Whether it be social, recreational, or professional, some of what represents me is here. Post a comment, or contact me at should you so desire.

The posts are in reverse chronological order, and are pegged by topic on the links to the left. For more of an introduction, please see the About this site page listed above.

Sunday, 22 September 2013

Ile Boat Tour, Cathedral Treasure Hunt, Mayoral Reception at Strasbourg's Town Hall

This last week was quite an exciting one at the ISU and Strasbourg. While it was the second week of classes, it was the first with non-introductory material and I was excited to get to work! Lectures included a variety of topics like a brief history of the space industry, the electromagnetic spectrum, orbital mechanics, and international space policy. While some of it was review, it was nice to be learning more about the space industry.

Saturday, 21 September 2013

Time to Build a Rocket!

Yesterday, I helped design, build, and launch my first rocket! It was a great experience and I learned a lot about the design process and I would like to share what I have learned with you!

Sunday, 15 September 2013

First Week at the ISU

The first week at the International Space University is over! So far, things have progressed really smoothly and I'm looking forward to seeing what I can do this year.

Friday, 13 September 2013

Place de la République, Place Kléber, L'Homme de Fer, et La Petite France!

I went on a scavenger hunt on my third day here in Strasbourg, France, but I was not in the best of moods. I was still getting used to France, and I was really struggling with not having a working phone. After the wine and cheese testing you saw, or can see, in my last post, I re-walked the tour around the city and took these photos!

Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Wine and Cheese Tasting!

It has been a while since I have had a "care-free" day. The other day was exactly that as I enjoyed the sights, smells, culture, and history of Strasbourg. So come, take a walk with me...

Typical French Dinner and a Quiet Evening

While I usually choose to write posts which revolve around big events, I thought the other day was a nice enough day to write about.

I awoke a little late but started the day out well. Cleaning the apartment, my roommate and I settled a few things, dividing up the kitchen and the like. I found a toaster and a blender in a previously-unseen closet in the kitchen and both worked so that had me excited!

The landlord came by and talked a little more about the apartment. A nice man, who has spent a lot of time in many other countries (although we didn't get much of a chance to talk about that), he told us all about any of the issues he has had in the past, and helped us with any questions we had. 

Later in the day, his sister arrived as she had invited my roommate, myself, and two other students out to her house for dinner. A short car ride was all that was needed, and I couldn't help but think of Captain Jean-Luc Picard's house from Star Trek: The Next Generation.

The Alsatian Museum

Welcome back! In today's blog post, we explore the Alsatian Museum and learn a little about the history of this beautiful region of France.

Saturday, 7 September 2013

Phone Troubles and the In-Between

Hello everyone! Ou bonjour, tout le monde, si vous préférer! Or, comme les Simpsons, if you prefer. I have been in Strasbourg, France, for a few days, and it has taken me a little longer than I expected to settle in. Things have been really fantastic so far, but before I get to that, I would like to rant a little, about my troubles, so that if you travel, they might not happen to you.

My main trouble has been getting a cell phone which works. When I moved, I took out the SIM card and thus I had a workable piece of technology but no connection to any network. Roaming around, (pun intended), for a few days, I considered my options. I was going to simply get a new phone with a SIM card, and a one year contract if that was possible, but I was not prepared for the price of cell phones. I have an LG-P970, which has been working well, with its 4 inch screen, but I was hoping for an upgrade. Looking at phones at Orange, a provider here in France, I quickly saw that any phone I liked, or was comparable to the phone I had, was about 300 euros, or $410 Cdn. My phone cost $175 Cdn., or 128 euros, and any phone cheaper than this was a simple flip-phone.

After that, it was a stressful couple of days, full of misfortunes like my cell phone pouch breaking on the way to school making me think I lost my phone along the way, my phone needing to be unlocked costing me $50, and stores being closed, or not in the same place as advertised. There were so many problems with my phone, I thought I was cursed for some reason. I grew extremely downhearted, frustrated, and quiet.

I learned a few things from this experience. The first, was that I seemed to be more addicted to my phone than I had thought. Without a phone, I seemed to be miserable, and inconsolable. However, I will defend myself a little and say that being out of touch with anyone and being away from home for the first time, these can add to the experience and I'm hoping were mostly responsible for my semi-depression.

The second thing I learned was how much a house of cards emotions can be. I am usually a pretty stable guy, but I am also a guy who loves stability. I love it so much that if something is out of place, it bothers me. I become obsessed with it and must fix it. When I cannot fix it, well, I become depressed. I kind of knew this about myself but at least this gave me an opportunity to reflect upon it. This is an opportunity to grow and while it can be great to be so devoted to solving a problem, I have to work hard at not becoming so frustrated when the solution fails to present itself.

However, after a few conversations with some concerned individuals, one of which included my roommate accusing me of having a small appetite (only true when I'm stressed), I decided to take a stand. I still had the internet when I was at home, and I grew up in the middle of nowhere, Canada, and I could survive a few days without a phone. I woke up the next day feeling refreshed and set to work to getting my life back in order.

It is interesting to note that the phone issue was the only one I have faced so far. I was comfortable with leaving the country, my flight was relaxing, I had no jet lag as I slept the whole way, I have not been having trouble with the language (French being Canada's second language and all), the tram system is easy and convenient, and while it has been a bit of a challenge finding the stores which carry the items I need, I have not felt upset, stuck, or lost by anything other than the phone. Perhaps the phone issue distracted me, perhaps I just intensified forward firepower, I mean concentrated my stress, into this issue. (by the way, go to 10 seconds into that video it didn't send you there directly) It is only the beginning so I am sure I will feel so many things, but it hasn't been a bad start, so far.

Okay, enough emotions, I'm sure you're all itching to see some photos! Well, they're coming! Every day this week, some of the students from the ISU (International Space University) have been participating in French lessons taught by some faculty members of the University of Strasbourg. We were separated into two groups, beginners and advanced, and have been spending the mornings learning or re-learning the French language. In the afternoons, we have had planned activities which revolve around learning more about Strasbourg, it history, and its people. It has been a wonderful experience so far!

On our second day, we took part in a scavenger hunt wherein we searched out buildings and other landmarks and learned a little more about the history of Strasbourg and France. Unfortunately, the phone issue was bothering me so much that I didn't feel like taking pictures. I plan on returning later, but it has been a busy few days.

Stay tuned to my next post, wherein we take a tour of a beautiful French museum!

Monday, 2 September 2013

A Canadian Werewolf in France

Bienvenue a France! It has been a long time in preparing, but I finally made it! After all my planning, packing, organizing, and lack of sleep-ing, I was able to look around my apartment in Strasbourg, France, take a breath and say, "I'm here!"

But, let's back up a bit. This was a busy week. My clothes were cleaned and mostly packed, but my mom and I had been working almost non-stop on making me some new clothes, as you will be able to read about in a future post. When we weren't doing that, we were helping my sister get herself ready for school.

A week ago, my sister went to Brock University early, there to start "Base Camp", which was a pre-frosh week wherein students go on a camping trip in Algonquin Park. Not knowing exactly what to expect, we packed her bags and off she went.

Most of her stuff was already packed, so we just had to load it into the truck and make sure we didn't forget anything. We were moving her in on Sunday, September 1st, at 9am, which unfortunately meant we had to leave from my home at 3am. My mom and I, sadly, were still awake at this time as she was finishing a vest, and I was packing my luggage.

The drive down was uneventful, or at least seemed that way to me as I slept the entire way. We showed up early on campus and had trouble finding Danielle, my sister. After a couple of laps, we found her and found her place of residence.

It was really nice to see how excited she was! She had been so busy and preoccupied with financial concerns that I had not seen any excitement in her since she was accepted. But, the Base Camp week got her in the right spirits. She met a lot of other students, and together they canoed, camped, and portaged all day every day, making memories.

Full of energy, she was the first to move into her suite. Shared with 4 other girls, her suite is one of many in her courtyard in one of many courtyards at Brock. It's a nice setup, if a little too conventional, and by that I mean small. When I moved into residence at York, I was living in a one-year old building, where everything was new, clean, and spacious. Danielle's suite isn't tiny, but it took a lot of ingenuity to get everything to fit and work in the space provided. After picking up some groceries and a mini-fridge, we dropped her off, leaving her to new adventures.

I am extremely proud of her and excited for the days to come! She had a hard time in high school but she stuck to what she wanted to do and managed to be accepted into her #1 choice of programs. She is doing a Bachelor of Geography, and I'm sure it will be only a matter of time before she'll be paid to play with rocks, haha, geology being her love.

After this, my parents and I drove to Toronto, for there was where I was catching the flight out. Again, I fell asleep. Waking up in Toronto, my parents and I went out to dinner. It was a Montana's, and along with the good food, service, and atmosphere, the table was supplied with paper and crayons so I had a chance to show off some of my space engineering skills.

Checking in at the airport wasn't too difficult, but it took awhile to deal with my bike. I kept hearing about how "everyone bikes in Europe" so I had decided to bring my bike. But, I had to pay a lot extra to check it and they required a bike box, and then they couldn't feed it through the conveyor belt so someone had to specially take it to the plane.

Bureaucracy finished, I hugged my parents, and made my way to the gate. My parents have been extremely supportive and enthusiastic about this adventure and I would not be nearly as prepared, settled, happy, or organized without them.

First flight was straight across the water to Amsterdam. The plane was a Boeing 747 which is typical of what you see in movies, with the 3 sets of 3 seats. The flight was pleasant, and I only slept for half of the trip. I have this ability to sleep anywhere, at any time, so I was able to avoid the jet lag.

Unexpectedly, the flight had a full meal, with dessert, and the in-flight movies were free and recent. I wasn't expecting a meal as nothing stated one would be provided, and the only other times I've had access to in-flight movies, you had to pay for them. I watched The Internship, which I found to be quite funny, and interesting.

I arrived in Amsterdam and had to wait 4 hours for the short flight to Strasbourg. I was not allowed to leave the airport but that was okay as there was plenty to see. There was a casino (I didn't go in, no interest), a museum (which I found quite fascinating), plenty of shops, and lots of interesting looking people. I was thinking about good I felt, how not nervous I felt, and how confident I was when I looked up and saw a 20-foot tall poster of Ryan Reynolds posing for Hugo Boss. I smiled, thinking it was nice to see a fellow Canadian.

Checking my carry-on luggage in Amsterdam was a little silly as they want people to remove all electronic devices and their corresponding power cables. My carry-on luggage included 2 external hard-drives, a laptop, and a camera, so I had a lot to unpack. Still, the process was over quickly.

The flight to Strasbourg took place in the 2nd smallest plane I had ever been in. Not sure what type of plane it was, but there weren't more than 40 passengers and the plane itself was too short for me; I had to duck as I boarded/disembarked.

Customs in France was easy and I was let through quickly. I found my bike, grabbed my tire pump and set to work. I had to deflate the tires for the flight(s), and I couldn't move the bike and my luggage with flat tires. Finishing this, I walked outside and hailed a cab.

Turns out my apartment is just outside of Strasbourg, to the south of the city and the east of the airport. Arriving, I looked around and realized I was stuck.

My phone was not set up for international purposes so I couldn't call my roommate. I have Skype but couldn't use it because I couldn't gain access to the airport's wifi. The airport's policy is to text the login information to your phone, but since my phone wasn't working, I couldn't access Skype. There was a gate in front of my apartment so I couldn't simply knock on the door.

Deciding hopping the fence was a great way to start trouble, I locked my luggage to the fence and went warwalking, trying to find free wifi on which to check in. After wandering around for an hour, I found a McDonald's. Turns out, my roommate had been in the apartment the entire time! Laughing at my situation, I walked back.

My roommate, Vatsala, had been worried about me and was relieved to see me. She had come back from hanging out with friends, calling, and trying to find me. I apologized, and we both laughed at the oddity of the situation. She said the choice to avoid hopping the fence was a good one as a police officer lives next door.

Touring the apartment, I realized how lucky I was. The apartment is in great condition, it's worst problem is the heat isn't working at the moment, and the floorboards creak. The one is being fixed next week, the other is part of its charm. Our rooms were large, furnished with a 3 door wardrobe, bed, desk, with many amenities. Vatsala had arrived a day or two earlier and had been busy buying supplies and groceries.

She graciously offered we "go dutch", splitting the cost/function of what she had, and presenting me with a list of recommended things to get and places to go tomorrow. I admired her friendly manner and organization quickly enough, and we got to know each other as we made soup. I say we, but she did most of the work and they were her groceries. I met a couple of other students, who came by to pick up some bikes they had left, and they shared their eagerness to hang out some more tomorrow.

And that brings you up to date. It has been an interesting experience. I am happy that I seem to be so easy-going, it has made normally anxiety-inducing experiences so much easier. I am happy to be here, to get started on my future, and I am excited for what's to come. I know there is a severe lack of pictures here, but I will do my best to keep my camera on me at all times from here on out.

Thanks for reading!