Look to Nature

As a curious person I enjoy coming up with ideas for little studies on random things I admire. I like analyzing and reflecting on the inspiring things I see and sometimes a pattern appears that is so prevalent I have no choice but to carry out the experiment. This happened recently with my fascination surrounding nature and color.

I am obsessed with color. From all of my experiences outdoors so far, I believe that nature is the ultimate color master. In fact the most in-depth color theory practice I had was painting landscapes. You have to scrutinize what the color is that you are seeing and figure out what colors make it up in order to mix your paint into the proper shade. It was extremely difficult until I stopped expecting what color to see and saw what was really there. By studying landscapes, nature, I learned how to analyze color and decipher the mixture of basic colors that were creating the shades I saw in nature.

Throughout my excursions to the Alps and a few other trips to beautiful places of nature, I’ve been constantly amazed at how the colors in the landscapes were all so perfectly coordinated. Even when the weather wasn’t sunny, the land was still colored beautifully. To me, it is clear that nature is the ultimate color master: a pro at tone, a sage in saturation, a guru of hue, if you will (let myself get carried away with that one).

I couldn’t deny this pattern I was seeing because it was everywhere. So to test and prove it, I took my photographs (important caveat, cameras cannot capture everything perfectly) from traveling and pulled color palettes from them. I’ve found that in doing so I see palettes that are typical in all areas of art and design. I suppose as human beings we can’t help but be inspired by nature.

 

Bernese Alps, Switzerland

Bernese Alps - earthy
 

Mt. Rigi, Switzerland

Mt. Rigi, Luzern, Switzerland - so fresh
 

Colmar, France

Zermatt, Switzerland

 

Sardinia, Italy

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The Matterhorn, Switzerland

Täsch, Switzerland

 

Bellinzona, Switzerland

Evening Strolls

One of my favorite quotes comes from an NPR interview with chef José Andrés: “If you want to get inspired you have to be on the move.” I am always searching for inspiration; I want to see everyday things in a way I didn’t before and discover the world’s hidden details. This quote speaks to my belief that getting out of the house, out of the daily routine, for a simple walk, with no intention in mind other than to wander, is essential for discovery.

Furthermore, I am a proponent of being active and staying in motion. I’ve always loved a good walk. It's a way to clear the mind, be present in the world and learn something new. Walking has calmed me since I was a toddler. When I couldn’t go to sleep my parents would walk me around the house because it calmed my overactive mind. Thus the evening walk prevails in my life (not to be confused with post-lunch walks and morning walks; the latter preferably on a beach).

This semester I’ve had the pleasure of embarking on a few evening strolls that have lead to many discoveries. Although these walks happened in very different cities across Europe, the connection I found between them is that all cities follow a simple formula to an evening. The interesting part is how these cities differ in the way they treat the nighttime.

Let me paint a picture of this formula: The aperitif hour ushers in the dinner hours with clicking glasses, excited chatter and the promise that anything can happen as the day slides into night. The conclusion of dinner brings soft, contented sighs and quiet voices heard over the last flickers of well-worn candles. At this point some parts of cities, gloriously food-comma’d, head home and recline on their couches for a relaxing night in. Others dim the lights but raise the volume of music, creating an atmosphere that could make anything can happen. I’ve seen all of these stages as I've wandered and it has been so interesting to see how cities vary in the way they treat this simple formula of an evening.

So here are a few snapshots from my walks. And a few notes. I hope that through them you become inspired to take a few evening strolls of your own.


ZÜRICH, SCHWEIZ

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Instead of the main event being restaurants and bars, the Old Town of Zürich is purposefully lit to highlight all of the churches and notable buildings along the Limmat river.

This area of Zürich is pretty quiet in the evenings even though there are always people around. No one seems to talk too loudly or walk too fast at this time. Granted, there is a rule that quiet hours start at 22:00 (10pm) so I suppose that this could contribute to the muted tone of the evening.

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Hamburg, Germany

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This is the Speicherstadt, the world's largest warehouse district built on timber-pile foundations, looking very eerie on a cool, damp evening. This place was silent except for a few tourists who came by to admire the brick monoliths.

I loved the way the uplighting highlighted the artwork on the side of the building. Even though these buildings were not right next to each other the lighting connected the aesthetic across the plaza.

Ah, the Reeperbahn. This street is the heart of Hamburg's red light district. I've never been to an area like this so I was pretty excited to walk through it. Hamburg's damp climate allows the neon lights to reflect off of surfaces you wouldn't expect. You are surrounded by color and glare sharply offset by dark as night corners and alleys. (Don't worry, Mom, I didn't walk this one alone.) The energy in the air was intense, thick like the fog on the Elbe, and I enjoyed being surrounded by people looking for a reason to celebrate. This was the most active nightlife place I experienced on my evening strolls.

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This is the view from clouds; the best rooftop bar in Hamburg (according to the bartender although I believe he was right). I was unlucky yet lucky when I arrived. Unluckily I missed the open rooftop bar season by one night. Luckily, I made friends with the bartender and still got to see it. Despite the 24/7 rainy weather, no fog had settled and I was treated to a clear view of the city. This picture is looking across the River Elbe to the shipyards. I was already impressed with Hamburg's beauty and this was the icing on the cake.


Milan, Italy

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The Naviglio Grande was beautiful at night. I explored this area in November so it was dark by the aperitif hour. People were all over, some getting drinks, but many just out for an evening stroll like myself. I was in a community of wanderers and we were all lazily soaking in the Italian evening.

Later in the evening after the Italian dinner hours, in which dinner doesn't begin until 21:00 (9pm), I strolled through the center of the city. I was happy to see how many people were still out despite the fall chill. The Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, the Duomo di Milano Italy and surrounding streets were alive and well. I love how these grand, public spaces are appreciated at night just as much as they are during the day.

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That's all for now, but more evening strolls will be coming soon. Thank you for reading!

Oh the people you'll meet!

I believe that it imperative to go and do things on your own. It’s a unique opportunity to grow as an individual because you can’t feel pressured by anyone other than yourself. I’ve grown more and more comfortable with embarking on solo adventures and now I see them as exciting opportunities to meet people.

These serendipitous meetings always teach me something so I’ve made a catalogue of these wonderful people to remember how they’ve impacted me.

NOTE: The names of these individuals have been changed because I do not have the ability to contact them to ask for permission to use their names.

 

ZÜRICH, SCHWEIZ

A group of Saudi Arabian men and an old, yet spry Swiss-German woman as their guide

I was sitting along Lake Zürich, near Bellevueplatz, enjoying the sun and watching the tourists feed the swans. I was happily swinging my feet above the water when a group of Saudi men asked to join me on the stone wall. The man to my right asked right away if I spoke English. It was nice because I hadn’t said much to anyone all day since I don’t know any Swiss-German. We exchanged a few words about where we came from and what we were both doing in Zürich although I’m not sure either of us fully understood the other. We mostly laughed at the swans racing each other to catch the bread crumbs and shouted in surprise when a swan reared up and bit my sneakered toes (probably because I wasn’t tossing any bread).

Soon the old woman, who was a tour guide for this group, starting passing around snacks and I was surprised and delighted when they offered me a banana as well. I was actually quite hungry and I didn’t want to leave the lake so this was amazing!

Overall this was a short, 15-minute exchange but what struck me most about the whole thing was how open these guys were to sharing with a complete stranger they could barely speak to. It was a nice gesture and now I carry around extra snacks in case I run into a hungry looking stranger too.

 

LUZERN, SCHWEIZ

A Korean Girl also traveling solo - Claire

On the boat ride across Lake Luzern, en route to Mt. Rigi, I sat next to a young, Asian woman about my age. I didn’t say anything but halfway through the trip she asked if I was travelling alone. We immediately bonded over our solo travel status and, amidst gasps at the gorgeous scenery, kept up a steady conversation. She was from South Korea, had just left a stressful job and was taking some time off to travel before heading back home. Switzerland was her main focus for travel although she was hoping to see some of Germany as well.

After the boat ride we hopped onto a mountainside train, sharing the excitement of seeing cows in the pastures along the ride. (I am including these cows because they were just as lovely to meet!) The mountain cows are so cute and all wear bells so you can hear the clanging no matter where you are in the mountains. Anyway, my new friend and I were on a mission to see these cows up close so we hiked down a few hundred yards from the top of Mt. Rigi to a fenced in pasture. She had a selfie stick so we ran between different sections of the pasture trying to get a cow to look into the frame of her selfies.

It was nice to meet this girl because I really wanted to talk to someone and it’s always so much more fun to share the experience of something new with another person, whether that be a old friend or a fresh, new one.

 

ZÜRICH, SCHWEIZ

Swiss-German native to Zürich – Nick
Sternen Grill dinner

Sternen Grill dinner

On a warm Friday night I took myself out for a nice meal of bratwurst, the spiciest, cleans out your nose with a lick mustard, Brot (bread) und Bier at Sternen Grill. This was early during my time in Zürich and I was still pretty nervous to talk to anyone because it is awkward to explain that I don’t know German once someone starts talking to me. So I sat at an empty table and thoroughly enjoyed my meal in silence. Just as I was finishing up, a middle-aged man asked if he could share the table and I responded with a nod (really exercising my body language skills this semester). We sat in silence but made frequent eye contact accompanied by pleasant smiles. I wanted to sit and enjoy the atmosphäre but felt too awkward because I was done eating. So, I stood and made my way to the door.

I’ve always been sensitive to vibes and my intuition. In that moment my stomach sank, realizing how strange it felt to be leaving. I felt like there was a string tugging me back to where I should have stayed and I turned to find the man staring once again. I smiled and with a little shrug walked back and introduced myself. It turns out he is an architect working on historical preservation in Zürich. How lucky to meet someone who is also in my field of work! We talked about the environments people inhabit and I finally got a good explanation as to why some people, and a lot of them architects, like Nick, love having all white homes. In Nick’s perspective, all-white rooms allows for your emotions to be reflected back to you - the space doesn’t interfere. I’m not an advocate for this, I believe in color, however it was nice to hear a solid case for white rooms.

We chatted over a few beers and Nick’s girlfriend joined, who was a psychologist. She was very eccentric, wearing various layers of black sweaters and wooden jewelry. In contrast Nick was more serious in a checkered button down and tailored jacket. However they fit together with an ease I hope to find with someone one day too. Seeing them together gave me hope for the possibilities of future relationships.

In parting I made the comment on how nice all of the people that I’ve met in Switzerland have been. Nick and Fiona (much much simpler than her real name) gave each other a surprised and knowing glance. They explained, which I had heard before, that the Swiss are not known to be open to strangers. I shrugged, this wasn’t my experience but I had heard this stereotype repeated a thousand times. Nick smiled and said, “well if you’re having nice, open experiences with the Swiss, then you must deserve it.”

 

 

INTERLAKEN, SCHWEIZ

A fellow American from California – Robbie

It was classic the way we met. Waiting for the first of three trains to the top of the Jungfrau, Robbie missed his intended train and ended up on mine. We started talking because I heard him speaking English to another traveler and sat down next to them. 

En route to the Jungfrauroch, or the famous "Top of Europe", we discovered that we both had the same awe and fascination with the mountains. So, we decided to hang out for the rest of the trip and help each other take some awesome pictures.

At the Sphinx viewing tower on top of the mountain we stood outside in the freezing, winter temperature, for at least 45 minutes just staring at the glacier and Jungfrau. Both cable car rides up the mountain and back down we spent the entire time running from one side of the train to the other to catch the best views. We were both in disbelief that there were people riding down on the train and not even looking out the window at the majestic landscape! It takes two hours to descend such a big mountain and on the last leg of our journey, a train back to Interlaken, it grew dark. We agreed that at night the mountains took on a more ominous tone. They became more serious, stern even, guarding the valley like stiff knights (ritter in Deutsch). It seems that when it comes to the Alps, one’s awe during the day quickly turns into respect night.

I was very happy to share the experience with Robbie because we had the same level of enthusiasm about the whole journey. I am also thankful that he introduced me to the amazing variety of Lindt truffle flavors that you can only get in Switzerland. The mango cream and the champagne-filled truffles were life changing. I will remember this trip as one of my favorites.

The Real Deal

DAY ONE

My Dad took this photo when he dropped me off a the airport. I'm smiling but I was feeling nervous and sad about saying goodbye. 

My Dad took this photo when he dropped me off a the airport. I'm smiling but I was feeling nervous and sad about saying goodbye. 

I feel it is important to note that such an exciting adventure also comes with stress and worry. Too often social media allows you to cut out those parts because they do not fit into the glamour of the rest of the story. So I will be transparent about how I was feeling as I prepared for my move abroad.

The days leading up to my big move were full of emotions. My worrisome nature was in it's boldest attire as I prepped for my nonstop fight to Zürich, Switzerland. Somehow I got my visa, my bags and my nerve together and we all made it to the Newark, NJ airport.

I can't say that I wasn't nervous - of course I was. In fact, now that I've arrived I still am. I don't know anyone in Zürich, or Switzerland for that matter, but I do know that this will be a crazy, new life adventure. The prospect of meeting new people and the experiences I will have keeps me positive and excited. It's scary but change is good and adventures are always worth embarking on. They challenge the nervous parts of yourself that you would rather sedate with comfort. I am so so excited for this Swiss adventure but it is always bittersweet to leave the comfort of my family (including my Cincinnati family - love you girls!). But I know that goodness awaits and I am so excited to meet the people who will become my family in Zürich!

Why I sought an internship abroad

DREAMS

Hello Switzerland!

Hello Switzerland!

Ever since I started college, seeing the world of opportunities before me, I began to dream about living in another country. I hadn't dared to dream it before because traveling abroad was not something my family did and so I couldn't picture myself doing it. But, once I was on my own, I realized travel was something I could actually do and I made it a focused goal.

I have been so lucky to have gone on a few trips in university, including a landscape painting trip to Italy and traveling around the U.K. with my best friend. From those short trips, and various history lessons in school, I was intrigued by Europe. I knew that in order to gain a better grasp on the cultures I would have to spend quality time there.

Another factor that contributed to this dream is my interest in people. I like being in public spaces and attending public events because I want to see how people are brought together. In the case of shared experiences, such as a town carnival or a pop up event in a central square, the connection that develops between people is something that I strive to achieve with space through interior design. I have an American understanding of how this is done and of how people live in the USA but I wanted to experience how Europeans interact and organize their home lives.

Jungfraujoch

Jungfraujoch

So this desire for adventure, meeting people and studying the ways that people interact lead me to make living abroad a life goal. I understand what it is like to live in Cincinnati, Ohio and I want to see how life compares in another, westernized country. I want to live an everyday life, instead of frantically traveling through various countries, so I decided to begin the pursuit of my dream for my last DAAP co-op at the University of Cincinnati.

For anyone who has a similar goal, let me warn you that this was not an easy pursuit. Granted, internships abroad are generally easier to obtain than a full time position, but it still took months and months of emailing and researching companies that were abroad but also fit the type of work experience I was looking for. I was passionate about my goal but it was determination that allowed me to reach it. Keep your determination! I heard a lot of 'no' from companies and as time passed my dream looked less and less real. Without this focus I would have easily fallen out of pursuit and not into the wonderful opportunity that whisked me away to Zürich, Switzerland.

In the end, I happily and thankfully accepted an internship position with Michelgroup in Zürich, Switzerland. I was ecstatic and left with only one month to prepare. Yet somehow, as things in life seem to happen this way, everything worked out. Yes, there were stressful moments like rushing into NYC to pick up my visa the day of my flight to Switzerland or nightmares of not being able to buy groceries once I landed. If I had access to knowing the future I may have had a few less sleepless nights. But what would life be without mystery to keep you on your toes?

This is a collection of thoughts

Why am I writing this?

On top of the Jungfrauroch (image added later)

On top of the Jungfrauroch (image added later)

Hello! My name is Kimberly Kachmar. I'm all about experiences, meeting people and staying creative. Currently I'm studying Interior Design in DAAP at the University of Cincinnati. My university program requires that I have 5 semesters of internships and I was lucky enough to land a fall co-op in Zürich, Switzerland! I've created this "blog" (we'll get to the quotations in a minute) to keep track of my thoughts and observations while abroad. I also thought it would be fun to share, so thank you for reading!

First, some notes about this "blog." I am not going to call this a blog. To me the connotation of a blog is that it chronologically details the specifics of events. This is not going to be a travel blog detailing every step of my trips but rather a collection of thoughts, of internal musings, from my semester interning in Zürich. These are the lessons I learned and snippets of the experiences that are influencing my personal development. I hope that you find these things just as interesting as I do. This blog will also contain some Deutsch Wörter as practice for me in my journey to learn German.

Thank you for reading, and I wish you the best in your adventures too!