it's better to say too much

044. Rockin’ around the Ringstraße*

On Thursday I arrived in the land of the Habsburgs, giant pretzels (bretzels), many, many palaces and where (on a more serious note) Hitler developed his ideologies that would make it into Mein Kampf and change the world forever, a.k.a Vienna, Austria. Welcome to part one of my Wien adventures (with little history tidbits from Professor Valentine)…

Lessons learned: a) I tend to not eat the traditional food of the places I’m going to (Indian in Czech Republic, pan-Asian in Austria…), b) I am the supreme navigator of all big cities, I swear. I can walk somewhere once, take the metro once and I know where I’m going even if I don’t speak a single Czech or German word, and c) Vienna is so much more expensive than Czech Republic. Holy moly.

We got on the bus around 8:30am and arrived in Vienna about two hours later. After storing out luggage at our Wombat hostel (if you’re ever traveling and you need a hostel and there’s a Wombat in your area, book it. They’re beautiful), we headed out for the first day of our two day tour of the city with our fabulous tour guide Jeff. Our first stop? The famous Naschmarkt, the Kensington Market (in Toronto, I don’t know the Vancouver equivalent) of Vienna, where I had this for lunch:

Lunch at the Naschmarkt

Post sausage and fries, we stopped in the Secession building which is the hallmark of the Secession art period (google it, it’s interesting) where I saw this three-wall frieze based on Beethoven’s 5th symphony by Gustavo Klimt. On our way to the Kunsthistoriches Museum built by Emperor Franz Joseph to house the imperial family’s art collection, we passed by the Akademie der bildenden Künste Wien (Academy of Fine Arts Vienna) where, fyi, Adolf Hitler was rejected from twice. The Kunsthistorisches Museum is actually two buildings (although we only went into one) that has this fantastic statue of “Emperess” Maria Theresa sandwiched between them.

In front of the Kunsthistoriches Museum (with Maria Theresa chillin in the backgound)

The museum itself houses the most ridiculous collection of beautiful art, from frescos by Kimt, to Renaissance painters like Titian, Carveggio, Renault, and Albrecht Dürer (whom I learned about in HIST 220, whooa connections!).

Dürer's All Saints Picture

We ended our first day at Stephenplatz (or the square with St. Stephen’s Catherdral) after passing by the Habsburg’s winter palace and the Neue Burg where Hitler announced the annexation of Austria in March 1938.

Neue Burg

The evening was a little less crammed with history and involved breakdancing, schnitzelburgers, the best gelato and wine gardens.

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May 26, 2012   No Comments

043. Dobrý den from Telč, Czech Republic*

From now until June 21st, I’ll be blogging about my time in Central Europe. I hope you enjoy my adventures. 

*Hello from Telč, Czech Republic! (Pronounced “telch”, fyi). I’m writing from a small historic town about two hours from Prague.

My room in Telč (with my friend John in the background)

Now you might be asking yourself, why is Krystal so far from home? Well, my dear friends, I’m completing a 6-credit History course abroad through the University of Toronto’s Summer Abroad program. They have a ton of courses all over the world and you can apply as a visiting student (super easy process), check it out if you think it’s something you’re interested in.

How the course works
For 5 weeks we(my classmates and I) will be travelling to the Czech Republic, Austria, Poland and Hungary while learning about the imperial cities of Vienna, Wrocław, Prague and Budapest. The first five days are spent in Telč, and then we transfer to our home base at Masaryk University (named after Czechoslovakia’s first President) in Brno, Czech Republic. Classes are from Monday-Wednesday for three hours in the morning and then we have the afternoons free (unless there’s a planned activity) and we travel to the different cities on the Thursday and come back on the Saturday/Sunday. There’s a lot of reading, but only two assignments (one short, one long(er)) and an exam, which is awesome for a full year course.

What I’ve been up to
My parents dropped me off at Toronto Pearson Airport and I got on my super short eight and a half our flight (sarcasm alert) on Austrian Airlines. (BTW: Austrian Airlines has those chunky TVs hanging from the ceiling where everyone watches the same movie (ca. 1992), which is not awesome for an eight+ hour flight, but I survived.) Landed in Vienna around 8:15am, and transferred to Telč by 1pm, got all settled in, and roamed the super, super small town. My favourite part of this place is the small Pizzeria Italia restaurant where I get to practice my Italian in Czech Republic (I know right?!) with the wonderful chef Angelo.  After being up for more than 24 hours, I was out like a light by 9pm.

Telč (all the buildings look different!)

Pizza from Pizzeria Italia. Thanks, Angelo!

I had my first lecture today, went back to the Pizzeria, realized that I did not take enough Czech Koruna (their currency) out of the bank, and learned a little survival Czech. Currently sitting in my room, being introduced to my roommate’s mix of Deadmau5, Steve Aoki and Skrillex (a deviation from my Florence and the Machine, Lights and Mumford and Sons) and trying to decide what to get for dinner tonight.

Na shledanou! (Goodbye!)

May 16, 2012   2 Comments

042. Here comes the sun, do da doo doo.

Or not. Because I woke up to sun, blue skies and chirping birds and ended up with torrential downpour by 2pm. I swear, Vancouver does not understand what rain really is. I also forgot how much I missed thunder and lightening. It’s kind of terrifyingly beautiful. Look at me,  getting all poetic and stuff…

Anyway, since my last blog post I’ve said goodbye to my RezLife family at our year end banquet, watched all the hard work and long hours the Women’s and Gender Studies Student Association/F-Word Planning Committee put into planning the 3rd Annual F-Word Conference pay off on the day of (Note: It was an epic day of 6:30am-10:30pm epicness. I love love love the feminist community at UBC and in Vancouver with all my heart. I’ve never felt more like myself surrounded by that planning committee. I’m beyond sad I won’t be able to attend next year because I’ll be in Australia), and caught a 7am flight to Ontario. Phew.

I’ve now been back at home for 10 days and it’s been an equal balance of doing stuff and doing nothing at all. First off, I slept for 15 hours the day I got home. It was glorious. I’ve been to downtown Toronto three times and shopped a little (or a lot). I visited one of my favourite high school teachers and was surprised ten-fold by the maturity and awesomeness of her grade 10 class and felt even more motivated to pursue my goal of becoming a teacher. Finally experienced that deliciousness of Menchies Frozen Yogurt (there’s one coming to Wesbrook Village, be still my wallet). I got to see one of my best friends that I met at UBC in first year but lives 10 minutes away from where my dad works in Ontario (yeah, work that one out). Started my readings for my summer course I’m doing abroad and tried to start packing for said trip (I’ll explain all in my next post!). I’ve also spent full days lying in bed browsing the internet, watching movies and occasionally getting up to make something to eat.

It’s been equal parts lonely, awesome, exhausting and boring.

Hope everyone’s been enjoying their first week of summer!

May 9, 2012   No Comments

041. A new addition to my family

Say hello to my beautiful new plant named Pansy (because the flowers are in fact, pansies). She will take her place next to my beautiful, albeit dying orchid Lola (I’m trying to revive her, I swear!). Pansy came into my family through a random act of kindness from another small team of Advisors in Vanier. Actually, from the same house duo (Okanagan/Cariboo) that I lived in as a resident last year. I love that everyone who knows anything about me knows how much I love owls and giraffes. Pansy’s so beautiful and I’m so excited to have her join the Valentine famjam.

Unfortunately, Lola's a little withered.

I love her already.

March 18, 2012   1 Comment

040. Where in the world is Krystal going?

And where the heck has she been?

I’m sorry I’ve been so out of the loop. The chaos of my life picked up almost as soon as I landed at YVR after Winter Break. I figured post-Reading Break was a good time to catch you up on all the shenanigans I’ve been getting up to.

In January, I kicked off the month with the ‘F’ Word Planning Committee Retreat with the Women’s and Gender Studies Student Association. The ‘F’ Word Conference is a FREE conference on April 28th, 2012  and a chance for WAGS students, and students from other faculties and universities to engage in some awesome discussions with various panelists, student-led workshops presentations and  community organization workshops. I’m the Communications Co-Coordinator, so my job is to build and maintain the website, Twitter and Facebook accounts, and the print media with my wonderful partner-in-communications. So that’s been keeping my busy for the past two months.

Jump forward to February 17th, and I’m leaving on a (jet) plane for California. I spent four full days exploring all that SoCal had to offer with my best friend from Ontario (who currently goes to UBCO) and two of her friends. I had been there before with her in 2009, and on a whim asked if she’d be up to Californ-i-a part deux. We went to Santa Monica and Venice Beach (where I did all my shopping),

Santa Monica

the Natural History Museum (where we took a slight unplanned detour through the University of Southern California),

The cutest little guy at the Natural History Museum

Hollywood Blvd (including Grauman’s Chinese Theatre where I got to see the lovely cast of HP’s hand and footprints),

The Trio's prints in Hollywood

Disneyland (I got a picture with Mickey!),

The big "cheese" himself, Mickey Mouse

and the beaches of Orange County. Best (and first) trip of 2012 (but not the last!).

I’ve also had countless interviews and applications to fill out as I try to build some sort of plan for the upcoming academic year and finalize summer plans. As it stands:  1) I will be going to Europe for 5 weeks in May, 2) I’m still looking for a summer job, 3) you will find me back at Place Vanier for another term of Advising before I 4) go on exchange to Australia (Macquarie University in Sydney)! So if you’re looking for me in term two of next year, you’ll have to make the trek to find me. I am so beyond excited! It still feels super surreal and a part of me is wondering what the heck I just got myself into, mostly because it was an abstract idea before it became an actual reality and I’m not sure if I was prepared for said reality to hit my like a tonne of sparkly, beautiful bricks. But I’m more stoked than not.

I have some more interviews and applications to fill out. So, wish me luck and I’ll update you all soon.

Hope you enjoyed your Reading Break!

March 1, 2012   5 Comments