Archive for September, 2012

September 25, 2012

Two Years, Eighty Posts

I can’t believe that this is my eighty first post and that I’ve been blogging for two years!  Who could believe that so much could even happen in two years!  I went from living in Toronto to Switzerland to Toronto to Rome to Uganda to Cambridge, and met so many amazing people and had some great experiences along the way!  Next stop is Toronto yet again where I’ll be moving short term for work.  I think that this blog has indeed succeeded in my goal of being a life section like I described in the very first post that I published.   Thanks for following along.

September 24, 2012

Opa en Oma

In August my family was blessed with a two week visit from my dad’s parents who live in Holland.  It was awesome to spend time with them.  On one afternoon we took them to visit Niagara falls.  It had been a long time since I was there and it was a beautiful day.  I am so blessed to have such a beautiful and awesome family!

DSCN4612 - Copy


September 24, 2012


So I write way to much.  I’m going to try to keep this one shorter.  Let’s see.  I went to Princeton and it was a very quaint town and campus.  I met up with a classmate of mine from Waterloo who has just started there and it was cool to get a first hand description of the place.  On my way to Princeton I had a stupid moment where I did not go the ATM to grab cash before leaving NYC.  It wasn’t until I was on a pay road that I realized I might not have enough money to actually pay the toll.  That was indeed the case and I was a dollar short!  The woman in the booth was really grumpy and about to pull out a bunch of paperwork, when a friendly guy in the booth next door generously gave me a buck to cover it.  Whew!  I think God was watching over me on this trip!  I certainly had enough close calls!

After that I went on to Philadelphia and arrived late afternoon.  I stayed with a friend who I met during my stay in Rome a year ago.  That evening we hung out and had beers, and the next day he kindly took the time to show me around downtown Philly.  It was really fun to wander around with another person for once!  I saw Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell, the statue of William Penn on the town hall, William Penn at the angle where it looks like he’s taking a piss, and Love Park.

At noon it was time to head home, and after about nine hours on the road, I finally arrived!  It was an awesome road trip!

September 16, 2012

New York City

The next morning it was time to head to the next destination:  New York City.  The other guy who ended up visiting Boston at the same time as me was also planning to head to NYC and so I ended up giving him a ride.  The first excitement of the day was nearly having my van towed because of local rules for street cleaning in Cambridge.  Yikes!  We headed out at nine in the morning with plans to stop in New Haven on the way so that I could check out Yale.  We arrived two hours later and Yale also had a beautiful campus and great facilities.  They didn’t offer a tour though which was too bad, but there was someone there who was able to answer my questions.  We also quickly stopped in on the building across the street which is the Yale University Art Gallery, designed by architect Louis Kahn.

After grabbing lunch we began the second half of our journey to New York City.  The directions and roadways got more and more confusing and so it was very helpful having someone in the passenger seat!  The traffic conditions were good and we arrived smoothly to Manhattan and found the parking garage I had looked up in advance.  It was certainly strange to leave my keys with a valet, but many garages in NYC are small and have lifts that stack parked cars one above the other.  Crazy!  Because I wasn’t going to meet my next contact until closer to the evening, I walked with my Boston friend up to Time Square and hung out for a few hours and had beers with some friends of his.  Soon it was time for me to leave and find the apartment of the friend that I would be staying with for the next two nights.  I took the subway so that I didn’t have to walk too far again with my heavy bag, and didn’t have any trouble finding her.  She is an awesome girl who is the friend of a fellow intern that I met in Uganda.  One of her housemates joined us and we went out to a restaurant in Alphabet City that made excellent southern food, and then had a chill evening at home just chatting and relaxing.

The following day was similar to the second day in Boston.  I went out on a day trip to discover Manhattan and visit Columbia University’s graduate school of architecture.  I started there on the Northwest side of Manhattan, and spend the morning wandering down through Central Park.  I stopped at the Guggenheim Museum (Frank Lloyd Wright), the Whitney Museum of American Art (Marcel Breuer), and the new Apple Store (Bohlin Cywinski Jackson).  After walking the entire length of central park, I finally got on the subway to check out the far lower West Side neighborhood of Chelsea and the newly developed High Line (Field Operations/Diller Scofidio + Renfro)  The High Line was probably my favourite site of the day.  It is a one mile stretch of what used to be a raised rail line, that has been redeveloped into an urban park.  It offered new and surprising views of the surrounding city, was full of activity, and has a very coherent and beautifully thought-out design.  I also checked out the Chelsea market which is an enclosed urban food court, shopping mall, office building, and television production facility that was formally the National Biscuit Company factory complex (where Oreo cookies were born).  I got on the subway one more time and arrived at the financial district where I got a view of the One World Trade Center (David Childs/Daniel Libeskind) under construction, but was disappointed to discover that I needed a ticket obtained in advance to see the National September 11 Memorial & Museum (Michael Arad/Peter Walker/Davis Brody Bond).  Until next time then.  I then headed to Battery park on the southern most tip of Manhatten, and saw the Statue of Liberty in the distance backed by the nearly setting sun.  By this point I was absolutely exhausted (my knee is still bothering me) and headed back to the apartment.  That night I cooked dinner for my hosts and some additional friends that they invited over.  We spent another fun evening at the apartment.

Because I didn’t need to leave New York right away in the morning, I set out to see yet a few more sites (or shall I say buildings) before I went to pick up my van.  I went to see the new Cooper Union building (Morphosis), the University Center (under construction) at the Parsons New School of Design, and lastly the New Museum of Contemporary Art (SANAA/Gensler).  Finally at noon I picked up the van and headed out of the city Princeton and then Philadelphia-bound.

September 16, 2012


I left on my road trip early Sunday morning in my parents minivan (stylin’ I know) bound for Boston.  The journey was around seven and a half hours – definitely the longest I’ve ever driven on my own.  I felt so strange crossing the border on my own in the van, with nothing but my few belongings in the back.  Some highlights along the way were stopping for Tim Hortons (I had mixed feelings of bliss and resentment), and passing a place called Canadaigua.  I also passed over some crazy awesome old steel bridges.  The toll roads took some getting used to, and I’m glad we don’t have those in Canada.  For some reason my GPS had reset itself or something and sent me to downtown Boston instead of Cambridge.  It was pretty crazy to drive through the downtown of that city, and there were a lot of underground stretches of highway.  Once in Cambridge it still took quite a while to get myself to a parking garage because of road closures.  Students, trees, brick buildings, and narrow one-way streets were EVERYWHERE.  I was disappointed to find that my phone didn’t want to work in the States (a slight oversight), and so I decided to walk to the place I was supposed to meet my CS host and try to call him on a pay phone.  Luckily after a few tries I was finally able to connect with him.  My CS host turned out to be a really nice guy.  I soon met his two other housemates and a visiting cousin who was staying over the same days as me.  That night we met up with a few other people and hit a couple of bars for food and drinks.

The next day we got up pretty early, and I headed out on a day trip while the others went to work.  I visited MIT and Harvard, and both schools were great.  Harvard was my favourite because they actually gave a formal tour and were much more friendly and welcoming, are a much bigger school, and have amazing facilities.  MIT had more the small town feel and instead of having an individual building, were mixed together in a large building with many other departments.  They were still good about answering my questions though and showing me around the maze of architecture rooms and studios.  Both the university campuses were gorgeous.

After all of those tours it was already mid-afternoon, but it wasn’t too late to do a quick jaunt around Boston.  I quickly mastered the subway and managed to see many of the sites and buildings that I wanted to see before I met up with the others again that evening.  I saw the Boston City Hall, a market area, the harbour front, the Institute of Contemporary Art (Diller Scofidio + Renfro), Trinity Church, the John Hancock tower (I. M. Pei & Partners), the Boston Public Library (Philip Johnson), and the Christian Science Plaza (I. M. Pei).  It was an awesome day.

That night our CS gang decided to go grocery shopping and then eat in.  We all chipped in and made delicious lasagna and enjoyed it over good wine, great conversation, and classic rock/pop music that eventually led to an in-house dance party of four.  Good times!

September 16, 2012

Road Trip

Transitions:  You’d think I’d be used to them by now, you know with my nomadic lifestyle and all.  But this is the first time in five years that I haven’t had many of my decisions laid out for me.  The world feels quite literally at my doorstep and I don’t know what to do with myself.

As many of you readers know, I finally graduated this August with my bachelor of architectural studies.  This should feel like an accomplishment, but mostly all I’ve been feeling is anxiety over what to do next.  After being in a fixed program for so long, it is no wonder I am a little bit lost.  I have not really decided where my life is headed, and that has caused me to take a year off from my studies to try and discover who is or who do I want Lise to be.  All of these years I have believed that God has a plan for my life.  He certainly gave me the ability and passion for architecture at a very young age.  But back then, going to Waterloo to do architectural undergraduate studies was pretty much my only choice; now the choices seem infinite.  But at the same time, how blessed am I to even have so many choices!

I thought that my internship earlier this year with eMi East Africa would make my destiny clearer, but it only confused me all the more (which is a healthy thing I believe).  Even though I have no idea whether architectural missions is for me, I certainly learned more about my physical and spiritual strengths, and learned that mission work can be described as investing in and giving to any community, no matter where it may be in the world.  I figure if I can find a community that I can invest in with my architectural skill, as well as my Christ-like love, then I will truly be living to the greatest degree that I can.

The problem I’m facing now is trying to find out whether my desires for my life align with God’s desires.  I’ve always had the desire to be the best architect I can be; I really want to go to a really good graduate school and cultivate a really strong international network of professionals so that one day my design work can become reality.  Is this what God wants though and am I putting my energies and time in the right places?  It seems like I’m always torn between being the best I can be at the skill that I think God has bestowed on me, and fulfilling His work for the kingdom.  Can they be one and the same?  Argh!

From all of this indecision of what to do next, and interest at least to find out where I might like to continue my education, I decided to go on a road trip to the US to discover for myself many of the graduate schools of architecture that are supposed to be the best down there.  I planned a six day venture where I would visit Boston, New Haven, New York, Princeton, and Philadelphia.  I didn’t find anyone who was interested in joining me, and so I turned to Couch Surfing as a way to meet people, get to know the cities, and travel cheaply.   At first I didn’t get any responses from these places, but with some help of friends, and friends contacting friends (thanks guys, you know who you are!), I finally had a place to stay every night.  In a way I’m glad I went alone.  It meant that I was forced to problem solve and figure things out on my own, that I could see what I really wanted to see, and ask the questions I wanted to ask.  It also became a time to meditate and pray.  The trip was fabulous and I look forward to writing about it!

So for those of you who are interested in my life section, enjoy the followings posts from my recent travels!

September 3, 2012

Doodle Music

Check out this awesome video by Mathemusician Vihart.  I love how she connects the pattern of mathematics and music and makes it into something that can be sensually understood and enjoyed.