the most genuine human beings in the world, you should meet Max! He and his family hosted me for the weekend, and I was blown away by what Germany hospitality looks like. I was so well taken care of this week, and my heart is full of gratitude. There were so many mishaps like empty bike racks, broken elevators, and endless ways fate was being unkind to us, but we kept telling ourselves to look at the bright side, and it still ended up being the best day with the best beer and the best food. It was not enough time to look at everything in depth, but if you only have a short glance at a city, it’s always good to have someone by your side who looks at his home through rose coloured glasses (meant in the best way possible!) and used to study some history. We went through HafenCity using every means of transportation possible – we biked, we drove, we walked, we bussed, we trained, and we took a boat, and I think a day in Hamburg with someone so positive, sacrificial, and has a heart of gold is better than a week there alone.

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4. It’s hard not to fall in love with a city with so much water in it. All of Hamburg is laced with rivers and revolves around the Alster Lake, and Max told me that it’s the city that has the most bridges in the world (this still needs to be fact checked). I really believe that cities like this aren’t built; they’re grown from the bottom up.

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5. “If you had a boat, what would you name it?”

“Fernweh.”

“What does that mean?”

“You know the feeling of being homesick? It’s the opposite of that.”

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6. I ask to stop while we are riding to try to snap the red brick walls and glowing waters of Speicherstadt, but my hands are too shaky to capture the light. A passing by photographer lends me his tripod, and I try over and over again, but it still doesn’t look right. We walk away and Max says to me, “It’s okay, we’ll just save a photograph in our minds.” And I think about how it feels like a well-kept secret that only we know what this place looked like at this specific time. Sometimes there are better places to store images than memory cards, and sometimes our hands are too clumsy to catch the light, but it doesn’t mean there aren’t other ways to do it.