Don’t be another brick in the wall.
Amsterdam, The Netherlands. June 2013.
Amsterdam is one of my favourite cities. I didn’t think it would be. When I first visited back in 2002 (I was thirteen), I was with my family and my cousins’ family, and we kids didn’t really have any idea what was going on, where we were going or had any say in the itinerary. All I remember from that trip was walking through red light district at night, taking a canal cruise and some foggy memories of what the city looked like.
At thirteen, I didn’t really care as much about travel, or appreciated the fact that I was in Europe, and was lucky enough to go to all those amazing places. To a tween, it was a lame summer spent away from my friends and missing out on all the inside jokes and whatnot.
I really wish I could remember more of that trip–I’ve realised that my travel memories are stronger (less ‘pixelated’, somehow) after I turned fourteen or so. If I had known that I would miss those memories so much, I would definitely have kicked my brain into hyper mode to try to absorb everything. But alas, my mental scrapbook of travel pre-13/14-years-old are not as comprehensive as I would like. That condition (or is it a superpower) where a person is able to access 100% of their brain? Yeah, that would help.
There is that moment before you leave home when it hits you that sh*t just got real. It’s nothing like the subtle, nostalgic or emotional cues I’ve been getting over the last few weeks; this one was like a comical anvil to the face–primarily because it came in the form of payments.
Meaning, I actually plugged in my CVV codes to pay for stuff for real and not just for safety booking purposes. I finalised my flights, train tickets, apartment… Before this, everything was tentative–reservations and bookings without the actual payment part yet. Paying makes it all final and legit, like I really can’t back out now, even if I wanted to (which I don’t).
I can’t help but feel a wave of near-panic creeping towards me as I get closer to D-Day. My original flight became full so I had to book a ticket for a day earlier (which isn’t that big a deal, but doesn’t help with the panic wave). My student visa has yet to be released, so that’s another panic bomb. I still have to get my license renewed before I go, have another medical check-up, get myself another portable hard drive, and bring my stuff to the dry cleaners. Somewhere in the midst of all that chaos, I have to find time to meet up and say hi/bye to people.
Cloning or astral projection sound like good ideas right now.
Budapest, Hungary. May 2012.
Budapest was so different from how I pictured it in my head–it has its share of battle scars (some buildings still bear bullet holes and whatnot from the war), but overall, the impression I got was of a beautiful, modern-but-also-classic/vintage and bustling city that was clean, green and definitely somewhere I could see myself living in, at some point or other.
It kinda creeps me out that they’re called dental ‘mechanics’. Like a dentist isn’t scary enough.
Bergen, Norway. June 2013.
An optimistic opinion on trash
Ávila, Spain. April 2014.
I went on a lightning tour of Ávila back in April, and I have but a lone capture of street art to show for it. I think that this captured my attention because of its sheer randomness (passing by and being all, “ooh, lemon.”–yes, random), but also because it’s a strange juxtaposition of sorts of two styles. Modern, clean and almost stencil-like versus old-school, raw street typography. It doesn’t need to mean anything; it’s just interesting.
Yes, I waited for this day in particular to be able to use that as a title. And no, this photo has nothing to do with the title or with Italy (it’s from Volendam, The Netherlands)–it just seemed like the apt photographic accompaniment.
Less than a month before The Departure (it just seemed fitting to Capitalise That) and the tendrils of panic and anxiety are beginning to swirl around my feet, waiting for me to trip up and drown in it somehow. I had my visa appointment at the Italian Embassy the other day, and *fingers crossed* I think it all went pretty well. In order to obtain a study visa, which is classified as a National Visa (visa Type D), there were a bunch of additional requirements and paperwork that I needed to prepare.
People who need visas for going pretty much everywhere (read about my frustrations here) will share my feelings of anxiety with regard to the whole Schengen visa application process, particularly with the amount of paperwork and additional costs/hassle. Well, imagine the workload you need for a tourist visa–then roughly double it–that is the amount of preparation and panicking a study visa entails.