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.”
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!
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?
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.”
2. No matter how many times I order coffee here, I’m always surprised that it comes in tiny cups.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
In an effort to practice our photography and graphic design skills and do something collective while we are far apart, Esther and I have decided to start a series called Ho Park Collab. We have a hope that every week, I’ll send her a photo from my travels, and she’ll overlay typography with quotes/words or hand-drawn graphics that are line with things we are walking through, even if we are walking through them on opposite sides of the world.
A question that people always ask me is why I chose Bordeaux, and I tell them it’s because it’s by the ocean. It’s a different kind of west coast and a different kind of ocean, but it’s a cure for homesickness. My roommate describes the ocean as “infinite,” but I know that somewhere my eyes can’t reach, Vancouver is on the other side of it.
Not far from Bordeaux in the middle of wine country, there is a quaint little town called Saint Emilion. It’s surrounded by vineyards, so it’s a really great place to do wine tasting tours, (and do a bit of exercise, because the streets are all very steep). 90% of the stores there are wine shops. The other 10% sell wine-related things and ice cream (so basically, I was thrilled today). Here are some photos from our day trip: