Latest Posts

An End and a Beginning

Hello world,

A great trip has come to an end.
dsc09562dsc09448Until yesterday I was on a big voyage across the North American continent. All on my own I traveled from Basel to Frankfurt to Minneapolis, on to Calgary, and on to Toronto and Washington D.C., back to Reykjavik and Frankfurt eventually taking the train to Bern again. I met up with a lot of old friends on the way, made new friends, and still spent quite some time alone — I loved all three of those experiences.

My stops along the way were particularly different. Going from green, spacious, lonely Alberta to the hassled, crowded, densely developed U.S.-American capital was definitely a challenge. And that was a ton of adjectives right there. dsc09593dsc09492My friend Jess and I discussed whether we prefer taking pictures in an urban or rural setting and our opinions differed. She has always been a city dweller.

D.C. has heaps of photogenic spots, most of which I am sure we have seen. However, there is also a bunch of symbolism, which I like. The upper picture is the Apotheosis of Washington, a fresco by Constantino Brumidi on the inside of the Capitol’s dome. It shows George Washington, first president of the USA. The capital was named after this guy, a state, a university, a ton of bridges and streets, and more than a couple of black babies (as a last name — supposedly nowadays it is the ‘blackest name there is’ according to Wikipedia). Well, this lovely painting pictured shows him becoming a god. This painting, I repeat, is situated in the country’s most important government building.

Also, the U.S. has quite some veterans (because the country’s participated in quite some wars) and their treatment by the government and society is… interesting. They receive appreciation and thanks and literally three holidays a year dedicated to just them, still they don’t seem to get much substantial aid aka money.
dsc09525 dsc09633Jess and I had a great time, though. We went to a baseball game between the Nats and Mets. The Nats lost by a thread. I got a picture with the mascot Abe (all the mascots are important presidents). Jess was terrified of them; childhood trauma.

We went to the National Zoo. The pandas’ cage occupied half of the park’s space while they spent their time sleeping in a corner. The gazelles, oryx, elephants, kudus, cheetahs, lions, and tigers seemed a tad depressed.

On Friday night we didn’t go out, because we weren’t allowed anywhere. Instead we spent the night on the 10th floor balcony complaining about U.S. nightlife laws and discussing life over some sprite.

Saturday we slept until 11am. Around lunch time we had a great brunch next to already drunk (and hungover) people. The flight back home that day with Iceland Air was awesome. They had artificial northern lights on board! Now I really want to go to Iceland. Next summer.
dsc09666bHere is the last post from this memorable trip. Surprisingly, I feel little nostalgia. It was magnificent, but I am not sad it’s over. In fact, that’s been the great thing about this summer: I don’t have to be sad about things coming to an end, since all of my good times have only led to more good times. One highlight is followed by the next. I had a great, great summer; I managed most of the time to really enjoy the moment, whether this was in the Jura, at home, in Minnesota, Canada, or D.C. And now it’s time to get excited about a new stage in my life. Uni. Arg.

But first, let’s go to the Ticino next week.

xo
Layla

Thanks for reading.

The ‘murica Issue

Hello world,

Washington D.C. has a very high concentration of ‘murica going on.
dsc09456I am at my last stop on my grand North America trip. After my home 2.0 Minnesota and newly found love Canada it’s Washington D.C., the US-American capitol, and it’s a big contrast.

I’ve said it before: to me Canada and the States are very different. The mentality is different, especially among young people as myself; not only talking about alcohol and tobacco ect but also more broadly spoken: Canadians are so much less stuck up than their neighbors. They’re more cosmopolitan, more chill and less serious.

Plus, the biggest difference I’ve been getting slammed into my face everyday here: overly exaggerated patriotism. The kind of patriotism Europeans like to mock. I am sorry: It’s pretty ridiculous.
dsc09486 dsc09483I am staying here at a friend’s house. Although basically being Swiss (with some British influences), she also has the US-American citizenship. We are a fun combination of her being American without having experienced American culture a lot and me being very much European having spent quite some time here. So many quirks I’ve simply gotten used to, now seem ludicrous again with her perspective.

Washington D.C. is so much pomp. So much Schönmalerei (= idealization, gloss coating, trivialization) of the past. So much…. ‘murica. There’s flags and cops and burgers and Trump shirts everywhere. It really is like in the movies and I don’t know if I find that cool or sad.
dsc09506 dsc09528Don’t get me wrong: I like US-American culture. I find it incredibly interesting. I mean, I am going to freaking study it at university.

To me, big war memorials, singing the anthem before Baseball games (and on Facebook and in museums and everywhere), and being excessively friendly to everyone seems normal now, however, the excess of it in D.C. and my friend’s inexperience with it, has shown me again, how different US-American and European cultures are. Europe may have copied a lot of the States’ pop culture and other stuff, but we have a contrasting mentality concerning topics such as patriotism, politics, superficiality, and much more.

And that’s okay.

On the contrast, I even think it’s pretty cool that my friend and I are smart (?) or mature (?!) or just attentive enough to realize that although in the U.S. you can get MAC lipsticks cheaper and have more fast food options, there are also more complex and deeper aspects we do not agree with. We’ve moved on from the ‘I-love-America-because-they-sell-Abercrombie&Fitch’-stage.
dsc09587If you are a U.S.-American: Please, don’t get butthurt. I love your country, yet maybe it’s not the greatest country in the whole world, maybe your country has also made mistakes and is still piling them up, and just maybe you can acknowledge that and still like it.

Getting to eyeball and nevertheless appreciate other countries is another reason for me to travel. I really appreciate you, USA, but try to contain the ‘murica a bit more, man. There is always two sides.

xo
Layla

Thanks for reading.

Yes and No

Hello world,

Today is my last day in beautiful, gorgeous, wonderful Canada.
dsc0934027 days ago I sat in a bus driving through the mountains feeling melancholic; today I did the same thing. Only have the trees now turned yellow and orange and instead of Lake Superior and my second family I was and still am nostalgic about leaving my newly found friends, a beautiful scenery, and a very different summer.
dsc09421dsc09422I’ve said it before: Going abroad is not a cakewalk. In the beginning of my month in Canada I was loving every second. Everything was new, so much was happening, and I was in the middle of it all.

But, I have to admit: Around the halfway point I did not feel that way. It was raining a lot. Nothing was going on. I was still somewhat the new kid. I got rejected from my dream university back home. It was a challenge and on lazy rainy days I would wish to be in Switzerland with my friends and the sun.

Yesterday, however, I was driving with Valentina on the highway and told her gloomily I did not want to leave this place. ‘Then stay,’ she responded, ‘Be spontaneous. Come with us to Alaska and Yukon.’ And in that moment I seriously considered doing just that. That’s how much I felt at home at Great Divide Lodge towards the end.

Towards the end I was not as exciting anymore, but it felt homey.
dsc0935814328996_10208433899259094_27042703_nCanada is a beautiful country, undeniably. Still, for me the best part about it was the people. Those wonderful, open, funny people aged from 18 to 38, who all rocked in their own way. With them I not only explored places, but also spent hours playing cards, Jenga, Monopoly, pool, having a bonfire or watching Game of Thrones until 2.30 am.

‘That’s the best thing about travelling,’ Valentina — who is very quotable — explained to me today, ‘you get to meet so many inspiring and awesome people. And then you meet them again somewhere sometime, randomly or carefully planned. People are why I travel.’

Preach. She and I also already agreed to meet up in New Zealand or Australia: her next stop.
dsc09408I am currently in Calgary for a night before I fly out tomorrow. I am here, but I could imagine myself just as easily back in Lake Louise with all the others. I would love to. They are going to go on road trips, party till dawn, and make memories. (They promised to send me pictures.)

But, and that’s why I am here and not there: There are other things I also want to do, if not more. Right now I want to go to Washington D.C. I want to get tan in Switzerland. I want to move out and go to university.

Saying yes means saying no to other options; that’s what today has shown me more than ever. Let’s hope one day soon I can decide to say yes to Canada or to New Zealand or to another country for a bit longer. 4 weeks feel long after 2 rainy weeks, but now I feel as if I sat in the bus to Lake Louise in awe just yesterday.

So here is what some of you may have waited for: Canada 2k16 captured in some shots and a song we blasted out wherever we went.

I already miss it so much.

So long, Canada. See you soon.

xo
Layla

Thanks for reading.

#universityprospects

Hello world,

I’ve been accepted into university. The one I really wanted to get into. Finally.
DSC09197Lately I haven’t been sleeping all too well. For the most part it is due to my ever-sick roommate (it’s not her fault, but I am really bad at sharing rooms, especially if the other person is constantly coughing – sorry) and the Canadian Pacific Railway. Those mega long trains are obliged to clatter along the national parks slowly so they don’t kill all the wildlife. They pass us every other hour or so and make earplugs luxury goods.

But, the other reason I haven’t been on top of my sleeping game is university. It’s been real, y’all. It’s been a struggle. Especially because I am 7.836 km away from home.DSC09266Basically, my application was handed in correctly, but the university got everything messed up, which is why I was unfairly rejected, subsequently all hell broke loose until I was finally accepted and sucked up to. Yup. German universities on point.

It’s difficult to be faced with problems back home, when you are just trying to enjoy your time abroad. For three weeks straight I frantically checked my mails first thing in the morning only to be disappointed. I texted with my mom everyday weighing our options. The whole process was super slow, among other reasons because at 8am in Canada it’s already 4pm in Germany, thus I had no way to get back to people within the same day. I felt useless and at the same time my parents couldn’t do much either without my signature.
DSC09225Combined with the cold weather we’ve had lately, I must admit there were times I wished to be back home lying in the backyard getting tan and sorting out the shitty situation first hand.

And that sucks. I will get home soon enough; I’d rather make the most of my time here.
DSC09282DSC09289But I got accepted on September 1, and while some may think that after all that hassle I don’t want to go to that particular university anymore, the opposite is the case: I am so pumped to attend university this fall. I am excited and cannot wait to compile my schedule, move into my dorm, attend all the Freshmen activities, do more of what I truly enjoy, and make new friends on the way. I’ve heard a lot about university all of my life and while I seemed to like school more than many of my friends, this next chapter – uni – seems like my place, my hood.

I hope I won’t be really disappointed, but come on: I saw three rainbows ever since my acceptance e-mail. That must be a good sign, right?
DSC09327DSC09326There is only one week in Canada left. It’s been good. It’s been pretty.

Today we took a spontaneous trip to Banff to go canoeing. Lake Louise is bursting at the seams this weekend because of Labor Day tomorrow, so it was nice to get out. While canoeing we saw this elk, stopped, and approached it carefully until about a 20 m distance. To get that close to wildlife was very humbling. We didn’t pose any threat to the elk, so all we did was look into each others’ eyes. Then we slowly backed up and continued to canoe on turquoise water. It was one of the most beautiful experiences I’ve had these past three weeks (which is saying a lot)

Time flies.

xo
Layla

PS: Whoever is wondering: I got accepted into B.A. in American Studies (BAS) at Heidelberg University.

Thanks for reading.

Juhu, Yoho

Hello world,

There are two national parks I spend a lot of time in: Banff and Yoho. Let’s talk about Yoho.
DSC09117DSC09106Banff and Yoho National Park meet at the border of the two provinces Alberta and British Columbia. Banff is located in Alberta, Yoho in BC. Banff is all famous because of Lake Louise and Lake Moraine and because the ‘towns’ (Banff and Lake Louise) in it are very touristy, but Yoho is absolutely stunning as well. However, I do agree that the main city in Yoho, Field, really isn’t the place to be.

Generally speaking, while Banff is more luscious and green, Yoho is rockier. It is drier and always a bit warmer. However, those are just guidelines: The lake in the pictures above is Lake Emerald in Yoho National Park, luscious and green and beautiful.
DSC09079This is one of Yoho’s most prestigious sights: Takakkaw Falls. It is pretty tall with 302 meters.

By the way, Yoho was the second national park to be founded in Canada, together with Glacier National Park (not the one in Montana). First was Banff, obviously. Banff is much larger, too. Plus, it gets six times as many visitors. To summarize it, Banff National Park is like the annoyingly successful big brother. Not that I would know, since am the annoyingly successful big sister. (Muahaha)
DSC09186I am giving you all these facts and pictures so that Yoho National Park may be known beyond the territories of BC and Alberta. Banff and Lake Louise get all the fame on Pinterest, but Yoho is just as cool. Just a bit smaller and a tad less trendy. I have a heart for the outcast, I guess.

I must say, though, I have far less pictures from Yoho than from Banff, although we live in Lake Louise. So, I still have to up my game, too.
DSC08942But look at it: Even the rainy days are beautiful. They’re also a bit depressing, because temperatures drop to 5°C (40°F) in late August while all of Switzerland is getting tan, but they are pretty. Can you spot the mountain?

Basically, #fightforyoho. It is a fantastic national park that deserves just as much attention and love as Banff is getting.

xo
Layla

Thanks for reading.