The Grand Finale

Study Abroad

ITMC Graduation @ NHTV Breda University Of Applied Sciences (July 2016)

My year of studying abroad at NHTV Breda University of Applied Sciences has been one filled with many firsts. Along with making new friends, exploring new campuses, and cycling to university as a daily routine, I learned so many new concepts and valuable lessons. My academic focus was mostly on international marketing, customer relationship management, travel photography, arts based tourism, and different perspectives of the tourism industry.

I am excited to announce that I received the best grades of my academic career while studying here, with a 3.9 of 4.0 GPA and a weighted average of 8.8. In addition, my independent undergraduate research about mapping the street art culture of Amsterdam has received a lot of attention. I graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree, focused on International Tourism Management and Consultancy on July 1st, 2016. As my family couldn’t be present, some of my great friends came to support me which made me very happy. I have been lucky to be surrounded by some pretty amazing people this year.


ITMC Graduation @ NHTV Breda University Of Applied Sciences (July 2016)

I am very grateful and honoured to have been the first student from Thompson Rivers University to take place in the new double degree program with this internationally acclaimed Dutch university. I have nothing but great things to say about my experiences here, and I am looking forward to meeting the Dutch exchange students in the coming years, as well as following future TRU students’ journeys exploring this beautiful city.

In the future, I will be spending my summer here in Breda and travelling through the Netherlands and Belgium. After my return to Canada, I will be travelling throughout Vancouver Island with my parents before finishing my last year of my Bachelor of Tourism Management degree at Thompson Rivers University.

Lastly, I’d like to thank everyone who has supported me throughout this academic journey. You are truly the best!

Drum Roll, Please…

Study Abroad

NHTV Breda University Of Applied Sciences (June 2016)

I am delighted to announce that this afternoon I completed the final step in my undergraduate thesis research. I defended my thesis in a room with two external examiners present and my supervisor with whom I have worked closely on this project with. I was nothing short of nervous, and I had been stressing over this presentation for some time, however, I received very positive outcomes on this project. With one of the top marks, my written work was given a grade of 9.5 and my oral presentation was given a grade of 9, which averaged out to a solid 9. This is considered to be very high, as an average grade is a 7, and 10’s are extremely rare. I was in shock with a huge smile on my face when my supervisor told me this news! (The smile is permanently glued to my face now, of course!) All of the comments were very good and it was commented that my excitement for my topic really shined through in every word. That’s such a lovely compliment. Wow!

Overall, this has been a fascinating process for me, to independently research and make so many connections in Amsterdam’s underground realm of street art. I have not spent this much time (nearly six months) focusing on one project, but it was worth every moment of it. I could not have done this without the help of supportive friends and family members, and all of the incredible contacts I have met throughout my research.

I will post my thesis online in the near future, after one last final review, so that everyone may have a chance to download and read it. Many celebrations will be had throughout this week, including a graduation ceremony with my fellow International Tourism Management & Consultancy classmates. Exciting times are ahead!

Video Blog – June 2016

Inspiration, Study Abroad, Travel

Well, June has been another month of exciting adventures to say the least! A lot of miserable rain, incredible live music (such as Paul McCartney and The Red Hot Chilli Peppers), numerous birthday celebrations, camping, getting lost a few times, and exploring new cities in the far south of Holland and Germany.

“Take me to the docks, there’s a ship without a name there,
And it is sailing to the middle of the sea.
The water there is deeper than anything you’ve ever seen…
Jump right in and swim until you’re free.

I will remember your face,
‘Cause I am still in love with that place.
But when the stars are the only things we share…
Will you be there?

Money came like rain to your hands while you were waiting,
For that cold long promise to appear.
People in the churches started singing above their hands,
They say, “My God is a good God and He cares”.

I’ve got a plan, I’ve got an atlas in my hands.
I’m gonna turn when I listen to the lessons I’ve learned.
I’ve got a plan, I’ve got an atlas in my hands.
I’m gonna turn when I listen to the lessons I’ve learned.”

Growth Happens In The Valleys

Inspiration, Study Abroad, Travel

Eygelshoven, The Netherlands (June 2016)

“Change is hard at first, messy in the middle, and gorgeous at the end.” 
– Robin Sharma

Change is a beautiful thing. Really, it was a scary thing for me when I boarded a plane and moved to a country that I’ve never been to by myself last August. As my time is slowly winding down here, I can see such dramatic changes in who I am right now compared to who I was. It is a beautiful transformation to reflect upon. Now, not only am I totally content to not bathe for three days and go camping with people I’ve only just met… (see the post camping/music festival selfie from above), but I have learned how to love myself, make healthy choices in my lifestyle, find balance, look at everything from different points of view, and thrive in saying yes to new experiences. I’ve travelled, mostly alone, to ten different countries in the past ten months. I’ve seen beautiful works of art, both in museums and in the natural world, experienced many other cultures through food, language, art, landscapes, and mostly importantly, by meeting new people. When I first arrived in Amsterdam, I had never stayed in a hostel before. Looking back, I had no expectations on what was to come, but I am grateful for every moment and I wouldn’t change a single thing. Change, it’s a crazy, beautiful thing.

Happy Birthday To Me!

News, Study Abroad

Birthday Girls! (Breda, The Netherlands, June 2016)

It was a great experience to celebrate my birthday abroad with friends from around the world. I felt the love from my friends and family back home, and I know that I’m simply blessed to know so many incredible human beings. My friend, Dominika, who is from Poland, also celebrated her birthday in the same week as I did. In this photo, we are holding gifts that we received. Each is a bottle of wine with glitter in it to look like a magical potion. I’m pretty sure it’s too beautiful (and fun to play with) to consume. This past year abroad has been the best I’ve ever had, and while I am grateful for all of the good times and bad times, I know that my twenty seventh year on this planet will have even more adventures, laughter, smiles, tough lessons, and hopefully, a few surprises as well.

Video Blog – May 2016

Inspiration, Study Abroad, Travel

Instead of uploading photos and telling you about what I’ve been up to, I thought this time I would show you. In three minutes and forty two seconds, you will glimpse into a month of my adventures in Breda, Tilburg, Utrecht, Eindhoven, Den Hague, Kinderdijk, Gouda, Brussels, Sliema, Gozo, Valletta, Mdina, Rabat… and maybe a few other destinations.

“I had a dream so big and loud.
I jumped so high I touched the clouds.
I stretched my hands out to the sky.
We danced with monsters through the night.

I’m never going to look back. 
Whoa, I’m never going to give it up. 
No, please don’t wake me now.
This is going to be the best day of my life.”

Remembering & Celebrating The Fallen

Study Abroad, Travel

In The Netherlands, on May 4th, is a day called Dodenherdenking, which means ‘remembrance of the dead’. On this day, around the country, services are held and two minutes of silence are observed to commemorate all civilians and members of the armed forces who have died in wars or peacekeeping missions since the outbreak of World War Two. In Amsterdam, at the Dam Square Memorial, the King and Queen stood vigilant with thousands of on lookers to remember these brave souls.

The following day, is known as Bevrijdingsdag, and is a national holiday to celebrate the end of the Nazi Germany occupation. The nation was liberated largely by the First Canadian Army, which included British I Corps, the first Polish Armoured Division, and in some areas, American, Belgian, Dutch and Czechoslovak troops. Across the Netherlands, free public music festivals were held in honour of celebrating freedom. Most people do not have to go to work, and many are adorned in orange and the country’s national colours, red, white, and blue. Celebrations of big and small are all over the country, as in Utrecht, I saw thousands of people in line for a music festival and in Tilburg, I saw a group of friends who had sat outside on the street curb in lawn chairs drinking cold beverages. Later that night, I was cycling home from seeing a film, and I could hear the British anthem playing loudly on a sound system somewhere in the city centre, echoing over the sleeping rooftops.


An Adorned War Memorial (Utrecht, May 2016)

In my opinion, it is really a beautiful contrast to see such somber thoughts moved to overwhelming joy over these two days. I’m moved, really, to love such a proud nation who have overcome so much since this time period. I am so proud to say that I am Canadian, and so please to spend time celebrating such a special occasion with a country that now call my second home.

As many of you may know, last December, I won a scholarship in honour of the Liberation. This is also another reason why I am so moved by this occasion, as over seventy years later, this incredible moment of history has affected my life in a way that I never thought possible.

Take a look at some iconic photos of Liberation day, be grateful for everything and everyone you have in your life in this present moment, and remember.

When This Adventure Ends

Study Abroad, Travel

Hallo vrienden!

I was inspired to make a short film about my life here in the Netherlands. You can see a bit about what my every day looks like, from my friends, to transportation, to festivals, studying, arts and culture, and other activities. Most of the footage used is from the city where I live (Breda), Amsterdam, Den Hague, Utrecht, and Den Bosch. Genieten!

“When this adventure ends, your next one will begin.”

Kings Day. Best Day.

Events, Study Abroad, Travel

Kings Day is by far one of the best days to be in The Netherlands!


Kings Day (Breda, April 2016)

I was lucky and one of my very best friends surprised me with a gift for my first of hopefully many Kings Days to come. In the gift was assorted silly clothing to wear, all orange of course, orange tinted sunglasses, a crown, balloons, chalk, and tasty Dutch treats. For breakfast, we had a puff pasty filled with slaagroom called tompauce. These are decorated with orange icing especially for this holiday. Fun fact, there is a 600% increase in sales of tompauce on this holiday compared to any other day. I shared much of my candy and sweets with my room mates as well, and we decorated our flat with orange balloons.

The holiday is a celebration for the Kings Birthday, and all throughout the country there are city wide parties with a sea of people dressed in orange. As I mentioned before, I went to the 538 KoningsDag festival which amazing beyond my expectations. But in the city centre there were multiple free stages that people could enjoy and the terraces of many restaurants were open.


Sunset Over Eva Simon’s Set (Breda, April 2016)

The weather was not the best, with some rain, some hail, and some cold wind. But that didn’t stop anyone from having an amazing time! I had so much fun spending time with my friends and dancing the entire day away. Artists like Martin Garrix, Tiesto, and Hardwell perform all over the country with multiple shows. Martin Garrix performed around one o’clock, and unfortunately we missed him as we were waiting in line. After his set, he was off into his helicopter for another set in Amsterdam. Unreal!

I was the most excited to see Armin Van Burren during this festival as I had not seen him before. His music was great, and he played one of my favourite songs by Alan Walker called Faded. The ultimate highlight was seeing Tiesto and Hardwell (both Breda born Djs) perform at the same time during a rainstorm. Easily 20,000 people dressed in orange were moshing and thrashing to heavy beats, and cheering in the rain. Seriously, that’s a moment to remember! I am so grateful to be living in a country where there is such a prominent festival and electronic dance music culture. This REALLY is my kind of place!

There truly is no party like a Kings Day party!


By Your Side In Barcelona

Study Abroad, Travel

Barcelona, Spain (April 2016)

“Every time you have to go,
I shut my mind and you know.
I’ll be lying right by your side
In Barcelona.”
– George Ezra

I spent an amazing few days with my best friend in her new home of Barcelona. While we completed many exciting activities, my favourite stories include being surprised with tickets to hear classical music at Palau De Musica Catalunya (the second most beautiful building I’ve ever seen next to the Sagrada Familia), sunburning my entire backside after I fell asleep on Barceloneta Beach, and enjoying so much incredible street art and murals in the Sants neighborhood.

Easter Update

News, Study Abroad

This afternoon I celebrated Easter with some friends from Portugal, Curaco, Italy, Spain and The Netherlands. We enjoyed some delicious home cooked Italian food, a chicken and rice dish, perogies and sausage, and a heavenly cheesecake. I had a great Friday night enjoying the Dutch Street Art Awards in Amsterdam. I met many street artists from across the world and of course, The Netherlands. It was an amazing party and superbly planned awards show. Shout out to The London Police who won the Legend award and dedicated their win to a passionate artist who passed away last year. Thanks to Amsterdam Street Art for inviting me!

I must say acknowledge that my heart is going out to every country in the world right now with the recent attacks in Brussels, Belgium. There have been multiple scares in The Netherlands, but everything is fine here. The Dam Square was lit up to support our neighbours, similar to when Paris events occurred in November. It is so tragic and just so awful that these kind of events are happening all the time across the world. Each time, I find myself in shock and I don’t know how to comprehend that as human beings we can treat each other this way. Also, of course, I am fine. I received some messages as friends and family were worried of my safety. Though Breda is close to the border, all is well here. This is a reminder, to treat your neighbours (and strangers) with kindness. We could all use it.

Quick Update From Amsterdam

News, Study Abroad, Travel


Near Amsterdam Centraal (March 2016)

Hey everyone! I have been really busy completing lots of research in Amsterdam for my thesis this past week. I have met lots of talented street artists from around the world! Just a few days ago, I had the chance to watch The London Police at work on a mural in The Student Hotel Amsterdam City’s bike locker. While I intently watched them hard at work, I was able to interview them and have a great conversation. This was such an incredible experience that just left me high on life! As a self dubbed street art geek, I was so happy to be in the presence of such well known artists and to watch them create so freely. Words just can’t express how amazing an experience like this was for me. Basically, my past week has been full of meeting lots of great people and wandering throughout the streets and canals of Amsterdam searching for tags, stickers, throw ups, murals, and street art of all kinds. As you can imagine, I’m just loving life here in the Netherlands. Throughout the next few weeks of March, I will be travelling to London, spending time with friends, working on my thesis and attending the first ever Dutch Street Art Awards. AMAZING!

Drink It All In…

Events, Study Abroad, Travel

As I wrote about before, Carnaval is celebrated all across the south of the Netherlands in early February. It is such a fun time for all ages! In each city, I think the celebration looks a little bit different and I’m told that the farther south one goes, the more intense the celebrations become.

On the last day of Carnaval in Breda, the Prince of Carnaval returned “the key to the city” to the mayor, and everyone celebrated by listening to the Carnaval music one last time in the main market square. There is a fun song and dance called the Polonaise which looks like the Conga to me. Every time this song played every single person, literally hundreds of people, started dancing in a conga line and singing along. Afterwards, the giant paper dolls were taken down from their perch at the top of city hall and hoisted upon a wooden bed. The wooden bed was paraded through the city centre with a marching band that played a light, fun version of the death march. Once the parade reached the harbour, the wooden dolls were attached to a floating crane and set afire. After a few minutes, fireworks exploded over the nearby castle. And that my friends, was how I spent the last wonderful day of Carnaval!

And here is some more footage from Carnaval. The costumes, the music, the language, the cultural shifts, the atmosphere… Drink it all in, ’cause it’s really amazing to experience!  And as is said for five days a year, here in this lovely country, ALAAF!

Study Trip To Amsterdam

Study Abroad, Travel

Rembrandt’s House (February 2016)

Though I have been working on my thesis for the past few weeks, I have mostly been reading a lot of academic articles and books to expand my knowledge on the subject of street art. Today I ventured to Amsterdam to interview an employee of a street art gallery and document several pieces in the city centrum. It felt great to accomplish something outside of a library setting and to meet artists in the industry. I was thrilled with this progress.

I also made some stops at a few places I have been wanting to visit, including Rembrandt’s house. He lived and worked in this home for over twenty years, and taught thousands of pupils in this space. It was fascinating to see this in real life. If you don’t know me that well, I love Rembrandt so much that I named my cat after him. True story.

I stopped into Oosterkerk and Westerkerk which are two beautiful churches dating back a few hundred years. And funnily enough, I learned about the history of tulips in Holland at the Amsterdam Tulip Museum. (It smelled so amazing inside – if you can only imagine!)

All in all, I had a fabulous day exploring one of my favourite cities.

Ultimate Guide To Celebrating Dutch Carnaval

Events, Study Abroad, Travel

Guys, you have probably heard of the carnival that is celebrated in Brazil every year. Well, just in case you haven’t heard… The Netherlands also is known to celebrate this holiday! And it’s like North America’s Halloween mixed with Dutch music, Thanksgiving and lots of partying. (Needless to say, I’m looking forward to this.)

Carnival in the Netherlands is called Carnaval, and its traditionally celebrated in the Catholic region of the Netherlands in the south around the provinces of North Brabant and Limburg. Carnaval starts on Sunday and follows through to Ash Wednesday. Although, most students use this holiday as a reason to party and will often party every single night of the year. In 2016, Carnaval falls on February 7th to 9th.

Everyone looks forward to Carnaval each year. There are some people who take a week off work and school simply to celebrate! Dutch Carnaval can be confusing for International students on exchange in the south of the Netherlands. It’s up to you to make this week incredible, by stepping up, committing to the Carnaval spirit and going all out. By wanting to make it the best carnival of your life you will easily find other Dutchies also wanting to do the same. You can decide to remain clueless and remain in your home city, from the outside, you won’t “get it or “understand it”, but don’t be this person, jump in and embrace it!

So, here are some tips that I have learned from my Dutch friends on how to make the most of Carnaval.

  1. Embrace Dutch Music!
    I try to love Dutch music, I really do. But it’s hard when I can’t understand a lot of Dutch and some of the beats come across as very ‘cheesy’. Nonetheless, buck up, smile, and start listening to Carnaval music in advance. Try to learn some of the words. Get familiar with some of the songs. Every club, cafe, pub, and place you go during this week will be playing this kind of music. If you haven’t been able to learn Dutch yet this is this a fun time to learn some of the lyrics, the locals will happily translate them for you. They might go something like: “Have sex with a bald guy” or “There is a horse in the hallway”. Really random lyrics that are either dubbed over a recent chart song or a rip off of a German classic with a Dutch twist.
  2. Dress Up!
    Carnaval is just like Halloween. Do not be lame and say that you are not dressing up. Every single person dresses up every night with different costumes. Imagine going to a music festival like Burning Man, where people put a lot of effort into how they look. It’s like that – or even, like a Halloween party. There will be plenty of sugar skulls, pretend police officers, pirates, and other great costumes all throughout the city centre. A lot of people wear onesies. The whole point of Dutch carnival is to become someone else, let yourself go and have a great time. This is why all Dutch people during carnival will dress up in crazy costumes, the more creative and home made the better.

3. Do Not Wear Clothes You Love!
This is important. Do not wear shoes that you like. The floors of every cafe will be thick with gooey used drink cups. The coat check lines will be long. Keep it simple and wear a jacket that you can live without if its lost and prepare for alcohol to be split all over you in the heat of the moment. Go with the flow and accept that this might happen at least once.

4. Taste Local Beer and Cuisine!
Yes, local beer is delicious – like Heineken, Amstel, Hertog Jam, and Grosch. The craft beer selection in The Netherlands is even better. But don’t forget to stop and eat every once in a while. Dutch snacks are so greasy, salty, and mouthwatering. They are also quick, cheap, and easy to find. Sample a Frikandel XXL special, Kaassouffle, krokets, and hopefully you can find a loempia van for some authentic tasty spring rolls.

5. Buy A Dutch Carnaval Scarf
If you can find a shop that sells these orange and green scarves, pick one up. Often if a local cafe or club is really full, you can still be allowed in by the bouncers if you are wearing one of these.

6. Have Fun!
There is usually lots of great activities and events going on in each and every city in the South. Scout out what’s going on online or download the local city’s app with an agenda. There are often parades throughout the centre. Also, there is a ceremony where the Carnival celebrations start after the mayor symbolically hands over the key to the city to Prince Carnival. For three days, the Carnival Prince has control of the city and, together with his subjects, celebrates the temporary establishment of their Kingdom of Fools. Merrymakers make their way from pub to pub and greet Prince Carnival with three cheers of “Alaaf”. Also, it’s said that if you haven’t kissed at least one person during Carnaval then it wasn’t a Carnaval after all.

Christmas Is Finally Here!

Study Abroad, Travel

Cologne, Germany (December 2015)

…And you know how I can tell? Everywhere has a Christmas market! After celebrating Sinterklaas and a friend’s birthday this past week, I was excited to go on a study trip with NHTV’s International Student Club, Compass. We went to Germany for the day to visit six different Christmas Markets!

We traveled by bus (only two hours from Breda) to Cologne, and spent the entire day exploring the city centre. I made some new friends from Venezuela, Greece, and Germany. We found three different markets and each one was very different. The first one was set next to the stunning Cologne Cathedral, which was recently cleaned since its Neo-Gothic origins have left it looking dated. There was so much to smell, see, taste, touch, and experience. The smell of cooked fish, cinnamon, and gingerbread filled the air. Many different vendors had art, local foods and drinks, and the iconic German gift, tiny wooden sculptures, for sale.

The second market we found was my favourite, as it was themed very much like an elf village. Gnomes sculptures could be found playing and doing mischievous activities throughout the market. There was an ice skating rink as well, where people could skate around a beautiful monument. I will be dreaming of the delicious gluhwein (mulled wine) and bratwurst on a bun (German pork sausage) for ages to come! So good!

Set along the Rhine river and near the Chocolate museum, the third market was also quite nice. There was a tall ship that also doubled as a concession stand in the harbour. The Rhine is the second largest river in Western/Central Europe and it also empties into the North Sea through the Netherlands. We also walked along the promenade and saw many buskers and cruise ships. Christmas Markets are the ‘thing to do’ at this time of year. I hope wherever you are in the world, you are well, happy, and spending time with your loved ones. Happy Holidays!

A Beautiful December Day

Study Abroad

Farmland Along The Markdal (River Mark), December 8th, 2015

Yes, it does rain a lot here in the Netherlands. Some days I am completely drenched from head to toe by the time I reach the classroom. The past few days have promised exceptional blue skies and the temperature has been around 10 degrees Celsius.

I went for a bicycle ride along the Mark River this morning and cycled near a village that is called the “Elves of the Wood” in English. For my fellow Canadians back home, I hope you are enjoying the snow and days of hot chocolate; but I’m not complaining about days off like this!

Two Degrees? Yes, Please!

Study Abroad
NHTV (2)

Attendees to the NHTV Double Degree Presentation on November 19th 2015

As you may know, I am studying in Breda for one year to obtain a double degree in International Tourism Management and Consultancy from NHTV Breda University of Applied Sciences  (Netherlands) AND a Bachelor of Tourism Management degree from Thompson Rivers University (Canada). This is such an incredible opportunity to become a globally minded, academic professional with access to one of the largest tourism libraries on the world, internationally focused classrooms, and wide range of topics to study.

Last week, Dr. Scherf gave a presentation to seventeen interested leisure students from NHTV and I stopped by to help out. It was so great to visit with her and promote two places that I am very passionate about.

I am the first student representative from Kamloops, British Columbia to attend NHTV and I am what has been dubbed as the “guinea pig” of this new collaboration. If you attend NHTV or TRU and may be interested in this great opportunity to study abroad, please feel free to ask me any questions!  There is so much to do when preparing for this adventure, from visas and residency permits to financial planning and medical preparations. I am more than happy to share my personal experiences with you. Definitely check back here as well, as this blog is meant to be a way of sharing what I have been up to throughout my time in the Netherlands.

 If you would like to learn more about earning a double degree, see here.

Intercultural Photography Seminar

Study Abroad

During the second to last week of October, I had my second seminar class called Intercultural Photography In India. This was a very neat overview of travel photography taught by Stuart Forster. He is a well known travel writer and photographer from North East England. You can check out this blog here.

I learned a lot about the basics of photography, how to set up the manual settings on a camera, and the industry of travel photography. Overall, this course was a neat opportunity to learn from a talented industry professional and to spend some time outdoors and be creative. For future students interested in studying at NHTV, I would highly recommend it.

For the final project, my task was to shot a series of photographs that could hypothetically used to market young Dutch students to the city of Breda. I have posted a few of the photos I used in my presentation, while I used some others that I have used previously in my blog – such as cuisine, and a few of street art in the area. I tried to be creative and photograph areas that Dutch students enjoy, including Valkenberg Park, clubs, shops and boutiques in the city, as well as major landmarks.

A Week In Review (October 11th to 18th)

Study Abroad, Travel

With crunch time of school related deadlines and trying to keep up an active social life, I am having a hard time trying to update my blog often; however, I thought I would update on how my past week was.

On Monday, I began my first seminar class. The structure of this week long class was quite loose, and one could say it was an equivalent of a ‘crash course’ in a topic. This week’s class was called Host Guest Relations; where in a few short lectures, we analyzed how tourists interact with the destinations that they visit. We looked at a variety of topics, such as the tourist gaze (how the visitor interprets a destination’s images and his experiences), as well as the tourist bubble (how tourists interact with each other and reaching out of a programmed experience to really grasp a concept of the host community). Overall, this topic was quite interesting, but I found there was a lot of research to be done.

My partner and I wrote a report about how local stakeholders (such as the local destination marketing organization, residents, and tourism businesses) contribute to realizing the tourist gaze for international visitors. Throughout this research, I learned that many tourists visiting Amsterdam are actually domestic visitors from around the Netherlands. It was also quite fascinating to learn about that the image that guests have of this city is mostly of canals, architecture, the sex industry, and consuming marijuana. As I have only spent a short amount of time here, I can agree that these images are a part of the city, but there is also so much more to absorb, including typical Dutch foods, incredible museums, street art, markets, events, festivals, and green spaces.

On Thursday night, as part of the Amsterdam Dance Event, my roommate Grace and I traveled into the city to see Martin Garrix perform live at the Heineken Music Hall. For those who may be unfamiliar, Martin Garrix is a famous DJ, who is known worldwide for being one of the youngest mainstream DJs in the world. This show was nothing short of amazing, and included excellent production throughout the entire performance. It was also exciting as other famous DJs, such as Tiesto, Afrojack, Dimitri Vegas and Like Mike also made special performances. The show was sold out and the venue’s capacity was 5,500 people – needless to say it was an exciting adventure! We didn’t end up arriving home until 7:30am the next morning due to traffic on the public transit system.

In comparison to a concert venue in Canada, the Heineken Music Hall differed in several ways. For example, there was no seating, although there was two levels with a main floor and a balcony on all three sides facing towards the stage. There was also a lifted VIP section at the back that probably had the best view of the stage. There was also several areas where people could relax, many bars to purchase drinks and refreshments, and an excellent sound system throughout the entire building. If someone wasn’t in the concert hall, the music still sounded as though one was standing next to the stage.

The Amsterdam Dance Event took place all over Amsterdam for the past week and included performances from 2,200 artists and 450 events in clubs all over the capital city. During the day, there were many tours, special events, and a conference focused around electronic dance music to attend.

Here is a video of Martin Garrix performing at the same festival last year!

Other than that, I can only report that I had another week of amazing meals with my friends. On Friday night, we feasted on a delicious Bulgarian dinner cooked by Yana, Victoria, Dan, and Mark. One evening Ishay came over and cooked traditional Islamic cuisine as well. And though autumn is slowly disappearing in Breda, Cosmin and I went out for lunch and chose to sit on the terrace (with many layers on) to embrace the last bit of great weather.

Sunday brought great company as I traveled to the nearby city of Eindhoven to enjoy a traditional Canadian Thanksgiving meal with my friend Vicki, and her husband, Leon. It was such a treat to enjoy turkey, mashed potatoes, and other home cooked delicacies that my friends and family enjoyed last week. We also had some traditional Dutch food, such as spicy pears.

The last bit of exciting news for me is that a package arrived from Canada and I can now also enjoy my favourite .99 cent meal, the President’s Choice version of white cheddar macaroni and cheese! Hooray!

Canadian Trivia Night

Study Abroad, Travel

In Canada, this weekend, my friends and family are celebrating Thanksgiving. Back home, my friends and I often gather during holidays for potluck parties. Each one of us brings a home-cooked dish and drinks to share, and we would have a lovely evening of good food, conversations, laughs, and more often than not, board games. So, as a way to reach out to my fellow friends from school and my campus dormitory, I offered to host a Canadian themed party last night.

I cooked poutine in the ovens in the lounge, and as we are students on a budget, we enjoyed making s’mores on the barbecue grill in the garden. It was probably not very good for us, as the main source of heat was lighter fluid; but it was more about the experience of cooking marshmallows on an open fire …with kitchen forks. I was terrible at making gravy, as it turns out, but it turned out all right in the end thanks to the joint effort of a few friends.

Poutine is a Canadian dish that originated in the province of Quebec. It typically is served as fries, with melted cheese curds and gravy, a light brown meat sauce. McDonald’s across Canada serve poutine. There are also a variety of poutines available at different restaurants, such as pulled pork poutine or ‘Mexicana’ with gaucamole and sour cream.

S’Mores are a popular treat in the United States and Canada, that are consumed usually at night, by a campfire. It consists of a roasted marshmallow and chocolate between two layers of graham crackers. National S’mores Day is celebrated on August 10th every year. The name of this treat is a contraction for “some more”. It is unclear where this treat came from, although its dates back to a recipe book published in the early 1920’s.

Of course, the food was not exactly like home as I purchased everything at a grocery store near my flat. For example, I couldn’t find graham crackers anywhere, but I did find small cookies with a chocolate coating, and it still tasted amazing. Besides, this party was more about sharing something from home with people who had never tried this kind of experience before.

To conclude the festivities, I made a Canadian themed trivia game that I connected to the television screen in the lounge. Everyone made their own teams and had to answer the best they could with Canadian themed pencils and paper. The winning team earned a case of beer. You can test your knowledge as well, by clicking on this link.

Overall, it was a great evening spent with friends and sharing a little bit about what Canadian culture is like.

De Singelloop Breda

Study Abroad

De Singelloop Breda took place on Sunday, October 4th, 2015 in the city centrum. While I did not participate as a runner, I was able to watch from the sidelines. The marathon races took place throughout the entire centre and worked well with the existing infrastructure of following along the canals and streets. It felt like every one who lives in Breda was out cheering on the runners, and every street was filled with people. Some onlookers watched from cafes with breakfast or coffee, and others were right up against the fencing hollering and clapping.

The event was very similar to another annual race I have seen in Kamloops, called Boogie The Bridge. There was lots of community artwork to build a fun atmosphere, including many displays of yarn bombing. At many different pit stops, there were individual musicians performing, groups of drummers, and full bands on stages throughout the city. There were also different categories, including 5km, 10km, half marathon, and a family edition. One thing that I hadn’t seen at a marathon before was large scale screens promoting sponsors and participants who had finished the race with their numbers and times.

Check out the video below sourced from Bredase Singelloop’s website.

It’s All A Matter Of Perspective

Study Abroad

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As Charlie Chaplin said, “A day without laughter is a day wasted.” So please do enjoy this meme about studying abroad. As with anything, studying abroad can be viewed differently from every perspective, though I found this to be fairly accurate. Sometimes, I really do feel like all I do is attend lectures and of course, yes, I spend a lot of time in the kitchen prepping meals and snacks.

Everyday, I feel so grateful for this amazing opportunity. I know that when I am much older, I will reflect on this time away and feel accomplished, proud, content, and gracious for the amazing memories and knowing that I can overcome anything, including the common struggles of living abroad.

I couldn’t help but smile today as I rode my bike to an early morning class. My flat is located near an industrial sized bakery and at certain times of day, it can smell like heaven. The smell of fresh baked buns combined with sunlit mist floating above the canal is definitely enough to fill my day with complete joy!

Sunday Funday

Study Abroad, Travel
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Mediterranean Dinner (Breda, The Netherlands, September 2015)

 The term ‘sunday funday’ rang true today, as after a relaxing morning, I joined my friend at a festival in Valkenberg Park. The entire park was transformed with a “grassroots” kind of atmosphere. The layout, stage design, and co-creation based artwork. This was the second day of the festival. Last night as I was coming home from the train station, I saw many boats in the canal as a form of a parade. It was quite dark out and the boats were illuminated with colourful lights and energetic people dancing to a different beat upon each boat. There were hundreds of people wrapped around the canals watching, dancing, and participating in the fun. Today, I had a chance to walk around the festival grounds and listen to a variety of music. Most of the music was in the Dutch dialect, but I enjoyed an energetic punk rock band call The Deaf. They are a self proclaimed speed beat band from Den Hague and were a lot of fun! There was another stage themed after the board game Candy Land with DJs playing electronic dance music and another stage in the centre of the park with more of a low key rock kind of groove. I heard from a friend that were was a silent disco party the night before as well. Maja and I tried a delicious treat called Poffertjes, which is like a small pancake with icing sugar and butter on it – YUM!

Later on, I joined many friends in the lounge of our building to cook a large, and very delicious, Mediterranean dinner. It was really lovely to spend time with friends, cooking (and dancing) in the communal kitchen together.

HBO Intro Festival

Study Abroad, Travel

Breda, The Netherlands (September 2015)

Well, I was told that the HBO Intro Festival would be great, but it certainly exceeded all of my expectations! For one night, the City of Breda and collective sponsors, host an annual open air music festival for all of the new (and returning) students during the first week of classes. There were four stages scattered throughout the centre with a variety of promotional businesses, food from local restaurants, and open bars. And the best part was that the entrance was completely free! Alcohol was flowing freely and guests were allowed to bring in their own drinks provided they put it in plastic containers at the security gates. The stages all closed by 23:00, as guests normally go to nearby clubs to continue the party. The festival even hosted five different after parties at popular clubs like De Boulevard, Proost, and Coyote Bar.

It was so much fun to listen to the awesome music and watch thousands of people having an incredible experience. I was lucky enough to meet a new friend who rents a flat above the Main Stage. The view from up there was incredible! I was thrilled to see the festival from awesome heights and sit in the window frame high above the action. During the last fifteen minutes of performances at the Main Stage, the famous DJ Hardwell made an appearance and everyone went absolutely wild! On my way home, I caught a few minutes of a video mapping project being projected upon Kasteel Van Breda. I must say, it is incredible to see so much arts, culture, and social experiences always available in such a beautiful city. I’m falling in love with Breda!

International Night

Study Abroad, Travel

On Tuesday, Compass Breda hosted an International Night at Cafe Vulling. Compass is a club that helps international students meet each other through parties, events, organized trips, and much more. Every week they host themed gatherings in honour of different countries. This week’s night was called “The Worldwide Edition”. There were many flags from different countries on display, as you can tell from my photo, I found one from Canada! We had a contest to see which team could mummify their teammate with toilet paper in the quickest, fashionable manner. And before the night was out, we played Twister out in the streets of Grote Markt! Tons of fun!

In other big news, Cosmin cooked his first meal here in the flat for myself and four other guests. This was his first time cooking away from home and it was a huge success. He said it tasted just like his grandmothers’ amazing meals. So adorable!

First Day At NHTV

Study Abroad, Travel

ADHD Event at De Boulevard (September 2015)

This morning marked my first day studying at NHTV Breda University of Applied Sciences. I have a good overall impression of the school and my classes. There is a large mixture of Dutch students and a small amount of international students. Most international students are from Germany or larger countries in the European Union. I am enjoying my classes so far, although I have lots of readings to catch up on already! My class schedule will change weekly, but I think I have most Fridays off. …Hooray for three day weekends! All of my classes, except for one, have about fifteen students. It is interesting to see such small class sizes, as in Canada, the class size ranges from 30 to 50 – and I always thought that was quite small!

I was told today that NHTV has the largest library of tourism related documents in the world. I am definitely going to utilize these great resources! On Saturday night, my friends and I went to De Boulevard to watch some DJs. Did you know that Tiesto and Hardwell both call Breda home? Hardwell now owns the club in the city centre where he first started out. Hopefully, I can see him live while I am here! Martin Garrix, another well known EDM artist, and Afrojack are also from the Netherlands.

I have been enjoying some amazing meals with new friends. Natalie cooked an authentic Mexican meal with tortilla chips, cream, cheese, and a delicious blended tomato and vegetable sauce. She paired it with Corona in a glass with fresh lemon and a salted rim. Last night, Grace and Laura (both from the United Kingdom) cooked dinner with me. We made mashed potatoes, vegetables, and fried Dutch sausage. And tonight, I shared dinner with my roommate Cosmin (from Romania) and his friend Ishay (from Israel). They cooked curried meat in a sauce over rice. Yum! On a final note, this past weekend, there was a festival celebrating all gingers. People with red hair traveled from around the world to make new friends and indulge in Dutch culture. After all, Vincent Van Gogh was a very famous red head!

Street Art

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Street Art in Breda's City Centre

Street Art By Brazilian Artist, Cranio (Breda, The Netherlands, August 2015)

I have to say I’m loving the culture here in the Netherlands – especially, the historical buildings and the large amounts of art in public spaces. When I was driving around the south a few days ago, I saw lots of art in the centre of roundabouts and along the highway. I hope Canada can learn a few lessons from this beautiful country. For example, back in Kamloops, we have a piece of artwork in one of our roundabouts. It has not been well received and often locals have comments about it. Roundabouts are being used more and more in Canada’s urban development. Wherever I go by train, there is plenty of well done graffiti along the concrete walls of city centers. It is simply amazing.

Arrival Days

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Arrival Days at NHTV Breda University of Applied Sciences

Today was the orientation day for international students. The good news is I have over 300 new people to be-friend. Another success of the day, I found a Jumbo near my apartment! HOORAY! I cooked my first meal in my kitchen. This is just an everyday task at home, but here at EasyStreet, this was an amazing hurdle to overcome. I cooked up gerookte zalm, rissotto, and asparagus – and savoured every bite. It has been raining a lot, I hope to see some sun over the next couple of days. Tonight, all of the new international students are going out on a pub crawl. If this night is anything like previous nights out in the city, it will be nothing short of amazing.

Here are some culture related facts that I have encountered so far in the Netherlands. Delicious treats to indulge in are black licorice (or drops) and stroopwafels. Most stores are closed on the weekends, and if one ever finds themselves in the store about five minutes to closing, they will be asked to leave. The Dutch like to go home right on time. A typical Dutch person is very open and honest – to the point where it can be interpreted as rude. But it isn’t meant to be that way! My favourite of all, is that one must be incredibly on time, if not early for appointments and meetings. A typical meal is brined herring, served with chopped onion. Hagelslag is small chocolate flakes that are put on buttered bread for breakfast. Dutch people do not like to stick out from the crowd. They actually find it offensive if someone is too obtuse. Lastly, a coffee shop is not a place to go for coffee. It is a place for the sale of soft drugs, like marijuana. Ice skating is very popular. People watch it like Canadians watch hockey, at home with friends and drinks. Soccer, or football, on the other hand, is a social event where people go to the pub dressed in their team’s colours and have fun!