Photo Obsession

While I was visiting Australia’s Red Centre a few weeks ago, there were stretches around the base of Uluru where you are asked not to take photos. This is because the land is sacred to the Aboriginal people and it’s sort of like scripture, and is meant to be viewed in its original location. It struck me that our culture (What does that even mean? Who is “our”? I don’t know!!) is obsessed with photographs. When I take a step back, the hordes of people all with their cameras up do look a little silly.

I'm also guilty of taking plenty of photos... (At Uluru)

I’m also guilty of taking plenty of photos… (At Uluru)

During the very long bus ride back to Alice Springs (the Australian desert is massive!), all I could think about were photos, and why we take them. Should we take them? Is it good or bad? Does it matter? I thought of a few reasons why we take photographs:

  • Vanity, and as trophies to show off.
  • To garner more likes and popularity on social media.
  • To remember experiences.
  • To fit into a culture which is inundated with photos; everyone has pictures, they’re in ads and in the media, shouldn’t you also have some?
  • To make art.
  • For fun.

I’m sure there are a bazillion other reasons, and if you can think of some, please post them in the comments.  Then I thought of some reasons why photos might be considered as a bad thing:

  • They can be obtrusive, for example if you’re in someone’s way.
  • You are not getting the full experience by viewing through a camera screen.
  • In food pictures, you may be holding up the restaurant and your food may get cold.
  • It can be disrespectful if you’re taking a picture of something someone doesn’t want you to.
  • On one of our tours in Australia one fellow was taking gratuitous pictures of the bus, and it nearly left without him.

I was talking to a friend of mine about it, and she said, “If someone wants to take pictures, I’m not going to hate them for it. And I don’t buy into the whole idea that if you don’t put your phone away you’re going to have an incomplete life experience.”

Overall, I’ve come to the conclusion that although some reasons for taking pictures may not be as “noble” as others, as long as you aren’t being obnoxious to someone else when you are taking photos, it’s okay. It’s not illegal for you to want to have some nice looking photos of yourself, or to show your peers or colleagues what an awesome vacation you had. Taking pictures is not really a good thing or a bad thing. It’s just a choice for a person to make.


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Return from Oz

Hello there! ISo far this summer I’ve been taking a break from blogging because I wanted to stop thinking of how to turn my life into a text post for a while. I just got back from a family trip to Australia, which was AMAZING. The whole experience was unforgettable and just, wow. What a beautiful country.

A few of my favourite parts:

  • The World Harp Congress in Sydney –  This was, in fact the reason for us going to Australia. It was inspiring and I learned a TON. Hoping my new practicing skills will give me an edge this year.
  • The Penguin Parade – We went to an island near Melbourne and saw hundreds of little penguins waddle right past us, out of the water and into their burrows on land. Magical.
  • A wild cockatoo landed on my shoulder – We were at a place were you could feed them and there were about four of them on me at one point.
  • The outback – We saw Uluru, Kata Tjuta, and Kings Canyon. The red desert is so beautiful, and I got to learn a lot about the aboriginal culture, which was my favourite part of the outback. One thing I thought was interesting was that there were very few plants in the desert, but nearly all of them were very powerful and nourishing, whereas in the rainforest there were tons of plants but most of them would kill you if you tried to eat them.
  • Snorkelling on the Great Barrier Reef – I did not expect snorkelling to be as crazily beautiful as it was. I just stuck my face in the water, and BAM I can see clearly through the water and there’s fish and coral right there, and hey that fish is like ten centimetres away from me. WOW. At one point our guide led us through a shallow area and I started drifting and the coral seemed about a foot away from me and I swear if I moved any of my limbs I would have wrecked EVERYTHING if the guide hadn’t come and towed me away. That was a bit scary. But gosh, coral is so beautiful. It makes me so sad that worldwide it is dying due to climate change.

This summer has been a restful one. I decided not to work because of my long-ish trip, which I’m okay with because it meant during my last real summer vacation ever I got lots of time to relax and have fun.

Now that I’ve bragged enough about my summer, how was yours? Let me know in the comments. :)

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My Work Study – Ushering

This year I was fortunate enough to land a Work Study position as an usher/front of house person for the School of Music’s Wednesday Noon Hour concert series. It was a really great experience and right now I am going to tell you why in the form of a bulleted list because frankly I like bulleted lists:

  • My coworkers were lovely and my boss was incredibly kind. Many times she said to me, “Have I told you how glad I am to have you on the team?”
  • The work was enjoyable and related to my field. If I ever want to put on my own concert or help someone else put one on, or if I want to go into concert production, I know how to do it.
  • I got to listen to lots of great musicians.
  • Sometimes, if there were evening concerts, I’d get to eat reception food. Nom nom nom.
  • The hours were very manageable (on average two hours per week, for my particular position) and fit right into my class schedule.
  • The pay was good.
  • I was given plenty of opportunity to grow and to take responsibility, without feeling overwhelmed and still having support when I needed it.
  • I definitely improved my problem solving skills.

Overall a very positive experience and I look forward to going back next year!

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One Recital Down

Last Saturday, I performed in my first solo recital as a part of my third year course requirements. I have to say, leading up to the performance I was quite nervous and very stressed out, and I felt like there was no way I’d be ready in time. But, thanks to practicing performing for the other harp students at studio classes, recording myself, and visualizing the recital, the whole thing really well.

Somehow, by the time I got on stage, I wasn’t even nervous anymore. Well, hardly, anyway. I made some mistakes, but that’s pretty normal. I think I dealt with them well, and I played a lot of parts really really well, and that’s more important than a couple of little errors. I’m really proud of all the hard work I put in and I managed to pull off a great performance of a very difficult set of pieces.

My parents flew in from Winnipeg for the weekend to watch me perform, and we did some Vancouver sight-seeing. (I finally went to the Capilano Suspension Bridge! It’s pretty awesome, you should go if you have a chance.) They also fixed the lamp in my apartment and my mom mended my stockings for me, heh heh.

A lot of my friends came to watch me perform as well, although there was one small glitch; there is an elderly woman who attends nearly everyone’s recitals, and she takes it upon herself to hand out programs before the performances. What I didn’t know, backstage, was that she was keeping everyone outside because she thought I wasn’t ready for them to come in! There I was, thinking, “It’s five minutes before my recital, why is no one here?! Have I been forsaken by all of my friends?!”

Of course, it worked out. I’m very happy with how much I’ve improved since arriving at UBC, and I’m very lucky to have so many people who came out to support me. Now I get to take a break from practicing, and then start planning the program for my final recital next year!

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Third Year Recital

As part of the performance major in the Bachelor of Music degree, third and fourth year students are required to put on a solo recital at the end of the year. Mine is in a week! If you’ve got some free time and would like to listen to harp music for a little while, feel free to come :)


When: Saturday, April 12, at 2:30pm

Where: Roy Barnett Recital Hall, UBC School of Music, 6361 Memorial Road

What: Pieces for harp by Bach, Smetana, and Debussy.

There will also be a reception afterwards. Who doesn’t like free food?

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Belgium was a blast. I had so much fun while I was there, saw a lot of new places, ate a lot of really good food, failed epicly at speaking French, and actually was the least stressed I’ve been in ages. (When I came back I had actually lost a bit of weight because of the lack of stress.)

Before we had left for Belgium, Go Global put on a “pre-departure session” for us, part of which involved group dynamics, and acknowledging how others work and think to aid in problem solving. To be honest, I didn’t really think out group needed it since we’d been working together since September and knew each other by now. However, when we got to Belgium, there were more clashes within groups than I thought there would be. Turns out those problem solving lessons came in handy. (I hope?)

The trip also came with some career development. I got to meet up with a harpist in Belgium who I’d met once in Vancouver, who now will be an international contact for the future. I also got to perform at a concert in Belgium which would be good to put on a CV – international performance experience.

And besides all of that, I made friends while I was away. Friends who I will continue to see and talk to now that I’m back in Canada. As a person who finds it difficult to make friends, this is really valuable to me.

I guess what I’m saying is that a Go Global experience is much more than a trip to see the world.

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A few more things from Belgium

  1. Waiters take your orders for drinks and food separately.
  2. Brussels is very large and my feet hurt a lot.
  3. Met the woman who is renting her harp to me during this trip and who I met in Vancouver last October – she has a really cool performance space in her apartment and an awesome electric ramp for getting harps up the stairs! Also apparently her husband/partner/friend (I didn’t ask) is a famous Belgian glassmaker. Cool.
  4. We went to the Musical Instrument Museum and there were ocarinas there the size of a large cat! Huge!
  5. Saw above and below ground palaces.
  6. Waffles are consistently delicious.
  7. Went to Bruges, very beautiful city. Much more green space, open area, and water than Mons or Brussels. If I had to pick a place in Belgium to live, I would pick Bruges.
  8. Made friends :)

Sorry, I would post more but I spent all day yesterday and today in Brussels and Bruges and I’m real tired.

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Live from Belgium

Hello from Belgium! A few things of note since I have arrived:

  1. Most restaurants in Europe (or at least Belgium) don’t give you free water. You have to pay for bottled water.
  2. Cobblestones are hard on the feet.
  3. Mons, the town/city we are staying in, is roughly the size of UBC campus.
  4. No matter what you think, you cannot totally escape jetlag.
  5. Belgian waffles are delicious and basically function like donuts in Canada and the US.
  6. All bread found in Belgium is amazing.
  7. People really like their sandwiches here. And they are made on baguettes so why wouldn’t they?


I was going to upload a photo with this post, but the uploader is not working so you’re just going to have to wait!


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At the Airport

Currently I am sitting in the airport waiting to board the plane which will take to London, and from there to Belgium.

I am incredibly excited, but before I left the house today I don’t think I had really internalized the fact that I was travelling so far away.

As my friends hugged me and waved goodbye, told me to have fun and travel safe, suddenly I realized that I’d never been so far away from my family and friends, and I wouldn’t even be able to use my phone to text my boyfriend while I was away. I mean, Vancouver is already halfway across Canada from home, but we’re talking a separate continent! Suddenly I felt quite small and quite alone.

I got to the airport and suddenly felt like,  oh my gosh, no one is going to talk to me the entire trip and I’ll just awkwardly be doing stuff by myself. Totally unfounded, and not something I was feeling for the last several weeks leading up to the trip.

Now that we’re through security, I feel a little more settled and I’m not too worried about being far away or alone. I’m feeling excited and happy to be here.

Basically, I’ve decided that whatever happens, I am going to keep a good attitude and have a good time. Not everything will go perfectly, but if I can keep a smile on my face I’m going to have a blast. More to come from Belgium!

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Three Days Til Belgium!

After many months of preparation and anticipation, I will be leaving for Belgium this Saturday! Needless to say, I am mega excited.

The preparation phase has been kind of hectic, as there are a lot of things you need to do before going overseas. Pay for flights, buy insurance, get currency, make photocopies of documents, pack, sign up for the student registry (a list of UBC students overseas so that if something bad happens in a country, eg. the tsunami in Japan, UBC knows where you are and helps you get home), keep up with coursework, and then annoying unexpected things such as forgetting your duffle bag on a bus and then having to go all the way downtown to pick it up from the Translink Lost and Found office. (Yes, this happened. To be honest though, I’m just happy that it got turned in.)

I am so stoked to be going on this trip! After finding out that exchange wouldn’t work for me, I thought I’d never get an opportunity like this in my undergraduate degree. I am so thankful to Dr. Bob and everyone at the School of Music and Go Global and UBC in general who made this happen!


P.S. There will be pics. At some point. Don’t know if I’ll have time to blog in Belgium.

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