Over the last 3 months…

9 Jan
  • we eloped and got married!
  • we hosted 4 (vegan!) wedding receptions across 3 continents
  • we visited 10 cities/regions (Banff, Jasper, Calgary, Toronto, Charleroi, Paris, Stavenhagen, Hong Kong, Beijing, Bali)
  • we saw our 3 Grandmas
  • we climbed The Great Wall of China
  • I finished grad school
  • we put in an offer on a flat in Dusseldorf

So much has happened and we haven’t even caught our breaths yet.

We’re looking forward to a calmer 2014 where we can establish some roots, move in together, relax, and focus on being newlyweds. :)

I’m writing this to you during the last day of our honeymoon in Bali. Wishing you all a beautiful 2014.

XOXO

Deee-fense, Dee-fense!

5 Dec

Earlier this week, I defended my Master’s thesis to my committee.

It was a 1.5 hour ordeal experience. :)

Actually, I had a good time and I’m a teensy bit sad that it’s over.

I was super nervous beforehand, not because I had to defend, but because I had very little time to prepare. It’s been crazy at work and I’ve been completely swamped. Since I had been developing my thesis for 1.5 years, I did kinda already have a good idea about it. But my classmates all spent weeks (or at least a solid week) preparing for their defenses, and I literally put it together the night bef0re (as in 11pm the night before).

STRESS!

Presentations are not the easiest thing for me, and when I do them, I like to over-prepare so I feel more confident to deliver.

I didn’t have that luxury though, so on the day of my defense, instead of feeling excited like I wanted to, I was feeling insecure about my lack of preparation and was afraid I’d focus more on that rather than all the cool stuff I had been working on for the past 1.5 years.

But then I told myself to stop being a whiney complainy spoil sport, and to just do it - that it would even be fun and that my committee made time in their busy schedules just to come and support me.

And it worked!

I ended up having fun and passing with distinction. Now I officially have a MSc. :mrgreen:

Woo hoo!!! *throws confetti*

I feel GREAT!!!!!!!!

It has been a very cool experience being an international grad student here in Germany. I’m so very grateful that this has been my experience, and that this Master’s (even before I finished) has already opened doors for me.

Significant happenings

7 Nov

Two significant things happened recently.

I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves.

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and

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:)

Summer Lovin’

28 Aug

Guten Tag!

So Germany actually had a summer this year, and I’ve been thoroughly out and about and enjoying myself with friends and travelling a lot!

I really needed this kind of summer because my spring pretty much sucked. Well I shouldn’t say that, because there was much to be learned and much to be grateful for (blah blah!) but really, it was a tough time that I’m glad to be over with. :D

One of my favourite places visited this summer was Denmark, where I met up with my parents. They were cruising in the North & East Sea, and instead of going with them on the cruise, I met up with them at their Danish stop off point that just happened to land on a Saturday. I couldn’t get time off so it worked out really well. I would have liked to spend more time with my parents since I hadn’t seen them in 8 months, but it was really nice anyway.

Another place I liked a lot (surprisingly), was Hannover which is in the northern middle section of Germany. I knew absolutely nothing of Hannover before going, except that I once stopped off in Hannover’s main station to connect to another train, and saw a Chinese takeout stand that had a racist cartoon face of a chinky Asian chef. I couldn’t find it this time (I looked!), but was pleasantly surprised by how international and BIG the city is. Hannover was heavily bombed in the war but has turned into this nicely planned city with lots of really interesting artsy stuff and a great atmosphere all around. Also there are vegan (plural!) restaurants. Yum!

Oh, and earlier in the summer I finally saw the Alps!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! As in, I gazed at them (in awe) across from Lake Constance. Such a magnificent place that I must return to one of these days. From the same spot I also gazed at Austria and Switzerland. Gorgeous. Still have not been to Switzerland yet!

In a couple of weeks, I’m also going to New York City for the weekend!!!!!!!!! This seems largely over indulgent, and I am embarrassed about it so am letting you know I would not decide on my own to make this trek from over the Atlantic. But I’m going for work, and then extending my trip to cover the weekend. Very happy I can go, and also very excited about staying in a nice Manhattan hotel. Like, they will have complimentary wine waiting for me when I get there!!!!!!!!!! I’m not used to this treatment in NYC. Either I’m slumming it in 2-star hotels or commuting into the city from a Jersey hotel near the airport.

If any of you want to meet with me in NYC from Sept 20-22, let me know!!!!!!!! ;)

Something else I’ve been enjoying a lot these days is Japanese food. Wouldn’t think I could do that in Germany eh?, but actually Dusseldorf has a large Japanese ex-pat community and the Japanese food you can find there is amazing. Like better than Toronto. I was texting my gf about going again on Friday, and then started getting so hungry just thinking about it that I went to make myself some noodles. ^_^

And one more thing. I will be back in Toronto for a week in October. I’ll be there for my 32nd birthday!! That week will be very busy, so I may not be able to meet up with everyone (or anyone!), but know that I will be near and thinking of you. :)

Hope you’ve been enjoying the summer too!

Greetings from Frankfurt!

8 Jun

I’m still alive!!

Right now I’m in Frankfurt in the hotel lobby using WiFi, because I am addicted to the Internet and the connection isn’t strong enough in my room. :P

Really I should be walking around and touring Frankfurt, just because I’m here. But, I’ve been to Frankfurt many times and I just feel like being lazy tonight.

Tomorrow I’ll be off to Lake Constance for the first time. It’s on the Swiss border, which means it will be beautiful.

Have been doing an insane amount of travelling now that it’s warm here in Europe. Am super grateful for that!!

It’s always the same balancing act

13 Apr

So it’s Saturday night and I just checked my emails and responded to 2 of them. I don’t even know why because I am exhausted here and am hardly in the work mood.

I guess it’s because I feel a little bad for not going to the office so much. After Easter long weekend, I took the liberty of taking the entire week off, without telling anyone, because I’m cool like that. Last week I only went in once, and this coming week I plan to do the same.

To be fair though, the agreement was that I wouldn’t work so much because I’m trying to finish my Masters, but I had been working practically full time and pulled some crazy overtime hours leading up to Easter.

Like one night, Martin actually came with me and hung out in my office while I worked. My boss left at 11:30pm and Martin and I left at midnight.

So I shouldn’t feel too bad, because even though I don’t go to the office everyday, I still do work and make sure everything is running smoothly on my projects.

My thesis… ahhh my thesis. It is a pile of jumble right now, which freaks me out but everyone assures me it is normal.

Another difficultly with thesis writing is that I actually have to read it. ERRGGHHHH. Writing is one thing, but then reading it over is like triple the pain.

Okay, I am going to open my thesis file now and at least scroll through it. I need to get back into the swing of things, especially before the weather gets really nice (here’s hoping that the weather actually does get really nice!).

A weekend in Belgium

6 Apr

Hello! I haven’t updated in a while because things have been pretty stressful here and we are dealing with some bad news. But I don’t want to write about bad things, so I will tell you all the happy things of which there are many.

Martin and I went away to Belgium last weekend to get away and relax. I really like Belgium, because they switch between 5 different languages and it’s insane. Of course I speak to everyone in either terrible French, terrible German (to try to come across as Dutch), or default to English. Okay fine, mainly I default to English. ;)

We went to Liege, which I’ve been to before and is known to have not-much there. But, we managed to explore some neat places, took some nice pictures, and had a great time. We stayed at a young couple’s house that we found through Airbnb, which was an experience in itself. They bought this old (as in 200+ year old) house and are slowly fixing it up. Coming from North America, where 10 years is considered ‘old’, this is kind of crazy-brave to me, although perhaps normal here in Europe.

After Liege, we decided to drive across the country (i.e. 2 hours, lol) to visit Antwerp. Or Antwerpen as the locals call it.

I actually wanted to re-visit Brussels, but Martin didn’t want to because he said we had been there already and he didn’t need to go back. So I changed my game plan to Antwerp, figuring he had no excuse to reject it since we had never been. He was fine with Antwerp and we took off on our roadtrip.

OMG, Antwerp is so cool. It’s a harbour city, so it’s prosperous, international, and just has a great feeling to it. It reminds me a lot of Hamburg. We soaked it up by walking through the different districts and just enjoyed ourselves. It was also Easter Sunday so most places were closed, and there weren’t tons of people (tourists!) either, which also made it easy going and nice. Antwerp is also a huge player in the international diamond trade. There’s diamond district where I hear people approach you on the street to sell real diamonds! Because we went on a holiday, none of the diamond sellers were roaming the streets, and only a few diamond stores were opened. This was for the better, since I wasn’t in the mood to fend off diamond sales and diamonds make me uncomfortable anyway given their bad human rights rep.

We took a stroll through Antwerp’s Red Light District. I liked it better than Hamburg’s red light district but less than Amsterdam’s. My first impression of it was ‘this is wide’. As in, there is lots of space. Not super narrow like some alleyways in Amsterdam, and it felt more like a 9-5 business district. It could also be the day we went, which probably wasn’t as busy as a typical Friday or Saturday night. My favourite thing about the red light districts are seeing the men approach the women, and also when they leave the cabins after their trysts. It’s neat for me to see the ‘kind’ of men who pay for sex – and you know what? They’re just regular guys. The women are also just regular women too. I think more people should pay for sex and for it not to be so stigmatized. Sex is natural and there’s nothing wrong paying for it/charging for it if you want. Why not!

But nope, we did not buy (or sell!) sex. Just walked around the district like awkward tourists do. :P

We both had the week off after Easter weekend, so have been hanging out all week. It’s so nice! We have also been eating extremely well and healthy. All vegan too! I’ve been introducing some raw meals into my diet, and turning Martin onto it too. We also bought a magic bullet type mixer, so have been making delicious smoothies after delicious smoothies. Seriously, I have the biggest fruit and veg food baby right now. It feels sooooooooo good!

That’s it for now. Hope things are good for you!

No Chinese Food?

16 Feb

Martin has the weekend off in Toronto, and it’s a long weekend too because Monday is Family Day!

Lucky guy.

Today he’s hanging out with my parents!

Martin has been specifically asking my parents to take him out for Chinese food!! It’s funny because my Mom and I spent some time before he got there figuring out where they could take him. I said No Chinese Food, because Martin doesn’t like it, so we came up with a list of good non-Chinese foot eats in Toronto. Which is really not hard – Toronto being a food city and all.

I MISS THAT ABOUT TORONTO. The food, oh the food!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Martin was annoyed that I told my parents not to take him out for Chinese food, because he said ‘[he] could he eat it’. So the day after he arrived from Germany, he went straight to my parents’ house and politely suggested they go out for Chinese food.

Umm, what is that?!?!

That’s really REALLY funny to me, because most of the time I *drag him* to Chinese food, especially in Toronto where I want to eat it every meal (including 2 dinners daily). And he’s always either grossed out (like during dim sum) or just says “it’s okay….

But it must be growing on Martin. Or more likely, some alien took over my boyfriend’s Hot body and is now controlling him from the Mothership. That’s okay, I like this new alien bf of mine. He’s super cute and is now being more agreeable about my favourite cuisine. Yay! He also says he’s been eating way too much junk food and too much meat while working, so he needs to balance it out with Chinese food.

This is what I like to hear. A white guy associating Chinese food with healthy food (Thanks again, Alien!). It’s true though, if you eat REAL Chinese food. The fake stuff is disgusting – covered in oil and weird looking sauces. I don’t know any Chinese person who likes it. YUCK!

While Martin is having his time in Toronto, I’m trying to be as productive as possible. I have around 25 rough pages of my thesis so far. That includes lots of notes and references and tables, so I still have a ways to go. Wish me luck!

Loving where I live

16 Feb

It was surprising when I found out today was Friday. Holy cow, I’m in such a little bubble, working on my thesis. I was more productive today than I have been all week, so that’s good. Still lots to do though.

I really reaaaaaaaalllly like having my own apartment. It is so nice here!! I need to take some pictures but then I should clean up first, and… yeah. lol.

Cleaning is not exactly my priority right now.

Sometimes when I leave my flat, I say “Bye awesome flat“. And when I return, I say “Hi my awesome flat!“, and spin around in the middle of this gigantic room. I can’t help it, I just really like it here. :)

I’m so incredibly lucky to have gotten this place, even though it wasn’t my first choice to live here. I wanted to live in Bonn originally, or the other bigger city nearby. But I’m glad I got this place instead because I only have to walk 15 minutes to work, and my rent is cheap, and I actually live right *in* the downtown area of this small town. Like I’m on the main strip, across the street from the bus station, and right by the bakeries, supermarkets, banks, doctors, dentists, pharmacies, florists, clothing stores, etc…

Okay so it’s not the same feeling as living in a big city, but it’s a compromise. My flat is GORGEOUS as a result, and well located. If I had found a place in Bonn, it probably wouldn’t be central and the flat would definitely not be as nice but cost a lot more.

So it worked out!

It’s nice to feel a bit more stable, because did you know, that in the last 5 years since I graduated from undergrad, that I’ve moved 10 times?

Yes, TEN.

This is actually my 5th flat in Germany, and I’m not including Martin’s flat that we lived in when I first moved to Germany in 2009.

Oh the memories!

My 20′s were quite the decade for me. I still can’t believe I’m here in Germany, and not in Toronto.

But I’m here, in my 30′s, and am quite happy. It’s not how I imagined my life would be when I was in my 20′s and would dream about being in my 30′s (because I wanted to be 30 so bad!), but this is how life happened and I definitely surprised myself in a very big way.

Everyone I know has done some amazing things over years. We should all celebrate our triumphs and give ourselves a big pat on the back + a big hug for good measure. We’ve come a long way.

Turning Canadian

11 Feb

Martin and I are no strangers to being separated by the Atlantic, but this is the first time we’ve switched continents.

He’s just landed in Toronto, while I’m still here in Germany. 8O

As I write this, Martin is going through Canadian immigration, and it has nothing to do with me!!

His work permit is being sponsored by the Canadian subsidiary of his company, and he will be applying for his Canadian SIN # as well. A law firm in Toronto is representing him and handling all the details. It’s nuts.

Also nuts that he’s getting his Canadian work permit relatively out-of-the-blue, even before I’m getting my German work permit! (I do work in Germany legally, just on a different visa)

Last night Martin and I were going through his immigration papers that his company and the immigration lawyers put together, and I was amazed.

My Guy is not just a pretty face like I first suspected. 8O

He’s also incredibly smart and accomplished. I was like Sweetie, I didn’t know you did all this stuff?!?!!!

I’m so proud of Martin. He’s worked so hard putting himself on full scholarship through school, landing plum summer work terms, working in the States, and also gaining all these extra designations in addition to his Master’s in Engineering (or equivalent to, since the old German system was different just a few short years ago).

Woweeeeee!!

Now I don’t know what to incessantly oggle: his looks or his brains. Hmmm… I think I’ll keep with the looks! ;)

So the more pressing question is, what does this mean now that Martin is like a half-Canadian?

Not much so far. He may be entering Canada more often for work purposes, but otherwise is staying based in Germany.  As will I.

But I’m hoping Martin will enjoy himself in Toronto without me there. He will be living in hotels, but also working in Toronto and getting a kind of native feel.

Please also bring back some falafel mix and the bag of stuff I forgot at my parents house from last time! THANKS Dear!! :mrgreen:

(Ich vermisse dich sehr. Viele Grüße. XO)

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