10 reasons Vancouver is a great place for an exchange semester

Posted in academia,media, culture and society by thomas on the Mai 20th, 2009

Good morning Vancouver!
In order of subjective importance.

10. The beer is better than in the US (I know, there are microbreweries …)

Granville Island makes an almost bavarian Hefeweizen. So you are not doomed to drink American light beer.

9. The seafood is awesome

They basically invented Salmon and Tuna here. And they definitely learned how to make great stuff with it.

8. Hawaii is as close as it gets

Chances are, you are not getting much closer to Hawaii anytime soon. (That doesn’t meen the flight from Seattle is actually getting you there quickly but fair enough …)

7. You are not strange if you are actually interested in the stuff you study

More students than in Vienna actually want to study what they study. In addition, the professors I had take pride in teaching the stuff they do. They are disappointed if people fail their exams and they talk to you if you don’t perform to their expectations.

6. Vancouver is a city, but it’s not really big

There is a downtown with skyscrapers, but you can bet there are some wooden houses right across the street.

5. You get a chance to see bears and all kinds of wildlife

A 10 hours drive gets you to the Canadian Rockies, four national parks that are recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. (If you are more into whales and dolphines you can also go to the Vancouver Aquarium or whale watching.)

4. There are mountains, island, beaches, parks and forrests right around the corner

Mount Seymore, Cypress and Grouse. Bowen Island, Vancouver Island. English Bay, Kitsilano Beach. Stanley Park and the Pacific Spirit Park.

3. The people are really nice

They even say „Thank you“ to the bus drivers – something you’d be laughed at in Vienna. In return, the bus drivers tell you where to go and even drop you off between stations at night.

2. Vancouver is a very progressive city

There’s the West End, Vancouver’s gay community. There’s Wreck Beach, the famous, hippiesque nude beach. There’s 4-20, the marijuana holiday. So whatever is your thing, there’s probably a place for you in Vancouver.

1. Most people arrived „just recently“ (in historical dimensions)

Most people here are first or second generation Vancouverites. Multiculturality is a core part of Vancouver’s identity and I haven’t even heard debate or negative sentence about that while I was here. This is so different to Vienna, where you have to face racism in political campaigns and even newspapers.

420 and bluegrass – Or: Things that I didn’t know before coming to Canada

Posted in media, culture and society by thomas on the April 25th, 2009

I have mentioned before that a lot of people in Vancouver tell me about the quality and importance of B.C. marijuana and how the laws or rather their enforcement is lenient compared to the US and Canada’s east. I think I also mentioned that on the other hand alcohol laws and their enforcement are extremely strict compared to those in Austria. So I was already kind of used to seeing the reverse image of Austrian culture: people smoke weed in public or at concerts where there’s a strict „no tobacco“ policy, people get arrested for drinking or being drunk in public.

Anyways, when it came to April 20th I was still stunned by how different our two cultures deal with the two drugs. April 20th or 420 (4-20) is a (supposedly) global counterculture holiday to celebrate the use and demonstrate for the legalisation of marijuana. It obviously never made it to Austria, a country where April 20th is more related to the birth of a rather unpleasent historical figure.

So – how would you expect this counterculture holiday to look like? Secret private gatherings? Think again.

(Nope: I do not have original video material as I was not downtown …)

Please take a second to imagine a demonstration like that in Vienna, preferably 1st district.

On the same day, maybe remotly connected in terms of ideology, I agreed to attend a bluegrass concert. The Yonder Mountain String Band was in town and I got some insider information that they would be absolutely amazing live. And they were. (Music starts at 1:40)

Canada, Beer and The Least Common Denominator (or: „Proud to be Canadian“)

Posted in Brands and Business,communications,media, culture and society by thomas on the April 12th, 2009

Waving Maple Leaf (you didn't know that, did you?)
At the very end of our intercultural training for my exchange semester in Canada, the professor showed us a little video to loosen up and cap our session.

We had talked about culture and intercultural communication in general before, about Austrian an Canadian culture in particular and we had even discussed about some „strange encounters“ between Canadians and Austrians. We had heard lots about the „Britishness“ of Canadian culture, and how it is different from the US in some way. And still, when we watched the video (which is from 2000 by the way), we had really no clue what it really was about (or „a boot“).

Almost four months and some Canucks games, pints of (not very well-tasting) Molson Canadian and „intercultural interactions“ later, I feel like I know a great deal more about Canada. (more…)

Thursday: Dancing to Simian Mobile Disco

Posted in media, culture and society,Off Topic by thomas on the März 13th, 2009

Simian Mobile Disco, Commodore Ballroom, Vancouver
Simian Mobile Disco, Commodore Ballroom, Vancouver

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Simian_Mobile_Disco

simian mobile disco is, as the name says, disco music. very surprising then, that they kick you out after 1 1/2 hours of crazy dancing. anyways: great music, great fun.

Random shots from the UBC campus in March

Posted in academia,Off Topic by thomas on the März 8th, 2009

Spring's coming, soon.
UBC's Rose Garden
The "old" library with the new learning centre
In spring, the campus is going to be absolutely amazing. This is what a campus should look like. More on campus life and culture when I finished shooting my documentational photos.

Gary Jules at the Commodore Ballroom, Vancouver

Posted in media, culture and society,Off Topic by thomas on the März 8th, 2009

Gary Jules at the Commodore Ballroom, Vancouver, ursprünglich hochgeladen von wagnerthomas1

Mad World and other things.

Hawaii – 7 days in (actually more than) 7 pictures

Posted in academia,experience,media, culture and society,Off Topic by thomas on the März 1st, 2009

What do you do when you are on exchange to Vancouver and have a so called reading break? You decide to go to a sunny island everybody dreams about and that is far, far away from where you usually live. And that’s what my fellow Austrian exchangies and lovely people from the Netherlands, France and Australia did.

So our journey to Oahu, Hawaii began in the evening of the Thursday before reading break. Responsible and forward-looking as I am, I posponed packing to the day of departure and spent the night before going out and – together with Wolfi – carrying a „tired“ friend of a friend to his residence until 5 in the morning. Well, unplaned social gatherings are always the best.

Anyways, we did get our stuff packed, got Christine through the US border control and finally arrived at Seattle International airport. Spirits were up and some fiercely fought UNO battles began. I mean, what else would you do on a small little airport, where everything except Starbucks is closed, the seats have armrests so as to make nobody feel comfortable and your flight leaves at 6 am, with check-in starting at 4? See, that was my point.

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Well, some hours later, we were finally sitting in the airplane, where I fell asleep quickly, as I always do in my famous sleeping position – sitting, mouth wide opened.  However, my dreams of white sand and clear water were suddenly interrupted by a message that sounded through the speakers. Technical difficulties, unboard the airplane (unboard means „get out of here“, for more about airline language watch George Carlin), wait a so-called „hour“.
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Hours later we were still stranded at the airport, messages from Delta were spare and not satisfying. But finally, as we had already missed our connection flight in Salt Lake City, they gave us a new flight. And what flight they gave us.
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From Seattle to Atlanta with an overnight stay in the Renaissance Hotel and a first class flight to Honolulu on the ensuing day. I leave it to you to calculate CO2 emissions and time wasted. On Saturday at 4 pm, some 24 hours late, we finally arrived on Oahu.

After being surprised by the rather strong wind checking into our 8 bedroom hostel room, we did what everybody does at Waikiki Beach: We enjoyed the sunset. However, enjoying doesn’t really fit my experience. I wasn’t touched. I wasn’t relaxing. I wasn’t really enjoying the surroundings, I didn’t let it „in“. I was more in the 24/7, „did that“ „done that“ mode that so often makes us walk around more or less unattanding to great things that pass by left and right. I didn’t even take my camera with me. Coming back to the hostel, we saw a rather unsurprising picture. A little beer pong tournament going on in the parking lot. North America is really into drinking games.
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No, we didn’t join the tournament, but the night was still short, thanks to Conny, who dragged us to Sandy Beach at 10 am. Swimming at Sandy Beach more or less equals drowning. However, watching bodysurfers and finally open the inner eye to the surroundings was better anyway.

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Another short night later, we united with our friends from UBC, lovely people from the Netherlands, France and Australia, to take the bus to Hanauma Bay, a natural reserve maybe half an hour outside of Honolulu.
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After watching a short instructional video you are allowed to snorkle with beautiful fish between coralls that had built in the former vulcano crater. I will never forget the feelings I had when I suddenly found myself swimming side by side with a sea turtle. I am not a good swimmer – actually I am a bad swimmer – and I am not necessarily a big fan of the things that are going on in your average ocean, but this was amazing. Seeing this lovely animal diving calmly made me smile. Not exactly a good idea when you are wearing a snorkle, but still.

Yet another long night and delicious food at a Thai restaurant later, we started the next day lying at Waikiki Beach, 2 minutes away from our Hostel. It was only two days before our departure to Vancouver. And I had finally arrived. Enjoying clouds, enjoying the rain, enjoying the blue sky, enjoying the sand, enjoying everything and nothing. There I am, wondering what life is about, about priorities and the luck I have to see more of the world than most of the people in my age. To enjoy the company of lovely people from all around the world, that inspire me and always make me want to know more, see more and feel more.
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And as always when you whish something would never end, you see the end standing 2 feet in front of you. So we rented a little car and planned our second to last day on Oahu.


Größere Kartenansicht
Starting from our Hostel on Waikiki Beach we drove basically all across the Island, always following the coast, with it’s amazing beaches and venues. We ended way up in Mokuleia, where the road turned into a rocky way with too many holes to actually move on.
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As you can see, the trip was definitely worth it. Even though there were no big waves on the north shore, even though Pearl Harbor was already closed when we arrived and it started to rain heavily; Even though they played Rihanna about 1000 times on the radio it was an amazing last day.

And there it was, departure day. Diamond Head, the mountain top viewpoint right next to Waikiki beach was closed, so we decided to use the Hawaii backup option number one: spending the final hours on the beach, letting our minds wander and enjoying the time.

Eventually, the place where we were headed to wasn’t one to have bad feelings about.

Canadian humo(u)r

Posted in media, culture and society by thomas on the Februar 11th, 2009

Ein kleiner Einblick in kanadischen Humor der mir am Wochenende gegönnt wurde: Jon Lajoie.

Eine hab‘ ich noch…

Posted in Bachelor Thesis,Off Topic by thomas on the Januar 30th, 2009

Im nächsten Kapitel soll geht es dann übrigens wirklich darum, was virale Werbung eigentlich „ist“, woher sie kommt und was man sonst noch über sie sagen kann.

Ansonsten – ereignisreiche Woche: CV/Profile fertiggestellt und übersetzt, massig Gruppentreffen, Fragebogen erstellt, Werbewirkungsexperiment durchgeführt, Menschen kennen gelernt, ausgegangen und Spanisch gelernt.

Heute in „Wunderschönes Kanada“: Snow-shoeing am Mount Seymour

Posted in experience,Off Topic by thomas on the Januar 27th, 2009

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Normalerweise kann man mit dem Bus direkt vom Campus zum Mount Seymour, einem der drei Hausberge von Vancouver fahren. Am Wochenende ist das ganze mit mehrmaligem Umsteigen und einiger Zeit in Bussen verbunden. Beim Snow-shoeing schnallt man sich dann Schneeschuhe über die eigentlichen Schuhe über und wandert einige Kilometer bergauf in wunderschöner Schneelandschaft. Für diejenigen die mir jetzt am Liebsten eine verpassen würden weil ich nicht Skigefahren bin: 1) Seymoure ist nicht Whistler 2) Ausrüstung ist ziemlich teuer 3) Ich spare mein Geld für Hawaii im Februar (Aloha!).