Alex Janzen: Time Flies

Wow! I can’t believe how fast the semester went by, and all the memories I have experienced. This time a couple weeks ago, I thought I would be heading home soon, but looks like I’m staying till the end of July! I guess I should catch myself up on everything that has happened since my last blog.

I was constantly at Café Nerro working on coursework, hoping to get ahead of the game before my upcoming travel plans. Café Nerro is an Italian Café on Union Street that become my second home during coursework period. Starting early paid off, I was never extremely stressed to get things done. April 1st came around and Erica and I flew off to Vienna. I was very spoilt in Vienna, thanks to Erica’s uncle. He provided us with a place to stay, gave us food money, and paid for our entrance to multiple attractions. I will be forever grateful for the hospitality he showed me. Erica and I had a grand time in Vienna, it’s a beautiful city. My favorite part was probably the palace tour. I found the history that lives inside that palace very interesting. It was the palace Marie Antoinette grew up in before she left to wed. We also went to the zoo, the Spanish Riding House, an orchestra and opera show, and made some Austrian friends on a night out. My last night in Vienna was spent at Erica’s uncle house in the country side. It’s an adorable house and they spoilt us more with a delicious home-cooked meal. Her uncle gave me a ride to the airport the next day for my flight to Barcelona.


I cannot express my admiration for Barcelona. I absolutely love that city and I can’t wait to explore more of Spain and Catalonia. I met an Italian boy my first couple of hours in the city who could only speak Italian and Spanish. Despite the language barrier he asked me out for a drink and we communicated with a translator app the whole time. It was quite the experience, even though I made a new friend he left the next morning. I spent the next morning on a free tour through the city with an Irish guide. The tour was full of history and interesting points of the city. I was really interested in Gaudi’s artwork and wanted to see his mural pieces. The park that held this artwork was rather far from the city so I decided to save it for tomorrow and spend this day on exploring the center of the city. I spent a lot of my town along the road of Las Ramblas where most of the tourists are. I stopped for lunch at an outside restaurant, where I ended up befriending my waiter. He offered to show me around the city after his shift. So I thought why not, since I was here alone. He took me to the impressive church of Sagrada Familia. He even paid for my entrance and become my professional translator. Sagrada Familia was amazing and incredibly beautiful. After he took me to a couple other places and even took me out for dinner. We then decided to go out and he took me to his friend’s bar where I got free drinks all night. The bartenders of Barcelona don’t stop pouring alcohol in your glass until you tell them to stop. I learnt that the hard way. The next day after my wild night out, I made it to Park Guell. This park was probably my favourite part of Barcelona. The sky was so clear, the palm trees swayed in the wind, and the sun was so warm. Live music was around every corner. The Spanish guitar sparked my heart and I sat for hours watching a live flamenco show. Unfortunately, I was only able to see the mural work of Gaudi from afar, since I didn’t know entrance was only at certain times, and I had a flight to catch that evening.

I was ready to come home to Aberdeen, it felt good to come back to my bed and relax from my travels. The next day was my birthday, Erica made me cupcakes and bought me a new purse. I’m truly blessed to have made such a great friend that I will get to keep in Vancouver. Once our reading break ended it was time to go back to work at the café before our next trip to Isle of Skye. We left very early from the University of Aberdeen to our first stop at the Coral Beach. The water here was crystal blue and the sand was white as snow. We were even lucky enough to have beautiful weather. We then made a stop at the Fairy Pools which easily reminded me of the pools in Lynn Valley. Except there wasn’t a forest around them. We stopped in Portree for the night. The next day we hiked the Old man of Storr where we got caught in a snow storm. On our way to Glencoe we stopped at the famous Eilean Donan Castle where many movies have been filmed including James bond and the Maid of Honor. Our last stop before retiring for the day was at the Glenfinnan Viaduct the iconic “Harry Potter Bridge”. We got to see a lot of points of interest on this trip but it was unfortunately not very well articulated. Our bus driver had a rude case of road rage and our tour leader was too timid to negotiate extra time at locations so we could fully enjoy it. We wanted to walk up to the viaduct and everything but we only had 10 mins at the location, which was ridiculous. BUT! It was still a great trip. Our last day was in Glencoe, where there wasn’t a lot to do. The town was cute and had a beautiful view of a loch but we felt this time could have been used for an extra night in Skye instead.

Iceland came around the corner before we knew it. Erica and I hopped on the plane to Reykjavik to explore the land of Ice and Fire. We spent our first day there at the iconic Blue Lagoon. We enjoyed the fortunate weather and the warm murky water with clay face masks. We then explored the town of Reykjavik and noticed we got brunt during our day at the lagoon. The next day we did the Golden Circle Tour of Iceland. An 8-hour tour that took us around to a bunch of points of interests. We saw the ridge that divides with the North American continent, the golden waterfalls, and the Geysir. We flew back to Scotland late that night to get back to our final studies.


Once I got back to Aberdeen I had the majority of my coursework done. There was just one exam I had to study for. I wasn’t too worried about it and I turned out to be pretty prepared for it! Although I haven’t received my marks yet I’m confident I at least passed all my classes! With the semester finished we celebrated with a night of “Pub Golf”. Pub Golf shared similar rules to that of a pub crawl. We went to a bunch of different pub but at each pub we had to chug a certain drink in one go. It was a great night and was loads of fun. I will miss all the friends I have made here and the fun things we did together; I wish them the best in their endeavors.

I would be leaving to except I met a handsome man one night in Exodus, a club 5 mins from my place. We have started to hangout a lot together and we now have plans to visit France, Finland, Inverness (where he grew up), Glasgow, and Edinburgh together before I have to leave by July 29th. Before this Dublin is the next adventure on the list. I will be meeting Erica another friend and my cousin in Dublin for 3 days. I’m excited to explore these next places that are waiting for me. My whole study abroad experience went by way too fast and it will be extremely hard to leave. I already know I will be crying at the Airport when the day comes.

Alex Janzen is a Bachelor of Tourism Management Degree student at Capilano University who is currently studying abroad at Robert Gordon University in Aberdeen, Scotland.


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