2002-08-12 Bamberg

Made a quick trip out to Bamberg for my off day of Waldheim. Upon arrival went straight to the Beer Garden, of course. Was also immediately thrust into a discussion between the difference between Germans and (North) Americans and there respective nations. Caroís boyfriend seemed anxious to show of his North American accent, but he also conceded that I knew a fair bit about Germany and could speak the language. Not bad for a lost sheep. Bamberg is beautiful and Caro and I wandered around the city centre on Sunday. It was likely to be my last taste of Ďold Europeí, for a while so it was good to have the trip just before I left.

2003-8-23 London

Took the bus back to London from Stuttgart. A twelve hour affair, but I got to see a bit of

Belgium on the way. A young Italian sat next to the German girl behind me. His German was almost non-existent, but he spoke a little bit of English. I risk arousing old stereotypes, but he honestly tried to pick up this girl with the sorriest tactics I have ever seen. Seriously, even after she mentioned her boyfriend (real or convenient), he asked her to kiss him two hours into the bus ride. At the first rest station I asked the girl if she was okay and mentioned that there were plenty of other empty seats on the bus, but she seemed to think it amusing. By the time we hit Brussels, the guy had fallen asleep on top of her, and she would hopefully think of it as nothing more than a good anecdote.

London was London, but I didnít have enough time to explore or anything. At the end of my Keele trip I bought a one zone fare and went six zones to Heathrow only to be briefly haranged by the ticket inspector who was too overwhelmed by the huge bottleneck of people passing through his stall to fine me ten pounds. This time Iíd play it safe. I tried to buy a six zone ticket but the screen was messed up and I somehow bought a 4-zone ticket. This wasnít going to do, so I bought a two zone ticket as well, and since it costs more than a six, I figured I could talk my way past the collector. Unfortunately, I had a whole bunch of luggage with me, with which I had to navigate the underground. The journey from Victoria to Heathrow requires one change, and with my three bags and the necessary Guardian I wasnít in complete control of my possessions. Needless to say, as I stepped off the platform at Heathrow 1-2-3, I couldnít find my two-zone ticket. Darn it, now there was going to be caught for sure, since there was no one but the ticket inspector at the station. As I walked towards the exit I pulled out my one ticket and began to speak to the inspector with a deliberately think American drawl (see Berlin two years previous). I had said all of three syllables when he replied, "I donít care mate", and he waved me through.


Toronto August 24

Back in Toronto. Went to the Dufferin Mall Taco Bell for my returning from the airport meal. I went to the Jane and Fince Taco Bell when I came back from Keele. Very grand, eh? A quick visit to see friends and family.


Vancouver Sept 1st

The grand return to Vancouver! Okay, I was only away for nine months, but it was still good to be back. Moved into the 4M (home to four residents with last names beginning with M), and gradually awaited for school to start. My birthday was celebrated at Spanish Banks. Crepes cooked on my Coleman stove (in absolute darkness) and then a little bit of wine while sitting on the beach. There was this burning stump of wood that no one could explain, but it stayed lit right up until the police came. So very kind of them to boot us off, and only with a passing comment about the wine bottles.

The rest of the semester just sucked. That is not quite true. I made many new friends, there were a couple good parties, and soccer was fun. However, school was a tortuous affair. Much of the group is made up of top-notch students in the programme, who gained admission with their impressive transcripts and flattering letters of recommendation, and coming from academic excellence it was humbling experience for everyone. I donít think anyone expected that the class average would be below passing after the mid-terms. It certainly got us studying, I never hit the books so hard before, but then again, Undergrad was a breeze.

Part of the semesters rigmarole was applying for Civil Service jobs in Ottawa. It didnít take too long to figure out that I didnít want to work for the Bank of Canada, and that they didnít want me. There was an interview, that featured a surprise switch into French. "Your French is pretty good for someone from B.C." was the comment, and well, I am definitely from B.C. now!