Sunday, August 29, 2010

Welcome to Brussels

August 29, 2010

I have arrived in Brussels, Belgium without any delays along the way. My flight over was amazing. I was asleep before the plane took off from Seattle, WA and woke up shortly before landing in New York. I guess it pays to only have a few hours of restless sleep the night before. I had a 3 hour layover, and seriously thought about hopping a train to the city, but decided against it. So I took a seat next to a window and started reading some literature, you know the good stuff, Us Weekly, People, Glamour, when a lady about my age sat next to me. We started chit chatting and about where we were headed and why, turns out she was going to travel around Europe by herself. She had planned a trip like this every year for 5 straight years with an ex husband, friends, when something always came up on their ends forcing her to not go. A few years ago, she read a little book you may have heard of, called Eat, Pray, Love. Way before the movie came out she decided that she was going to take this trip by herself. She reminded me of my dear friend Katie, and people like that inspire me, and still inspire me to get out and see the world. If they can do it, I CAN DO IT!

Anyways, I flew Jet Airways India, and I can’t rave enough about this airline. So, when you all come to visit me, look into this airline. WOW, is all I can say, talk about Luxury, even for the coach folks. That airline is first class all the way! I was so busy in my seat I didn’t have a chance to sleep at all on the 8 hour flight. Each seat had its own television, which had over 100 movies, music, games, history, sports, news, anything you could want to keep yourself occupied, was right there. It even had a function to IM another guest in the airplane, so Kim, the gal I met chit chatted more during our flight. Simply the best experience I’ve ever had on a plane, with one exception of flying first class to Mexico with my best friend.

I arrived in Brussels, Belgium a half hour early, and cruised right on thru customs to baggage claim. After getting 2 suitcases, and waiting for a 3rd, I saw my name being waived around on placard; it was my driver looking for me. He helped me with my HEAVY luggage and whisked me off to my hotel Novotel, which incidentally in the middle of Brussels city center. Check in was a breeze and after wrestling with my suitcases, I made it to my room. After a hot shower I decided to take a little nap before I went out exploring. My little nap turned out to be a 10 hour nap. Ooops. So much for getting out and exploring, which was okay, since everything is pretty much closed down on Sundays.

I was up this morning at about 330 bright eyed and ready to see the world, however it was still very dark outside. I waited till about 530 and decided to take a walk around. These are the very first photos I have taken since being here, more will come.

The hotel I am staying in has a buffet breakfast every morning and boy oh boy, it’s delicious! I forgot how wonderful the food is here, this time around is a bit different though, being I can only take a bite of each delicious thing before I am full. I had memories of when I was 16 years old, in the Czech Republic, flying back to me, when I took a bite of fresh French bread with brie cheese spread, a fresh tomato and crisp cucumber piled on top, I knew I was in Europe. It’s Good to be here. I am truly blessed with this opportunity, and can’t wait to share all my experiences and thoughts with you guys. Well, I am off to meet with my new people at the office.

Some random observations:

Europeans don’t wear flip flops, sure they wear sandals, but not your typical flip flop. Umbrellas to Europeans are like small dogs to American’s, you carry them EVERYWHERE.

I know I will have more, so stay tuned.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

My Adventure Begins -

August 7, 2010

Well I have decided to start a blog. This way, I can keep friends and family up to date on my comings and goings for the next few years.

My adventure begins right now. I am on Alaska Airlines, flight 522, Seattle to Burbank. I will be in the Los Angeles area to see my family, some old friends, and to say see ya later. How much later? I have no idea, as I am moving to Germany to work with my company DHL Global Forwarding. But before I get to my goodbyes, I should explain how I got to this point in the first place.

I first started working with DHL Express in 2002 in Anchorage Alaska. I was 24 years old. I had, had many other jobs, but this I can honestly say was my first “REAL” grown up job. In 2003, the company went thru some changes and all the employees were laid off. This worked out quite well for me, as I was planning on moving to Seattle, WA anyways. For my co – workers whom I adored, it was very unfortunate. I moved from Alaska in October 2003. When I arrived in Seattle, I immediately went to Airborne Express whom DHL had just purchased and got a job right away. Sweet, I still had an awesome job with DHL, or so I thought. During my time with DHL Express I left the company three times, and for various reasons and returned three times. Without going into my hectic, awful time while I was there, I will just say I am happy for that chapter to be closed, but am grateful for the opportunities that were given to me along the way. I had a few jobs in between, but was never away from DHL for longer than 8 months at a time. By the mere coincidence, this gave me the chance to keep my seniority within the company.

In May, 2008 I returned back to the company, but to a different division. I was apprehensive about going back, because my previous years were awful, and some of the hardest times in my life. Along the way I made some great friends and some people I’d rather never see again. So when I joined the Global Bid Team, with DGF (DHL Global Forwarding), I was hesitant, and a bit withdrawn. I was expecting to be in hell again, as I had been for so many years past. What I found out was the exact opposite. I had an immediate friend from my old Express days, to whom I owe the deepest thanks for recommending me for the job. Not only did our friendship grow into something I will cherish forever, I also formed friendships with my co workers, my supervisors, manager, and director. These are some of the funniest people I have ever met, and while we all are completely different, and the majority of them are women, there are no problems within the team. How is it possible to work in a large group of people and adore each and every one of them? It is unreal the closeness of this team, the respect we have for each other, and the friendships we have all made. I have had the best 2.5 years of my life with this team. In my time here, our group has grown, lost people along the way (all of which moved on within the company with the exception of one who is out saving lives as a nurse) and still with each addition and loss our team is just that, a TEAM. We help each other, we play together, we eat and drink together, we cry together, we laugh A LOT together, hell we even camp together. This kind of thing just doesn’t happen. We are lead by an amazing director who stands behind us 100% and fights for our team and I’m sure sticks her neck out more than anyone else does, all for the sake of our team. I’ve learned so much my leaders as well as each of my coworkers. It’s been a joy to work alongside some of the greatest people I know.

At the beginning of January I received a call from a gentleman from our Europe team asking why I had dropped the ball and not submitted part of my project that I was working on its deadline. Quite irritated, I told him to go bark up someone else’s tree, because I in fact submitted it 3 days before the deadline. The breakdown actually happened between a team he worked with very closely. Somehow, we got onto the subject that I wanted to move to Europe at some point in my life to work. Little did I know that the guy whom I had just literally been rude to, was someone who could make things happen, and he did.

On January 28th, I received an email from him, telling me that they wanted to interview me for a similar position that I currently held, that would be located in Bonn Germany. Totally surprised and a bit confused, I called him and talked over the position with his boss. In my head, I kept thinking, is this really happening? I never really thought it would get very far, so I just kept answering the emails, with the thought, eventually they will go away. In April, they asked me to fly over an officially interview and meet the team, so I did, well I tried to. I flew out on April 15th 2010 connecting in Philadelphia going onto Brussels, Belgium. As I was boarding my plane in Seattle, news of the volcano in Iceland had swept the news. I boarded and took off with no worries. When I landed in Philly, all airports in Europe were closed down. So, I got a hotel, and made lemonade out of lemons, even though I’m allergic. I was able to travel around Philly and even hopped onto a bus and made the trek to New York City. What an amazing city, that is. I had never been to the east coast and absolutely fell in love with NYC. The energy, the lights, the neighborhoods, the food and people are all simply amazing. I got a 3 day ticket to a hop on hop off bus and toured the city. I’ve been told that I have seen more of the city than people who actually live there. How is that possible? A city that never sleeps and you they haven’t seen what is in their back yard.

Well I eventually got to Brussels, and in a whirl wind trip I managed to see and do quite a bit. My first dinner was at the Atomium( This structure was built for the world’s fair in 1958 and is one of the most interesting buildings I have ever been in. Here is where I had an interesting dinner, and for the first time spit food into my napkin, and when my new boss wasn’t looking, I hid some of the food I didn’t like under some ice. Shhhh… don’t tell him. The city of Brussels is robust and alive, and enticing. The brick roads, the tall ornate ancient buildings had me wandering in circles without even noticing or caring. One of my favorite things to do is to walk a neighborhood and gaze at the houses and architecture. Imagine standing at the stoop of a building that is older than our country, United States of America, it’s just not comprehendible. I was also able to take a drive to Bonn, Germany where again the buildings are intricate and inspiring, the roads are twisty, and interesting enough to pique anyone’s curiosity. This is where I will live come November after my training time in Brussels, Belgium and Basel Switzerland is over. I found the one and only Starbucks, where I also found other Americans and I can assure you all, will be my home away from home. A place I will retreat to when I am missing something familiar and comforting.

August 26, 2010
I have packed away my life and it’s on its way to Germany, where I will be reunited with it come November. I leave on August 28, 2010 and I have 2 full days left in the United States, a place where I have come to appreciate, love, take advantage of, hate, find comfort in, and more than once fall in love with. People ask me what I will miss the most when I leave; I believe it will be my country. I am an American, and even with all our faults, I am proud of where I come from and who I am. Interestingly enough, I am also, German and Dutch, two nationalities I have not been in touch with, but soon will be immersed into. I am looking forward to finding who I am in these countries, and what these places will ultimately change me to be.

I don’t know how long I will be gone, but I am going to take it day by day and commit a year and go from there. I will continue to write about my experience take photos and learn from the people and situations I find myself in. I am truly lucky to be given this opportunity and very grateful that this small town girl from Alaska will be moving to Europe and traveling the world.

So, stay tuned and return back to read what I have been up to and where I have been.

I would appreciate all of your prayers, thoughts and emails while I am gone and will think of each of you often. So as I said, I won’t say goodbye, but see you later!