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An Ode to Aberdeen

My dearest Aberdeen,

Tonight is my last night sleeping on your lovely grounds. Tomorrow I will set foot back on home land. You have put me through hell and heaven and here is my ode to you.

I was amazed by your gray streets. The sunshine and rain you gave me the first few days made me see the streets in all its beauty and ugliness. The granite your houses are built of, sparkle in the sun and make a gray day even more depressing. Little castle-like buildings made me realize I was actually in Scotland.

The mountains and hills surrounding you are absolutely stunning. I loved being so close to the sea. In the few months I was here, I have seen more sunshine than rain which was a total surprise to me! This allowed us to enjoy all the little trips we made to see those mountains, hills and sea in beautiful sunlight.

No matter how ugly some of your residents are, they are one of the nicest people I have come across. Always willing to help, wishing you a nice day and in for a small talk. Just sitting on the bus into town hearing them speak in that heartwarming accent always put a smile on my face.

One thing that made my jaw drop, happened when I was waiting for my bus. There was no pushing, no angry looks, only a neat line of people, patiently waiting their turn to enter the bus. No matter how much it was raining. I might have made some people angry by not realizing there was a queue the first few times, I apologize for that!

The contrasts between people here made me think of the city in a different way. The homeless people sitting on the streets till the sun comes up and the shiny new cars driving by, showing off. This all because of the oil that is hidden just off shore. Giving people great lives, attracting the less fortunate.

The thing I want to thank you most for, is what you have taught me over the last few months. Never have I had such a hard time at some occasions here. Somehow, somewhere, I found the strength to hold on and never give up. You showed me how much I can do and I will always be grateful for that.

This is not a goodbye, this is a see you again sometime. Although I loved the snow the last few days, we didn’t get to go on our little road trip because of it. This means I have to come back to see all the things I still want to see! Hereby I promise you, I will be back one day.

So thank you once again. I can’t wait to go home, but you will always have a special place in my heart. I will miss you Aberdeen.

Love,

Kyley

MF- Last day Aberdeen

 

 

Let’s Talk Culture

Once again I got the question what I actually want to do once I finish my tourism degree. Except this time the person in question kept asking and the final question was what tourism is for me. What is travelling for me? Why do I find travelling so fascinating?

Cultures was my first answer. When I travel, I want to see the culture of the country. The deepest layer of the people, their routines and how they live. You haven’t seen a country until you really feel the culture.

Just now I have an exam coming up about globalization. One of the most interesting aspects is how it effects culture. Is the whole world really turning slowly into America?

No. Compared to some other travelers amongst us I might have little travel experience, however with what I know and have seen around me I honestly think America can not take over the world and change all the cultures. We will not turn into McWorld.

People might walk down the street in Indonesia with their Starbucks coffee, pass 10 McDonalds, watch American TV shows and want the American dream, they will still go home, take care of their loved ones, do their rituals. The values and believes they inherit from their parents and society are so ingrained, I think it is almost impossible to change that.

The outside of cities might get an American feel to it, but what keeps culture alive is the people themselves. As a traveler you have to go off the beaten track, talk to the locals, experience their daily routine and get a feel of their culture. That’s what travelling is all about for me and that’s what I find so fascinating.

MF - Culture

Back in Aberdeen

Christmas is over, New Years has gone by and I’m back in Aberdeen. Time to get serious and start my exam preparation! I’m just having a little trouble concentrating.. I just finished my third cup of coffee and can’t find my concentration anywhere. Everything distracts me and I find myself doing anything but studying..

So I might as well put my time to some use and write!

MF - Christmas dinner

Being home for Christmas gave me space to breathe again, relax and live my life. 19 People at one big table, enough wine, a 5 course dinner and the traditional singing of childhood songs gave me the ultimate Christmas feeling again.

New Years was spent here in Aberdeen with 2 good friends of mine. We read on the internet that Amy McDonald was going to perform at a street party so we wondered down the main street only to find it empty.. The security people hadn’t heard of anything major going on in the streets so we gave up and went to a pub. Later on we found out we were 4 years too late to see Amy McDonald.. Oops! We still had a fun night with a bit of disappointing fireworks but started 2013 as you should: partying it up!

MF - 2013 Sparkles

With only 2 more weeks left in Scotland, 2013 is going to be the year of staying home for me. Being abroad for most of 2012, it is now time for me to be home.

Keep the earth below my feet
From my sweat, my blood runs weak
Let me learn from where I have been

~ Mumford and Sons – Below my feet 

This. Is Scotland.

I had been looking forward to this past weekend for over a month. Not only did this weekend mean it was almost my birthday, I was going to see what all the hype about Edinburgh was.

After witnessing Aberdeen’s hour of horror (between 5 and 6 a.m. Saturday morning), when all the people you see are either too drunk to make it home or still sleep drunk, I made my way to the bus station where I met my fellow city trippers. 3 Hours later, we were walking through the buzzing heart of Edinburgh.

I now can help the hype going for this beautiful city. Walking through the old part it’s like you stepped back in time with buildings like little castles and street performers gathering crowds of people. You can just feel the history and see the stories. This is what I imagined Scotland looked like.

In 2 days we saw almost every tourist attraction we wanted to see. The castle, the cathedral, how they weave kilts, Holyrood palace, a pub on Grassmarket, the Royal Mile, the Edinburgh Vaults, lots of Christmas decorations, lots of fancy warehouses, lots of amazing old architecture, many more things and of course the Christmas market.

MF - Edinburgh 1 MF - Gluhwein MF - Bagpipe MF - Edinburgh MF - Edinburgh castle MF - Kilt weaving MF - Little castle OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA MF - Old City

This is a city where I could see myself living one day. A city well worth visiting. A city I will help to keep the hype alive.

A Break in Newcastle

*Written on Friday November 30th, 2012* 

Long train journeys always make me want to write. They give me the opportunity to gather my thoughts and order my overly-active brain.

As I’m writing this on my BlackBerry for lack of paper, listening to mumford and sons (my all time favourite band!) and the smell of beer from the guys in front of me making me even more excited for this trip, I’m on my way to Newcastle, England! To visit my friend Chloe, whom I met in Ghana where I caught the famous travel bug. It was with her that I backpacked through Australia and we haven’t seen each other for over 3 years!

So while I’m on this side of the North Sea, a visit had to be done. Not only am I excited to see her, I’m on the move again! The lenght of the trip doesn’t matter. I will be in a new city, exploring my surroundings and most important, out of Aberdeen! No bad word about Aberdeen, I love the place, I just need a change of environment now and then.

This weekend will be all about catching up, bringing back memories of Australia, having fun and forgetting about all the school work waiting for me when I get back. Apparently Newcastle is famous for it’s party scene so I have to do some of that as well of course.

As we’re nearing newcastle, the lads on the train are starting to feel the effect of the alcohol they have been consuming sinds Aberdeen. Beers are falling over, the “for fuck sakes” are being yelled and no matter how much I hate overly drunk lads, I can’t help myself but to smile at their accents. After the Irish accent, the Scottish accent is my all time favourite.

As my overly-active brain is ordered again, the train is pulling into Newcastle. With snow falling down outside, I know I’m up for an exciting weekend. Time to find Chloe.

First sea after 3 months on the farm

Chloe and my feet in the sea after working 3 months on a farm in the outback of Australia

One Single Chapter

Once upon a time, there was a lost girl. She didn’t know she was lost until she graduated high school. All her friends were off to college or university, a clear plan in mind. She was the only one who chose to follow her heart to Africa, in search of her path in life. Somewhere in the middle of Africa, she got bitten by a bug. The oh so very famous travel-bug. It was through this bite, that she wasn’t lost anymore. This bite lit up her path and continues to do so. The lost girl wasn’t lost anymore.

With all my heart, I thank this beautiful travel-bug for biting me. Even though I am only 22 years old, I have seen more of the world than most of my peers. It’s like a fire of curiosity burning inside me to see more, keep travelling and never stop.

Born and raised in Canada, moving to Holland and two parents with travel backgrounds, it’s like travelling is in my genes. In my genes and released by that bite in Africa. Australia with a small hop over to Fiji, was my next adventure followed by Indonesia and Thailand. Now I’m here, in the welcoming arms of Scotland.

Photographing was always a part of my travelling. Trying to somehow capture the feel of the country I was in. With little to non-existing knowledge of photography, I snapped away whatever  I thought captured future memories that would bring back the feel of the country. It wasn’t until my mother visited me in Bali, Indonesia, that I saw the pattern of all those photo’s.

She asked me why I always take photos of my feet and everything fell into place. The feel of the countries or places I have been cannot be captured with a camera. It is the physical proof of me standing somewhere that brings back the feelings and memories.

When we first started this photojournalism class, we were asked to choose a subject. Something we could tell a story about using photo’s. These 20 photo’s, carefully taken and selected, represent my story. The story of Kyley Bakker, an exchange student finding her way around Aberdeen and the rest of Scotland.

They represent me, finding friends, seeking adventure, discovering cities, emerging in the local life, celebrating local holidays, opening my eyes to my surroundings, finding beauty just around the corner, discovering my likes and dislikes, making friends for life, looking at the details, searching contrasts, finding myself yet again.

Although these photo’s together tell my story as an exchange student, individually they show the feelings I have been going through at the same time. Some might not be as visually interesting as others, but if you look carefully and take a second to think about what is actually shown, you might see the deeper meaning I tried to capture.

These 20 photo’s don’t tell a complete story. This story is just a single chapter. Some already written before it, and many more to follow.

 Even though the lost girl found her lit path in life, it wasn’t as smooth and easy to walk on as she had thought. The path had high hills and deep valleys, thick thorny bushes, rocks and pebbles as far as her eye could see. It’s not an easy path and it would take all her strength to concur her path in life. But she also knew as long as the light was with her, she could see the beauty amongst everything.

She lived happily ever after. 

MF-Living on the edge MF-Rugby MF-Washing fears away MF-Rocky road MF-Make a wish MF-RGU Football MF-Friends by your side MF-Let the sky fall MF-blinded by the light MF-Lost in a hay stack MF-Love for sand under bare feet MF-Never ending circle MF-Warm arms of Scotland MF-Newcastle beauty MF-Culture sniffing MF-Standing on top of the world MF-Path of life MF-Calling home MF-Friends MF-Halloween