Sweden vs. The World: Travel Insurance

If you have every paid for travel insurance and you are not from Sweden, you might want to stop reading now. Or start packing your bags for a residence-earning stay in Scandinavia. Wyatt Cenac’s segment ‘Stockholm Syndrom‘ for the Daily Show hardly grazed the skin of the reality of living in this socialist nightmare: “She smells…

Perdu in Fontainebleau

Last Thursday we had a Chevillon-residents outing to the Jazz au Theatre festival in Fontainebleau. We got all gussied up, swung by the theatre to grab tickets, went out for some charming French food (er, wandered around town and finally settled on mediocre pizza since it was the only place open at 6.30 pm –…

In photos: 72 hours in Paris

On Thursday it happened: I melded into my kitchen table, cross-eye’d and atrophying from my lack of activity. I could no longer see the forest for the tree (ferns). Luckily the next day it was off to Paris for a weekend getaway with the girls from work! Most of the girls had never been to Paris before, though…

Dinner with Carl Larsson

Last week I moved to a tiny village in France to focus on drinking wine, eating baguettes and – oh yeah – writing. But I didn’t move to just smalltownville-anywhere in France, I have taken up residence in an artist colony in Grez-sur-Loing, which was once home to Carl Larsson (Midwinter Sacrifice; many paintings depicting life in the…

A scientist in an artist colony

People are LOOKING at me. Like real, actual eye contact!  Many – most even – are greeting me!  Where am I?! Apparently not in Scandinavia anymore, where eye-contact and any verbal communication between strangers is reserved only for people who are crazy, drunk or foreign. Here are some impressions of the first twenty four hours in…

Write it up. Or just write it down.

Last weekend I got into the nitty-gritty of packing up my apartment. I dove headfirst into two of the most daunting crevices of my two-bedroom flat: the bathroom shelves and those two boxes labelled ‘important papers.’ A riveting game of keep or toss? After the warm up round of THREE HOURS going through boxes of half…

What I learned from having my computer stolen in Honduras

In February 2014 I was on the backpacker island of Utila in Honduras for a month of diving and, well, blowing off some steam after finishing up my PhD.  As a newly minted doctor I couldn’t entirely leave work behind – a big grant application was due just days before I was ticketed to fly…

Photo Essay: Mushroom Foraging in Sweden

Autumn is without a doubt my favourite season in Sweden. Right now many Swedes are lamenting the end of summer holidays, missing the strawberries and midnight sun. Not I. I am basking in the fall colours, spotting rustling hedgehogs in the leaves and cooking up aromatic apples by the potful, stocking the freezer with homemade applesauce….

Area woman eaten by whale while hiking.

A week alone in the Norwegian wilderness. This is a short chronicle covering the fears and perils that come with being a solo, female hiker in the nether-regions of Scandinavia (gasp!) Will I be eaten by a terrestrial Kraken? Swallowed by a hungry Maelstrom? Stay tuned for the dramatic conclusion! What brings me to address the dire…

The Californian Channel Islands: A day on Santa Cruz Island

One of the joys of being a houseguest with my sister and brother-in-law in California is that they become temporary tourists during my visit. But they aren’t just aimless wandering tourists – they have the perfect balance of in-the-know and bright-eye’d-enthusiasm. They have only lived in LA for a couple of years, and with minimal days off…

Four months to go: reflections

Today is four months until I take off, and about two months since I made my decision to quit my job and travel indefinitely. Here is an update on my progress, what I still need to do before I go and my general feelings on my choice and life in general. Done: Started selling stuff…

How to beat jet-lag: Before, during and after the flight

Anyone who has ever hopped a plane to an exotic location some six, ten or fourteen time zones away will know that the pure energy and excitement of the trip can be quickly and painfully eclipsed by exhaustion, confusion and ultimately a totally screwed up sleep schedule for anything from a few days to a few weeks….