Living > Existing

The desire to step outside the boundaries, to venture out of the familiar and known, and to tantalize the fine yet primitive line distinguishing between my self and my identity. There is an incorruptible impulse to be a part of something much larger than myself, to cheat oblivion, and to waltz with the provocative paradigm of living. Existing is a heartless existence, through which it forces you with the idea that going day to day with mundane and repetitive occurrences is a formidable pattern that is worthy of imitation. It is a flirtatious thought that does not ceases to entice you with a lugubrious lifestyle, one that smiles with promise, yet dances with infidelity regarding its possibilities. You can view yourself through a glass mirror, reflecting the thoughts and actions previous, doomed to be on the repeat button, and skipping over the best part of the song. The simple yet visceral motive to be is one that strikes the cord of every individual that breathes, that has blood flowing through his veins, and has a heart that beats.

Day after day, month after month, year after year. Time is nothing but a force that inherently reflects our nature, the characteristics that express our inmost being. Time is also the looming presence that reminds you of wishes unfilled, potential gone to waste, desires unmet, and goals withered to nothing but a mere vacuum, representing the black hole of life. It is a vivid recollection the dreams you painted in your youth that has collected to dust during the times of adulthood and responsibilities. It expresses the tangible but void impulse to ignite the passion that has been lost, the fire that has gone out, and the drive that was once present. Time is untouchable, yet its of quality of permeability is unparalleled.

What causes an individual to stop and smell the flowers, to revel in the beauty of memories, and to smile? When the conscious caution that there is no garden to enjoy the lovely and pixelated aromas of the tulips, roses, and gardenias, the perfume lingeringly in the air; its presence lightly kissing the sense. When the alarming reality that few memories exist where they play on an endless loop, experiencing every thought, every feeling, every moment, and every action as vividly as it occurred. The dismal actuality that smiling is an action that connects the emotions with the mouth, indicating a joyful moment or occasion. Smiling is also an instinct; it is done unconsciously. Such a time is so rare that recalling it akin to remembering moments as an infant. It is a painful reminder that much time has elapsed, but little living has been done.

Living is essential to the human soul. It nourishes the core of human essence. Living is essential to an individual's existence. Living is necessary. It is absolutely necessary.


Autumnal Ennui

Transitioning from one season to another can often be an exciting thing, but more often than not, it can be mundane going from one chapter to the next. It can be analogous in life, as seasons often mirror the mental, emotional, and physical evolution of the self. When a person is constantly evolving, moving from summer to fall inspires new aspirations, ambitions, and dreams. And yet, since we are human and not impervious to fall into a pit, it may not always be the case. If summer provided wonderful opportunities and amazing new experiences, fall can be perceived as a graveyard for what once was. Perhaps that may be a tad histrionic, but that is what is can honestly and viscerally feel like. The meaning behind the word ennui derives from the language to mean lifelessness due to a lack of excitement. In succinct prose, it essentially means a lack of drive in life originating from boredom or inspiration. In fact, as I will continue on this tangent, it can be easy to lie in the ennui and let life pass you by, becoming a character in your story that you read about as opposed to experiencing it firsthand. If life is akin to a story or novel, rereading the same chapter over and over and over again induces nostalgia and boredom. Likewise, life shouldn't revisit things past. That is not to say to appreciate what has occurred or learn from the past, but don't live in it. So, the question I pose is how to get over this autumnal ennui? Surprisingly, there are simple things that you can do that not only brighten your spirits, but also inspire you in a way you never would have imagined.

1. Build upon your wardrobe by purchasing fall-esque pieces.

This is not to sound petty or completely materialistic, but buying a new top or skirt can put a smile on your face. Plus, if it a wardrobe staple that can function in the fall as well as other seasons, it can be extremely versatile. Also, mixing and matching pieces in your closet is a fantastic way to go shopping in your own closet. Pairing pieces of clothing together that you already have creates a different look every single time you step out of your room. In the meantime, the effect of a compliment paid to a person largely beneficial. Who doesn't like hearing something nice about themselves, particularly when it's about how you look? Precisely. I must add that it isn't about vanity; rather, it is the recognition that humans being the sociable creatures that we are like hearing nice things about ourselves (particularly if it's true). A boost of confidence is always a great thing. So go ahead, buy those heels you've been eying and the skirt you've lusted for some time now. Wear it proudly. 

2. Rearrange your room/apartment/suite/dorm

Rearranging your room or apartment or wherever you live is such a simple thing to do, but it can do so much more than merely moving around pieces of furniture. It can create new space, it can remove clutter, it can provide locations for old things to leave and for new things to take its place (my apologies for the profuse use of insightful metaphors), and to add little knickknacks here and there. Purchasing an ornament in your favorite color can provide a burst of color in your room, a sense of vibrancy, and a pop of color stimulates the mind. Adding lights can create a peaceful and contemplative ambience. Starting a library of your own is always a great place to start. Maps are a fantastic way to inexpensively decorate the room. (Plus, glancing at the map can inspire you to travel and see the world.) Adding throw pillows to liven up your bed spread. Lamps are always a good idea. Simple suggestions that can ultimately change the entire mood of your room. 

3. Flowers

I have this recent obsession with flowers. I'm not exactly sure and I'm not sure if I can explain why, but I can't stop looking at pictures of flowers and flowers in vases. Whether you prefer to have real flowers from the supermarket or fake flowers, it really doesn't matter. It's all a matter of preference. But I will add, having real flowers does smell nice...It adds color to the room in addition to providing a sense of femininity. Putting them in vases is the real fun, though, because the possibilities are literally endless. You can put them in tall vases, short vases, wide vases, lean vases, etc., etc., etc. At the end of the day, having flowers are a minimalistic way to add a certain je nais c'est quoi to your room. It not only looks nice, but it can also smell nice, if you get real ones. 

4. Read. This isn't some literati post that is supposed to tell you that reading is a wonderful way to tell you the world of literature. The world of Austen,Tolstoy, Dumas, or Fitzgerald. While I can very much that literature is a strangely dazzling yet marvellous realm, I'm suggesting reading for an entirely different reason. Rather than reading for your classes or because you're assigned to, read a book for leisure. Read about travel. Read about what makes you happy, sad, passionate, or peaceful. Regardless of the reason, read for the simple sake of experiencing the emotions of that novel. Experience the protagonist's delight, heartache, and accomplishment. Vicariously time travel to Vienna in the '70s. For whatever reason, just read. 

5. Gain variety in your makeup. As a college student, I don't have a lot of time in the morning to develop extravagant makeup looks and I migrate towards a particular look. But quickly, I realized that I entered into a makeup rut. I always had the same look, the same application, and even the same colors. Instead of doing what you routinely do, try new colors, try a different look, wear a different color lipstick, wear a lipstick for a change. Try something different. Having a different makeup look every day enhances your features in a different way every single time. You express a lot of yourself through your makeup, so let your palette do the talking. Be the woman that when you walk through the room, all eyes are on you and question who you are. "Who is that woman?" everyone whispered to each other with urgent curiosity. Wear eggplant eyeliner, wear maroon lipstick, wear plum eyeshadow, highlight your lips. Doing something different with your makeup can really boost a woman's self-esteem and confidence. But it really showcases your beauty because when you do something different and yet people still can't stop looking at you...It's not because of the products. It's because of the beauty and radiance that precedes the cosmetics. If you are aware of the plethora of talent in the Youtube world, then you also know that it can be the perfect canvas for experimenting with makeup and hair and other things. Among the endless list of beauty bloggers, my personal favorites are ZoellaTanya BurrPixiwooChloe Morello, and Fleur

6. Take a weekend trip. With an unquenchable desire to travel, even going somewhere for the weekend is a good place to start. Anywhere within 6 hours is the perfect time because it provides ample car time for jamming out to tunes, chatting with your road trip companions, and experiencing the stops along the way. Whether it's NYC, Boston, Charleston, or Philly, enjoy it for the weekend. Have the 3 days away from whatever it is that you return to on Monday. See new things, try new foods, and meet new people. Go out and experience the world. 

7. Go for coffee dates.

That may include actually going out to a coffee shop, but it can also include making coffee and going to someone's room or dorm and spending the hour discussing anything other than routines and assignments. If you decide to go to a coffee shop, go with people, go with someone else, or go by yourself. Soak in the atmosphere.  Bring a book to read. Talk to someone near you. You never know what might happen...If you decide to stay indoors, talk about ambitions, goals, travel plans. You can surprise yourself where the conversation may lead. Above all things, enjoy yourself. 

I certainly hope that this post has inspired you in some way. It may not even necessarily be anything that is on this list. It can be to see that indie movie playing at the local cinema, baking a new recipe, or taking up dancing. It can be anything. Whatever it is that you enjoy or can frighten you (in the best way possible). Enjoy this season. It will be the only Autumn 2013 you will ever have, so enjoy it and make it memorable. 



Seasons are a part of life. The seasons naturally transition from summer, to fall, to winter, to spring, and the cycle begins anew. The leaves fall, the trees are barren in the winter months, the trees blossom with vivid pastels, and the air with damp with moisture during the summer. Nature depicts a cycle that is incessant, constant, unchanging. Yet, while these seasons promise sameness, a quality that life remains the way it was, it also glistens with change, with a metamorphosis, a sense of a foreign wind on the horizon. Change is a part of life, and while change is uncomfortable, it allows us to grow more comfortably in our skin. When a season of change, of difference, of alien territory enters my life, it a struggle, a plight that often overwhelms me and would rather ignore. That is something that I very much wanted to happen when I was in Europe for the summer.

When I was told that I would spend 3 months in Europe, I was beyond elated. Scared and frightened what I could encounter, but excited nonetheless. However, when I was informed that I would spend time in Romania--my country of origin--suddenly I wasn't so excited anymore. I didn't want anything to do with the people, the culture, the country, nothing. I wanted to distance myself from everything I would eventually encounter. The first 2 weeks of settling in Romania was extremely difficult, and that it not something I say lightly. Personal matters have exploded and combusted that sent my family in a slight state of turmoil, augmenting our difficulty to adjust to the culture. Shortly thereafter, it was as if an obstacle was removed from our path, an obstruction no longer present. I found myself eager to get the place from where I come, the people that would have been neighbors, and the way of life. I wanted to get Romania. I began to drink in the culture, discovering the music, taste, scents, and sounds that made up this fascinating country. I began to recognize people, their mannerisms, and their characteristics. I began to dress myself as a European, no longer lusting over European vogue via Pinterest, but actually getting inspiration from the streets of Oradea, Timisoara, Cluj, Sibiu, and Brasov. I wanted to experience Romania. That was a massive turning point because before that, I would have bartered something to have as little to do with it as possible. And in hindsight, I held some prejudices solely based on a person that embodied everything I disliked about the country. Once that individual left the picture, suddenly, I began to see Romania for the first time in my life. I really began to see. As I would travel to the country and mountain regions, I would encounter different kinds of people in comparison to the ones I would see in more cosmopolitan regions. The deeply set wrinkles all tell a story of hardships, effort, and sacrifice, while the frivolity of the young generation angers the older generation. The people, places, things, lifestyles, and attitudes became part of my experience. I had finally allowed the experience to change how I saw things, how I did things, how I thought regarding particular topics. My taste palettes had matured, my thought processed matured also, my eyesight and perception had gone through a metamorphosis, the way I touch and view touch has changed, and how I hear had changed. All of my 5 senses had irrevocably changed. For the better. I saturated myself in a culture that began to show me clearer images of who I really am. Instead of distancing myself, I drew myself closer to it, inevitably allowing me to change for the better.

It has been nearly 2 months since I've returned to America and the experiences, smells, sights, sounds, and people are as vivid as though I experienced it yesterday. I had returned to my 3rd year in college as a completely different person. I left Canada to Europe for the summer as one person and leaving Europe to go back to school in America as another. I see, think, smell, touch, and hear things completely different than that of 3 months ago. I simply cannot have such an enriching experience and then continue as if it had not changed me. I would be lying if my time abroad had not changed me, not simply for the locations and places that I visited, but rather the experience of saturating oneself in a culture different that what is known or comfortable. This made adjusting to college life (and American life) much more difficult than I had anticipated (but that's another topic, altogether). Before, I felt that I was stuck between 2 worlds--Canada and America--but after this summer, it's inclining toward me being misplaced.

Seasons come and go. But they always return at the same time every year. In this season where the leaves are changing and the temperature dips, I find myself in an inexplicable place where things are not the same yet nothing has changed. Growing into myself and growing in the world around me is not necessarily an easy task, but yet, there is some element of unpredictability that I simply cannot resist.


Carpe Diem

I do not find this the least amount of surprising, that I have not worn out the effects that Europe has on me. In fact, if anything, I emphasize it here during my time in America. When someone experiences a different way of life, how to do life, it's difficult to shake that experience off. It is hard to unsee or unexperience things once they have been seen or experienced. Gaining a lot of my personal style from Europe (particularly Britain and France), it's not a surprise when I try to implement that on my school campus and my own personal style. Thanks to the invention of tumblr and Pinterest, I receive daily inspiration, augmenting my European vogue. A very popular trend is the headscarf. It is something I have wanted to do for a very long time, yet it was something I could not achieve. For whatever reason, I just didn't do it. However, I envied people who could pull it off and could wear it well. 

So finally, while perusing Pinterest and lusting over several blogs, I finally got the courage to pull it off. Taking a couple of tries and several missed attempts. I have finally pulled off the headscarf trend. Deciding to not go along the whole hipster, edgy alley, I veered towards a very European look. It seems a little trite to share this rather mundane news with the people of the internet, but this is quite an achievement for me, since I very rarely do anything with my hairstyle that doesn't include bobby pins or hats. So this, is very much, seizing the day. 



I'll be very honest with you--I was never much a fan of autumn, mostly for the reason that I never got to experience it. Many lust and lavish in this wonderful season by experiencing the leaves change color, indulging in coffee shops speciality drinks (ahem, the pumpkin drinks available at Starbucks), and dressing in comfy knits. Growing up in Canada, we don't experience fall; we experience winter and summer. So fall is literally only a few weeks for me. As a result, I never got to experience wearing the comfy knits, laying up in cute vests and jackets, wearing chic boots, and literally wrapping myself in scarves because when I would be able to, the season to wear such clothing would be over. And then winter would come. So, ever since living in Virginia, I was pleasantly surprised to find out that fall is a full season--a good 2-3 months. Imagine that! It was then that I was able to discover seasonal drinks at Starbucks, I could invest in light yet fashionable jackets (a woman can never have too many jackets), and buy three-quarters sleeve shirts. And so with autumn on the horizon, I am quite ready for autumn weather and fashion. Akin to be reunited with an old friend, these are several things I am waiting for upon the arrival of fall.

1. Jackets. I am very much a jacket aficionado. My roommate once linked me to Blair Waldorf (a huge compliment on my part), since I owned so many coats. In my defense, I hardly thought that owning 10 different types of jackets was a lot, but nonetheless, I was quite flattered by her connection. Due to my upbringing in Canada, I do, in fact, own quite a lot of jackets. However, some of them serve a purely aesthetic purpose. Simply because it is cold outside does not mean that my fashion sense needs to suffer. I enjoy wearing all types of coats: trench coats, double-breasted jackets, bomber jackets, peacoats, and blazers. It is such a staple of fall fashion: it is a vehicle upon which individuals can express their individuality through coats. That is why jackets serve a much higher purpose that merely a practical one. Yes, jackets are supposed to cover you up and keep you warm in cold temperatures, but they are also supposed to be very stylish.

2. Darker neutrals. Spring is all about soft, muted neutrals, whereas autumn is about darker, smokier neutrals. Colors such as oxblood, maroon, burnt orange, and gray are popular, some of which I am particularly excited to wear. Color palettes darker, resulting in more frequent fashion risks. Darker colors elicit a more confident, more adventurous, and more exciting vibe. Wearing these colors can perhaps prompt you to do things that you never though you'd do, such as calling that guy who gave you his number, flirting in a more blatant manner, and going to different places. Colors, speaking from a psychologically point of view, can also illustrate how a new season of life is on the horizon.

3. Tea. More opportunities for tea. Rain, cold temperatures, sleep days. Those are all opportunities for tea. Vanilla rooibos, earl gray, chamomile, chai, etc. It is essentially the perfect season to indulge in teas, buy more teas, and take more trips to Starbucks.

4. Leisure reading. Although fall is often when the school semester amps up its reading and assignment load, there are moments when Netflix, Pinterest, tumblr, Twitter, instagram, and any other social media does not satisfy leisure time. Rather, I find myself scanning my bookshelf for the next novel to read, the next world to enter in, and the next plethora of characters I will encounter. Recently, I am planning on finishing Emma, and then go on to read Jane Eyre. 


A Transpiring Between Two Lovers, Part VII

7. Mon Coeur
Can you recall when there are moments when you desire something, but lack the courage to act on it? There are times when an incomprehensible amount of courage is all that is necessary to act upon the desires of one's heart. Then, daydreaming and imagining is no longer necessary.

It was a day of no particular occurrence. The weather was pleasant, the birds were chirping merrily outside my window, and the air had just the right amount of humidity to lightly kiss the skin. However, all these arbitrary observations merely augment what transpired in the following hours. At some point during the day, your name popped in my head and immediately, I was at a loss. I got distracted. I began recalling the details I had memorized: the lovely way the skin under your eyes bunches when your smile, how soft your skin feels when it lightly grazes against mine, the coy smirk when you're thinking of something you deliberate on sharing with me, and how intense your gaze is when you're in conversation. The lustre in your eyes blossoms to an unfathomable hue when you're talking to someone, especially when that person is myself. It suddenly caused me to grow increasingly anxious to see you--to catch sight off all these little details that compose your physical makeup. Unable to stop myself and quench the desire to see you, I picked myself off the couch and made my way towards your room. Reviewing several speeches in my head to imitate smooth prose, I quickly stopped dead in my tracks, my feet planting a full stop a couple of feet away from your door. I recoiled behind the corner when I heard your gregarious and infectious laugh followed by an unfamiliar male's voice. I recognized that laugh; you laugh that way when someone says something you enjoy. I know that because it's a frequent laugh I hear when we're together. The hairs on my arms stuck up like every cell in my body received a dangerous amount of electricity. My heart was beating outside my chest and reverberating loudly. Painstakingly quiet, I listened. I heard him chuckle nervously before clearing his throat. I knew the course he was taking. Where he was going. I gulped loudly. I heard his voice fluctuate before inquiring a date tomorrow evening at a restaurant I certainly knew you disliked. I was fairly sure that my heart would leap out of my chest as I painfully listened for your reply. You sigh sharply, not expecting to enter this situation. You asked him for the time and I could hear the smile in his voice when he gave you a reply. Even though it seemed like your voice was off, you responded with having to double-check your schedule to make sure you're free, but you will definitely let him know. My heart sank. The blood in my veins froze. The rhythmic beating of my heart stopped. a million and questions rushed through my head, but somehow, in the midst of chaotic cacophony, my mind managed to conjure a single coherent word. Why? In a momentary lapse of reason and all known logic, I waited for a couple of moments to pass before approaching you. One Mississippi, two Mississippi, fifty, seven-hundred, two million. The door swung open and shut with a vehement clang. Walking at an impeccably slow pace, I knocked at your door, feeling as lifeless as a corpse yet sensing an exhilaration that was completely alien. You opened the door and I saw how your eyes lit up and you gave me a merry smile. You greeted me so excitedly, I could feel the back of my knees buckle. This was the first I saw you in a couple of weeks. Much time has elapsed since I saw you last. Many things that I wish I could explain, but I couldn't formulate the words. I saw how your face slowly dropped and anger flashed in your eyes.
"Hi," you said coldly to me.
"Hello," I responded warmly, giving her a boyish smile, unsure where this was all coming from. I sensed as though a foreign agent inhabited my body and controlled all my movements and thoughts. 
"What are you doing here?" she asked me with an equally frigid tone. What she was really asking me was why am I here after so much time. 
I don't know why I said it, but I did. "I heard you got asked out on a date."
She didn't respond at first and the expression on her face was blank. After careful consideration, she told me that she was indeed and then inquired how I knew this.
"I was just on my way to come see you and then I heard it."
"Oh really?" She crossed her arms. "Is that so?"
I nodded my head in affirmation. Expecting a question to continue this train of thought, she stared at me with her intense gaze, her eyes unbelievably vivid. 
"Why haven't I seen you?"
I stared at her, flabbergasted, sensing the sudden surge of confidence seep through me, emptying. I looked at the ground, unable to answer her question. 
"Look at me when I'm talking to you," she remarked hoarsely. "I asked you a question."
"I just...couldn't anymore."
"You couldn't what anymore?"
The shrillness in her voice gave me a sensation akin to a women scratching her nails against a chalkboard. I sighed and without revision, I let all the words slip out that I have carefully guarded these past weeks.
"I couldn't look at you without wanting to stare deeply in your beautifully vivid eyes, telling me a story with a mere change in expression. I couldn't be near you without wanting to hold you close to me, your skin near mine, feeling the warmth of your skin against my own, and having the electricity of your silhouette tease my consciousness. I couldn't be with you without wanting so many things that I couldn't afford to desire."
I saw her expression change several times during my speech, but when I finished, she remained quiet. 
"You were the one who said you wanted to be friends and we couldn't continue what we had," she whispered, detecting her voice cracking slightly in the middle. 
"I know that."
"Then why did you say it? Didn't you want to be friends?" She appeared in pain when she posed this question to me, her face contorted in an uncomfortable stance. 
I sighed loudly. "It wasn't enough," I spoke so quietly, I wasn't sure she heard me. I felt her palm on my cheek, sending my body in an unprecedented frenzy. 
"So then why did you push me away?"
I looked at her and her eyes were so warm. "I told myself that you didn't feel the same way and that I couldn't allow myself to like you any longer."
She tossed her a coy smirk. "People can't explain it, but the heart wants what the heart wants."
I permitted myself to take her hand and hold it. I chuckled how preposterous it sounded, but seeing as I was saying stupid things and obviously not acting in my right mind, I asked her: "So, would you like to go to dinner tomorrow evening? That is, as long as you don't have anything planned."
Her response was lightning quick. "I have nothing planned." 


Italy and Switzerland

The last leg of my European adventure took place in Italy. Or rather, Italy, Austria, and Switzerland, but this was very special to me. In all honesty, every place I have visited thus far on my journey has been unique special and cherishing in its own way, but when I revisit places that have a home-like quality to them, it's refreshing. I was secretly hoping that during my time in Europe, I would eventually find myself in Switzerland or Italy, with vehement aspirations that I would revisit the lovely and beautiful scenery that has been close to my heart. Alas, it came to be when it was announced to me that we would be traveling over there for only a couple of days. A couple of days is all I needed.

A 11 hour car ride surprisingly went by incredibly fast. Passing through Hungary and Austria zoomed past us with its flat plains and then swerving hills and mountains. However, perhaps it was 33 degree (91 F) weather outside that kept every driver preoccupied on arriving home safely and taking a much needed albeit impromptu trek to the lake, as the incredibly hot weather is unheard of in the mountainous  regions in Europe. With everyone that stopped and chatted, it was unanimous: it was very hot. Apart from the irregularly mild weather, the drive was of little consequence or event.

We arrived at a quaint, family-owned pension (budget friendly apartment style villas) just outside of Innsbruck. The pension has a breathtaking view of the Austrian Alps as you open the window along with vivid flowers blooming along the windowsill. Now, I must pause and take a moment to discuss the breakfast menu. I am very much a food person--I greatly enjoy food, but I enjoy well-made and delicious food. For breakfast, there is a lovely spread with a cold meats platter consisting of smoked speck, prosciutto, Genoa salami, Havarti, and Emmentaler cheese, along with 3 different varieties of bread. The owner would personally come and big you good morning (guten morgen!) and offer you coffee, tea, or fresh orange juice. The hospitality was absolutely pleasant. The entire style of the pension was very much mountainside rustic style with modern appliances and decor. 

The first day was relatively very relaxed and tranquil; we spent the day in Switzerland. This was of course very exciting for me since it was my first time back in a year. My connection with the country runs very deep and I do consider it one of my homes. I feel very comfortable and at home in Switzerland. We went to Coop, the second largest retail and grocery supermarket and Switzerland and indulged in my favorites: mango Fanta, fresh croissants, and salivating over the Swiss cuisine (which included every single food article in the store). At this particular time, I realized that glancing at the meager mall with a limited number of stores would quickly get boring, so my sister decided (stupidly, might I add, on my part) to run in the pouring rain to the next shopping plaza only to comprehend that there was literally nothing to loo at. Or rather, that interested us, since it was a home store very similar to Ikea. Then, getting my outfit drenched even further, we leaped across the plaza to another nearby shopping mall. Purchasing an umbrella in the anticipation of using it, the rain stopped and we walked to Manor (a fashion retail store) with our clothes completely soaked. After that adventure, we ate lunch at a quaint restaurant that serves delicious pizza while enjoying the company and smell of fresh rain. It was a picturesque vista that reminded me of the exact reason why and how I fell in love with Switzerland in the first place: the peaceful feel of the country side, kind people, beautiful scenery, and delicious food. 

The next day, however, was the highlight of the trip. We ventured to Italy. Under an hour drive from Innsbruck, we stopped in Brunico, a resort town with a lovely town square. The town was bustling with excitement and activity since the country has vacation and there were tourists everywhere--sitting in cafes, enjoying a stroll, or biking. We stopped for a short while to enjoy the quiet and serene scenery. Afterward, we continued relatively close by to another town whose name escapes me to join an elderly man on a business lunch with my father. The entire conversation between my father and this man was in Italian, but that did not hinder the man's ability to express kindness and interest. Afterwards, since it was conveniently along the way to the Trento area, we explored and viewed the Dolomites. A breathtaking vista of jagged peaks and knife-like edges, indulging in this scenery was truly spectacular. Attempting to account the splendour and grandeur of the mountains is truly a formidable task. Hopefully the photos will be able to capture something words clearly cannot. 

Once touring the Dolomites had come to a close, we drove to Caldario, a small Italian town in the Trento area that is absolutely lovely. It is reminiscent of a classic Italian town, complete with vineyards everywhere, old rustic architecture, and gelato stands. Naturally, I did very Italian things while exploring Caldario: eating a pizza, indulging in a gelato, and talking for hours on end. We stood by the lake, which is a relatively small lake with a stepladder, with two hills in the background (while we were there, the sun was beginning to set and there was a beautiful contrast between the sun-kissed hills and the serene lake). A restaurant was overlooking the lake, so people were sitting down, conversing amongst themselves--laughing, eating, admiring, glancing. There was conversation everywhere but there was such communication and emotional intimacy buzzing in the atmosphere. It was evident that people did not merely meet to just eat, but rather to enjoy this moment in time together.

On the last day, I found myself in Switzerland again, only on a much more relaxed state. There was no business that needed to occur that day, so it was just time with my father and sister. This translated in going grocery shopping and stocking up on food articles not available in North America (or Eastern Europe, for that matter). Once the necessary purchase of cold meats, cheese, chocolate, and sweets were complete, we sat down for another pizza (yes, another pizza, because all I've eaten on this trip was pizza) at Churfisten. We sat outside and enjoy the warm afternoon sun. Whilst waiting for our food to arrive, the military had been released and I observed the flood of young men returning home after being in training. It was impeccable timing, since the moment the last few men boarded the train, the food arrived. Savoring every bite with its infusion of spices and flavor, eating is always like a refined culinary experience. Devouring the delicious frappe, I noticed a sweet young couple sitting adjacent from me. A young lady, with long blonde hair, arrived doed-eyed and delightfully in love with her boyfriend, a tall young man with short brown hair. Their interaction was particularly interesting. Rather than sit and stare at their phones while exchanging few to no words, they kept caressing each other's hands, holding them and feeling the sensation of a touch while talking. They talked a lot. But it wasn't an obnoxious, chatty banter. Rather, it was a sweet and irrevocably invested conversation about the everyday occurrences in each other's lives. But the entire time they talked or laughed, they held hands. It was so sweet and intimate. 

While reflecting on the this journey, I was painfully aware that seeing such sights, exploring such towns, and meeting such wonderful people is the entire meaning of traveling. It is not merely to say and report to friends that you have gone so and so, but rather to have an experience. To see, taste, touch, smell, and hear something something. Alas, it truly was. 


How Being in Europe Has Helped With My Confidence

As a precaution, you should know that this is a very transparent post. I have often deferred from such posts since I felt that being transparent with viewers on the internet would be a little odd. First, you have no idea who I am, so that stirred a sense of fear. And second, I wouldn't want to share my personal information with just anyone, never mind people on the web. However, all that seemed not to matter once I got a blog. Or more importantly, once I realized that my blog was my safe writing space (apart from my journal). Nonetheless, these are my thoughts--personal and otherwise--during my 3 month stay in Europe this summer.

As most people I interact with may know, I am spending my summer in Europe, or more specifically, Romania. This does sound rather luxurious, exotic, cultural, and whatever adjective you wish to insert, but I assure you, it's not as glamorous as it appears. It took a very long to adjust to the culture, the way of life, the method of thinking, the way people are, act, and speak, and how the country functions. It was more difficult to adjust simply because this was going to be a long haul. It's not a two week stay, like last year, where we switched on survival mode and got the heck out of there. On the contrary, it was going to be a longer stay in one place, so we better learn how things work around here. That was a very difficult task. Everyone in my family dealt with it differently--some stuffed it, while others vented their frustration more often (i.e. me). Things are done completely different than what I used to back in Canada and even the United States. People are different, the way things are done are entirely different, and the standard for things are different as well. Which brings me to my main point: my confidence suffered rather significantly as a result of this world I was thrusted in. Girls dress quite differently (and I say that as politely as I can), many women are thinner and more petite than I (although it can be argued whether skinny is equated to toned), and receive a lot of attention as a result from their, er, fashion choices. A tainted filter entered my perspective, causing to see myself in a negative light. However, regardless of the struggles I initially faced when I first arrived here, I realized, quite early on actually, that this is a good thing. A very good thing, in fact, and I'll tell you why.

1. I mentioned that the women in Europe in general are more petite and thinner, but that is not the result of a healthy lifestyle. Again, I'm not speaking about every single woman, but rather as a general. Most women drink a lot of coffee and usually smoke, causing their frames to be small and petite in number, but they are immersed in a stressful environment. The smoking and excessive coffee drinking eventually begins to have a toll on the body. So, while they be skinny, they are not fit. I took it upon myself to simply observe the thin women on the street. I will not say all, but a good majority of them are not fit. Meaning, they are not toned, their bodies are not trim, and it shows they do not lead a healthy and active lifestyle. The little meat on their bones jiggles, expressing that they engage in little physical exercise. At first, I was very angry and envious. What do you mean that they barely work out and look like little twigs and here I am, working 3-4 times a week in the gym and I'm still not thin? Then, the little lightbulb in my head flashed. I have to accept that I have a specific body shape that cannot be altered (nor do I want to), but if I want to look the best that I can be, then I should do something about it. I constantly looked at pictures on Pinterest with girls that had a significantly smaller frame than I. I could grumble under my breath how I desired to look like that. However, when I was at the gym, I stuck to cardio, thinking the calories would be burned and the weight would drop. Alas, that didn't prove very successful. Especially with the wave of women that entered my sights and seeing their frames, I was motivated to change things up. However, with no gym and a small apartment proved rather difficult to begin an intense regime. Fortunately, my sister packed the Insanity workout regime. Thus began the journey to push my body as far as it can, knowing that I can be better. I can do better, I can push harder, and I can sweat for longer. I can made tremendous improvements; as encouraging as the progress has been, I still have a little more to go. My goal is losing 15 pounds so I can be truly satisfied with my weight loss. I've made quite a dent, but I will not stop until it's reached. I've noticed that as my tops and pants get looser and looser, I am encouraged by how I look. Moreover, I am falling in love with how I look.

2. As a result of working out hardcore, I can now wear clothes I've always wanted to wear but couldn't. The moment when I put that top on and I fit into (and it's loose!) was a beautiful moment. But it's not merely wearing clothes I've wanted to wear. My confidence grew stronger, prompting me to wear more prints and bold prints. I like the cool, classic, and neutral vide Western Europe has, while Eastern Europe is concerned with bright colors, prints, and flowy details. Wearing more pops of color and purchasing more garments with prints on them tell me that I am secure in my body. But, honestly, it's more about the prints and how it looks on me. Light colors contrast my dark tan and prints fall nicely on my frame. The clothing market sells different pieces that I would never find back home, pushing me to step out of my comfort zone, fashion wise. While I lean towards the classic and cool style, I find that prints are slowly becoming part of my wardrobe.

3. In conjunction with my burgeoning wardrobe and working out, I am more excited to wear them on the streets. I need to pause right here and point that the men in Romania stare. I can gotten more angry and furious at the incessant staring than anything else in this country. I'd be walking in shorts, maxi skirt, or a dress, and yet, they still feel that I am a piece of meat. It really bothered me at first, but at this point, my perspective is if they're going to look (since it is inevitable), I should feel flattered that they are glancing at something dressed in appropriate clothing, flatters my shape, and shows that classy doesn't mean outdated. The girls here expose a lot of skin and in contrast, I do not like expose an excessive amount of skin (as that is my personal preference). So the difference of clothing choices also inevitably sets me apart, and I have accepted that. But at the same time, that also says something flattering regarding how I look, my shape, and how I'm dressed, and as much as I find the attention annoying, I take it as a complement (most of the time).