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.

Utrecht City

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Utrecht, The Netherlands (September 2015)

One of my favourite things to do on the weekends is to go on an adventure of some kind! This past Saturday, Natalie and I ventured to the nearby city of Utrecht. Coincidentally, Utrecht is also one of the thirteen provinces here; although the city is the main hub of this area.

We had a wonderful day, as we came across the Nederlands Film Festival. It’s a large scale annual festival showcasing innovation and creativity in Dutch films. We couldn’t see a full-length film in the cinema, although we had the chance to view some short films in a pop up theatre on the street. We also came across a group shooting a film in progress on a street in the centre. There was a large stage outside the main theatre with several DJs performing. The unique thing about this performance was that their music was powered by a bicycle!

We wandered through a great art market with locally made products. I saw lots of great artwork on display here – including handmade delft blue jewelry. We window shopped in a few boutiques, wandered around the DomKerk, and found a public art exhibition. The exhibition was called ‘No Privacy’ and was actually large photographs of the square we were standing in. I believe the photos were taken by drones or from a camera at the top of the church. It was such a great contrast of new age artwork and historical culture.

One of the many highlights of my day was seeing such great street art throughout the centrum. On top of one of the indoor malls we spotted an enormous tea pot resting on the roof. Another great piece was a poster plastered in an alleyway of an otter with a statement on climate change. I saw a sticker on a garbage can that had some great inspirational material. It read, “Know your history. Know your purpose. You are a spiritual being. Everything is balanced. The present is our goal.”

Overall, we had a lovely day trip and explored another stunning city here in the Netherlands.