Holiday time of the year

There comes a time when you get tired of being on a plane or waiting at an airport. Actually I don’t believe this comes later. It is there from the beginning. The only difference is that when you fly for the first few times you are too excited too care. Well…not anymore. I now even dislike packing.

Anyway, I am here to tell you about my lovely holiday. Every year we go away for 2- 2 and a half weeks and we get to relax and enjoy new places. This year it was the US. After a horrible 24h spent on planes, in airports and taxis we started our journey in L.A.

I should mention from the beginning that I went to L.A., San Francisco and New York only and that the last was the most amazing one. I actually changed my opinion of the states after this holiday. First of all, it is exactly as depicted in movies. Everywhere! I did not expect that. I thought they somehow make it look much nicer and different but no, it is exactly like that.

Secondly, coming from Germany – home of probably the worst customer services in Europe – I was impressed by the american hospitality. Yes, it’s “fake”- it is a job after all – but at least they make an effort. They will explain everything as good as possible and they will help you and smile. Even when they cannot do anything for you, they will still be polite. Compared to what I am experiencing at home, someone rudely saying “Nein! Auf wiedersehen!”, it was a big improvement.

Ok, so let’s talk about L.A., the city of celebrities and “glam”. I found it unimpressive. You cannot live there if you do not have  a car and of course the traffic is horrible, parking is usually annoyingly expensive everywhere and there are so many cars!! Think about this: a family of 4 will probably mean 4 cars in L.A., because they all need to get to different places. And since the city is very big and has not developed with public transportation in mind, they will not be able to change that. I did enjoy the Warner Brothers Studio Tour (highly recommend it), the basketball game and Disneyland (both parks) but this is pretty much it. You can go to the beach, eat good food and uhm, maybe go see Endeavour (they have it at the California Science Centre). It’s a good place to relax, but I would not live there or go there on holiday again since I’ve seen everything there was to be seen.

Next up is San Francisco. This one I liked better. Silicon Valley looks nice, the streets in SF are interesting and the architecture is special. I am techie so I really enjoyed the vibe of the city and the fact that you can actually see the latest stuff being used by people. They seem to be early adopters which is great. To give you an idea, they use Apple and Google Pay while in Germany they have just started to accept MasterCard and Visa IN SOME PLACES. Ridiculous, right? It’s also funny how in airports I usually have to explain that my watch is a smartwatch so that’s why I am taking it off and placing it in the tray instead of passing through the gate with it. In SF I just felt like I belong, like I am not a gadget freak.

New York…this one was my favourite and there are so many things to be said about it. It is a vibrant city and it has a special charm of its own. Yes, it’s full of sky scrapers and apartments in Manhattan tend to be quite small (unless you’re rich, of course), but the energy, the views, the politeness of people and the countless things happening there make it so attractive. I loved this city. It is a “concrete jungle where dreams are made of”. One of the things that surprised me was how nice New Yorkers are. Even though they are constantly in a hurry and they move at impressive speeds, they will always stop and apologise if they somehow touch you by mistake. They are polite and helpful. I also need to give them credit for how they organised the city. The streets are grid like and the majority are numbers. It is so easy to get to places like this. You always know they go south to north or east to west. As simple as that.

Someone asked me if I would move to New York. The answer is I don’t know, it depends, but probably not. As much as I like the city, I still have my reservations about the American work-life balance. They live to work, while Europeans tend to be the other way around: they work to live. My personal belief is work hard – play hard. So I agree with hard work but I need my time off. I believe hard work is not sustainable without time off, without balancing your life and indulging every now and then. I love my holidays and my time spent off work. I actually spoke to someone who, during her first 2 years in NYC did not take holiday at all. I was all like “no no no!”. Now she has 2 weeks of paid holiday and she can take unpaid leave as much as she likes but she does’t really. You have to be considerate when using that and let’s face it: there is always a lot of work to be done everywhere!

If you’re ever in L.A. or New York, I have some food recommendations for you. Just drop me a line.

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Teaching my dog German

Weird, right? Well, we have been living in Berlin for a quite a while now and the magical time for the yearly long and exciting holiday is approaching.

I have booked him a Hundepension and I realised that the people taking care of him will talk to him in German. So, armed with treats and patience I taught my dog a few important words: Komm, Nein and Platz (Come, No and Sit). Apparently it worked so when I will get back from my holiday, I will try to teach him some new stuff.

Quiet Time in Wroclaw

We went to Wroclaw for three days and it was a relaxing break.

The city itself is small, but chic (around the city centre). It is quite affordable compared to Germany, which makes it an attractive place to go to for a weekend.

There isn’t much to say about it. Just a few long walks and some well deserved time away. I did like the dwarves of Wroclaw. 🙂

 

People in Berlin

One of the things I like the most about Berlin is that it is full of fascinating people. This city is indeed international.

Everyone has a story and a journey that brought them here. If you are curious like me and you ask questions, they will tell you about them. I am intrigued by the various reasons that make people move abroad, by the choices they make in their lives and how they perceive their experiences.

This city has given me the chance to meet people from around the world. I’ve been lucky to interact with people from all over Germany, UK, Sweden, Netherlands, Hungary, Poland, Italy, Spain, Malta, Austria, Bulgaria, Ireland, Russia, USA, Mexico, EL Salvador, Venezuela, Surinam, Argentina, India, Sri Lanka, Cambodgia, China, South Korea,  Ukraine, Czech Republic. Exciting, right? And I’ve only been here for 8 months.

This of course has its downsides. I sometimes feel like native citizens tend to be ruder here than in the rest of the country. I get the impression that they are quite angry with the number of people moving to Berlin. More on this at a later time.

The art of being punctual

I don’t know about you but it drives me crazy when people keep being late (like 95% of the time).

I am not some crazy person who doesn’t understand when there are real delays, out of or own control (we’ve all been there), but I am so tired of people being late because they are late.

There are 2 categories here: friends and coworkers. I guess it’s karma (since I love to be punctual) that 90% of my friends are almost always late. And they do so because they do not organise themselves properly. In 95% of the situations they either forget to check their watches or are too lazy to speed up whatever they were doing before. The top of the iceberg is when we all go on holiday and they get upset because not everyone is waiting for them. Well, sorry but we’re not sorry. If we agree to meet at 8, I’m not going to make a scene when you turn up at 8:05 or 8:10, but when you get there between 8:30 and 9 I am very annoyed. At least do me the courtesy of calling and tell me to go ahead with whatever we were planning to do (like eating when I’m starving while waiting for you).

The second category is coworkers. At least my current ones. They schedule a meeting a week in advance and when the time comes they are nowhere to be found. I wait for them or go looking for them only to discover they are chatting with their mates, making coffee or whatever else. Ow, we had a meeting? You fu*king requested it, I did not RSVP ‘Attending’ because I am bored. And then they decide they need a coffee before we actually start, because why not?

Why do people not care about being on time? Don’t they see it’s sort of disrespectful?

Grit

I’ve been thinking about success and happiness a lot lately.

Happiness is definitely an abstract one simply because it can mean so many different things. We all have something else that makes us happy and somehow those things tend to change as we grow and learn. There is no universal standard. It’s simply the right fit for the right person. The catch here is that sometimes, the more “right fits” you have, the more your standard grows.

Success…How do you define it? What do you think it means? I tie it strongly to career and social accomplishments but I cannot yet pinpoint what it would look like for me. I believe a healthy dose of ambition is required. It’s about working in a smart way, about starting whatever you need to in the present and about having the courage to fight hard for what you want to achieve. Get as much feedback as possible, never stop learning, keep your priorities straight and your head up. Good things happen to those who do not give up. Also, this may come as a big cliche but the best things in life are rarely easy to achieve.

So to simplify it, it’s about grit. You need to got to war if you want to win the battle. Add a pinch of luck and who knows…

Home away from home

It’s been over 4 months since I moved away from my home country. The decision to move was easy to make in the beginning but the closer the time came to do it, the more difficult it became.

To begin with, I would say the logistics one needs to take care of when moving feel never ending. No matter how organised you are and how well you plan things, you will always come across tiny little details which require a change of plans. Going to a place on holiday or temporarily does not give you the full picture of what it’s like living there. You get to discover new things one by one only after you get to the new place. And so, you begin to adapt.

You will be happy, sad, frustrated, tired, annoyingly excited and you will miss your ‘old life’. You will experience an array of emotions in the first few months and you will start getting to know yourself better. Of course, if you already have friends in your new place, things might be  a bit different. If you don’t know that many people, you will start to question yourself. Like I said before, the joy of discovering and experiencing new things will be amazing, but at the same time you will wonder if you miss what you left at home, if it was the right decision and so on. You will become more attuned to your likes, dislikes and habits. You will learn a lot, and I mean a lot of new stuff about yourself and the world around you.

It’s important to be aware of the fact that each culture has its own set of particularities. In order to fit in wherever you are, you will work hard to adapt. I’ve heard people advertising how welcoming this and that city is and how great they are treated, but believe me that can only be partially true – especially if you find yourself in a language barrier situation. The truth is, you are a foreigner. You will make mistakes, you will not understand why they do things in a certain way and you will not feel like you belong (at least not immediately). I’m sure it’s a different journey for everyone but I also strongly believe that integration does not happen overnight.

Me? I’m still putting out fires and coming to terms with things that annoy me but I am starting to feel at home. It is getting better mostly because I love the city, the opportunities and the endless activities you can be a part of. I’m still very passionate when complaining about crappy customer services and the amount of bureaucracy, but I am growing into expecting all sorts of weird (for me) stuff. So I’m getting there. While I still miss my friends from home, my life here is happier overall.

Thinking of moving abroad? Go for it! The experience will transform you and you will learn so much. Of course it depends on everyone’s individual circumstances so be careful when assessing yours. In the end, if things go bad you can always move on. Life is not perfect and being a responsible adult is not easy but everything you do is part of a bigger journey. You just need to figure out what you want.

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