Posts Tagged ‘Germany’

Moving to San Francisco

Thursday, January 15th, 2015

End of June / early July marked the end of our stay in South Africa – after about a year and a half the time had come to move on. For work-related reasons, J had to move a few weeks before me, while I was wrapping up my last project in South Africa. The departure was therefore quite gradual – selling off furniture (mostly IKEA things we had bought in Germany and shipped to SA when moving there) over the course of a couple of months, firstly the non-essential things, later more and more of the stuff; putting everything in boxes and shipping it; J leaving; and lastly me moving out – the last few days I spent in the guest room of a colleague (and got pretty sick, not a good way to spend the last few days)!

On 11 July, my project was finished and I left the country that same night to fly to London. Despite the unfortunate timing that had seen J leave multiple weeks before me, we were lucky in the fact that she was booked for a training in London for the following week, so we met in London for a day and a half before she went to her training. I flew to Germany for a week to meet up with family and relatives (before moving to the next continent, again being far from most of my family). My week in Germany consisted mostly of a lot of driving – flying into Berlin and staying in Potsdam for a couple of days, and then driving to Frankfurt, Mönchengladbach/Köln/Leichlingen, and lastly Hamburg, from where I flew out again on Friday to meet J in London. From there, we then departed to San Francisco.

Arriving in SF, I still had about two weeks off, which was good to get organized, buy furniture and move, and unpack and get settled. On the first of August, I then went back to work in my new office in San Francisco.

After having spent more than five months in SF by now (time flies!), we really have been enjoying the time and we love it. Especially compared to Johannesburg: even though Joburg is a really very nice and livable city despite all its bad rep, SF is just so much more vibrant and exciting. Particularly for me, with a strong interest in technology, being in SF where you feel that you are at the forefront of development, is fantastic.

We haven’t nearly spend enough time scouting out the surroundings yet, unfortunately – two busy jobs just makes it a bit difficult sometimes, but we have done a few things that were definitely worth our while, such as visiting Berkeley and the East Brother Light Station, a tiny rock island in the bay with just an old light house and a fog horn (very important for the foggy bay); driving up to Point Reyes and eating cheese at the local creamery, visiting the computer science history museum in Mountain View (definitely super interesting for a CS geek like me, including one of the two working Babbage difference engines); and going to the Charles Dickens Christmas market in Daly City. Apart from that, we have been eating out in incredibly many different fantastic restaurants – just within ten minutes walk of the area we live in in Nob Hill, there is so much choice to pick from! Only downside is the cost – SF is really extremely expensive. For some of our restaurant bills in SF, we could have been eating out for a week in Joburg!

Another point we are really enjoying in San Fran is the walkability – in Joburg, you had to take your car everywhere, because it was dangerous without, but also because the distances were just too far. Now, we can walk to work, to restaurants, to town to go shopping, etc. And if we need to go further, we just take an Uber, a Lyft, or catch a cab – all from an app on our phones – such a difference to SA (where we were both still using employer-supplied BlackBerries)!

5 Continents in P6 Pt. 5: Germany, New York

Sunday, February 10th, 2013

After having spent a few days in Germany, mostly for me to sort out stuff related to my South African visa application, we started on a last trip before we are going to start working again in March: we went to the US East Coast with a short detour to Canada -thereby ticking off the fourth continent within a month.
The first stop (after some delays on our flight due to snowy weather in Europe) was New York. Given that I had never been to the US before, what better city could there have been to start the trip than New York? We were able to stay at the apartment of a friend of J’s, conveniently located in midtown Manhattan. New York was even colder than Germany, but since it is so much further south, the days were much longer, which was great for sightseeing.

In the six days we spent in New York, we did a lot of things – this city really provides endless opportunities! We did some of the obvious touristy things such as going to the top of the Empire State Building (really, really freezing cold there in the cold January wind with temperatures of about -10 centigrade!) , a cruise to the Statue of Liberty (unfortunately both Liberty Island and the neighboring Ellis Island which features a supposedly very interesting immigration museum have been closed since Hurricane Sandy wreaked havoc there), the 9/11 memorial (very impressive, with two square black pools in the locations of the twin towers), and visiting the Guggenheim museum (just missing the end of a big Picasso exhibition, so that half the museum was closed to set up the next show). We also did a lot of shopping, both for clothes and for gadgets (I got an iPad mini, while J opted for the less expensive option, a Nexus 7).

Most of the time, however, we spent walking around the city, checking out different areas and neighborhoods – and I must say, in NYC this is really a worthwhile activity. From the glamour and blinking lights of Broadway and Times Square to the luxurious storefronts of Fifth Avenue; from busy Wall Street to hip(ster) Williamsburg; from huge Central Park to the elevated Highline Park, which has been built on a former railroad viaduct and leads through abandoned and refurbished industrial buildings; from walking through Chinatown feeling like a colder version of Hong Kong to hearing people everywhere speak with so strong American accents that I wouldn’t know anymore how to exaggerate them.

All in all, I was very impressed by the city – so many things to see, do, and experience! It was interesting, however, how man things already felt familiar because I had seen them in movies or on TV – you get the feeling that you’re in one – if not the – cultural center of the world!

Some pictures follow.

5 Continents in P6 Pt. 4: Germany

Sunday, January 27th, 2013

Germany for me was more of a working visit than anything else, since there were a lot of this that I had to sort out – I had to get a new passport, buy things including some furniture for South Africa, ship things down there, apply for my South African visa (after having collected all the required documents for that), and move the remaining stuff out of the attic of my previous apartment in Hamburg. Between all of that, however, I also managed to introduce J to my family and also catch up with my former band mates. Also, we went to a concert in Berlin, which was very nice even though Julia Fischer, who was supposed to play the violin, couldn’t make it, being replaced by Taiwanese-Australian violinist hotshot Ray Chen (which was also nice, but not quite what we had expected also in terms of the pieces he played).

In the end, I managed to get all the things done in about two weeks, and we then left on our last “holiday” trip before we will start working again: we flew to the US east coast.

Heart of Europe National Week

Sunday, March 4th, 2012

Only two weeks after the Korean National Week, we had the Heart of Europe Week coming up. Heart of Europe, in the INSEAD case, means Germany, Austria and Switzerland, so I was personally involved in the organisation – I was responsible for all a large part of the communication: graphical design, emails that were sent out with information, printing of admission tickets etc. Also, I was sitting at the Heart of Europe booth in the hallway, selling tickets, T-shirts and providing information to the other students.

Our program over the week was as follows (click to enlarge):

The whole week was a lot of fun, and it also helped build some connections with the “12Js” (these are the students who started 4 months before us and are finishing their MBA in June 2012, we are the 12Ds because we finish in December), especially within the Heart of Europe team. Talking about the team: there are approximately the same number of Swiss and German students at the Singapore campus, and only very few Austrians. In total, our team consisted of ~25 people with varying degrees of involvement.

The events we had planned were – at least from my perspective – all a great success, especially the events in the evening: We had our “Herzblatt” dating show on Tuesday, which was Valentine’s day. In each of the five rounds, one student looking for the “love of their life” asked questions to three potential dates, who were hidden behind a wall. The questions had been prepared by the ingenious showmaster Carl-Christoph and ranged from innocent ones such as “were would you take us on our first date” to hilarious ones such as “if you were a cocktail, what would you be and what are the main ingredients” (best and completely unexpected answer by one candidate: “Carrot juice. Main ingredient: carrot.”)

On Wednesday, we had our “Bavarian dinner” at the Paulaner Bräuhaus – a very nice evening, with live music (authentically Bavarian), food ranging from Haxn over sausages to sauerkraut, and later a lot of dancing to cheesy German Schlager music.

Friday night, as the furious finale and highlight of the week, we had a “Loveparade” party at Tanjong Beach Club on Sentosa. Everybody was equipped with with fluorescing glow sticks, and we had prepared the pool at the club with a lot of small rubber ducks. A DJ was playing electronic music and party favorites, and  everybody was having a good time, dancing by the beach under palm trees 🙂

After this week, which was a really fun experience, but also a lot of work, I am already looking forward to the next national weeks which I will be participating in only passively again. Also, before the summer break we will have the “bidding day” coming up, a day in which different nations compete for four national weeks to be organized in the second half of 2012. From what I have heard from the 12Js, the bidding day is a really great experience and great fun, so I am also looking forward to that!



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