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September 15, 2013

a song for someone who needs somewhere to long for

It was going to happen sooner or later - all the moving around, all the seeing new things, the wanting to have only the best time - it always catches you in the end. For me, it came after a slightly weird unpleasant experience trying to find my train to Vienna, and the subsequent night of broken sleep on an overbooked sleeper train: there were people everywhere and at 4am in the morning, when we were woken by what felt like the fifteenth passenger having an argument with the conductor about how unfair it was there were no seats, I thought by comparison Indian overnight trains seemed rather pleasant.

Since I last wrote, I've spent time in Rome and Vienna, and tomorrow I head to Croatia for just over a week of basking on the beach with a dear friend I haven't seen for a few years. I've had fun travelling by myself, but it's a different kind of fun, one where you're more often checking where your stuff is, checking what time your train is, watching all of your bags, keeping a tight hold on your camera (mine would've been stolen today if I hadn't had such a tight grip on it). Over the past week, I've spent time in three different countries that speak three different languages.. I can handle a (small) bit of French, but German and Italian are pretty impossible. Today, I spent time wandering around and realised I hadn't eaten lunch at 6pm - it's just that when you're so unfamiliar with a language, and by yourself, it becomes much more of an ordeal to purchase something.

I hope this post doesn't seem too negative - although I am missing my people a bit and missing cooking (I had a dream about cooking Hugh's roast parsnip salad the other night..) I'm also enjoying the time to reflect and think, time to sit in strange street cafés and write, wandering around streets and finding myself in an interesting modern art museum here in Vienna - mumok. I am lucky, I just keep reminding myself.

The next time I write here it'll be in retrospect, I think. I am purposefully stepping away from the computer until I'm back in New Zealand - I need a holiday from the internet. Hope you are all well and happy, and to Anna: see you soon!!


title from kings of convenience - homesick
photo from rome - the only place where you can say 'so there's the colosseum down the end of that street'.

September 13, 2013

make a new cult every day to suit your affairs | lausanne, switzerland

It feels like a long time since I last wrote from Paris - so much has happened since then. I attended my first ever international conference, held in Lausanne, Switzerland. It's a small city about 40 minutes by train from Genève. It has a fantastic public transport system, so it's very easy to get around, and many central city pedestrian zones - inspiring for Dunedin! 

The conference itself was both fantastic and intense - I am still processing all that I learnt two days later! We had very long days of interesting presentations, lots of strong coffee, many discussions about science with potential future collaborators and other like-minded individuals. I met the two other people in the world working on similar things to me, one of whom we may end up collaborating with for future publications. She is based in Spain and the Netherlands, so there may be options over there for future work - we'll see... I am feeling a renewed inspiration for research upon returning to New Zealand, and it was rewarding to meet, and talk to many other people like me: struggling PhD students. I feel extremely lucky to have had this opportunity. 

As part of the conference, we had a formal dinner, which was a cruise on Lac Léman (also called Lake Geneva, but not by those who live in Lausanne!) It was a still evening, and very beautiful to watch the sun set from a boat on the lake. 

Currently, I'm in Rome, and tonight I am catching the train to Vienna for the weekend. I'll write more about Rome next time - it's a crazy place. Never before have I been so often complimented on the colour of my eyes! I am hoping Vienna will be a little quieter... As of today, I'm travelling by myself for a few days. It takes some getting used to, but it's rather pleasant (and indulgent) to be able to follow any particular whim I may have. I am enjoying having lots of time to reflect. 


title from belle & sebastian - the stars of track and field. 

September 5, 2013

fin de l'été à Paris | late summer in Paris

Many times, wandering with Mum around parts of Paris, I find myself thinking "I could live here." I really could - as much as Paris is busy and unexpectedly dirty if you have romantic visions of the place - it's also so beautiful. There are many things to look at, many baguette to eat, many hours to spend wandering, looking at whose planter boxes are the most colourful. It's been wonderful, spending time here with my Mum, spending time staying in the suburbs with our lovely family friends, hearing French spoken around me. 

The last time I was in France, I was much younger. Despite that, I remember many things - the strange escalators at Charles de Gaulle, taking the Metro, the crazy fountains at the Pompidou Centre. I am also finding bits and pieces of French coming back to me, albeit slowly. I think that I'll try and keep learning (somehow) when I am back in Dunedin. Many people here have good English, which makes me feel embarrassed that my French is so bad! 

It's warm here, very warm. It feels somewhat strange to be plunged into summery temperatures without the build-up of spring, but I am revelling in it nonetheless. In amongst all the feelings I have, there's still a part of me that misses home: Dunedin. I am obsessed with pedestrianised streets over here, and learning how the velo-hire and electric car hire systems work - I can have big dreams for Dunedin right? 

I hope you are all well, wherever you are in the world.