Wednesday, June 27, 2012

June 22

This morning was filled with the great museum of Vincent van Gogh. No pictures of course were allowed inside of the building but I can tell you that his work is even more alive in person. The only negitive thing about my trip there was they didn't have a workshop functional like they promoted on their own website. So Instead of painting a replica of onee of his great paintings, I will have to make another trip to the Jewish market to see if I can find one there. They should be clearer on the website and post more recent times and dates for eager people like me. My room mates and I went out to eat at a local Italian resturant for the last night on the town. They were very chatty and nice people and they actually gave us a few freebies while we waited on our food. The only thing I won't miss about Europe is their resistance to seperate checks. I know it will be a long day tomorrow with an early morning but I couldn't help but stay out pretty late and enjoy the night with my new friends. I can always just sleep on the plane anyways.

June 21

Today we had our final exam, which was cool since it involoved a trip to the newest store in the city, the one and only Apple store. Talk about a great retail store experince though. I won't give too much away but I think it surpassed some of the American stores when it comes to creative P's. I chose today to finally go to the Jewish market and use that as my third retail research spot too. I've never been in a postition to barter with the saleperson until today. But it is rewarding to shop there for souvnirs instead of an overpriced shop. You can find some of the exact same things at a much lower cost! Once it got dark the entire TNCIS gorup went on a canal tour throughout the city. Though I'm sure my photos didn't all turn out, my memories won't expire anytime soon. That was a great thing to do on our second to last night here.

June 20

Rotterdam is one of the most scenic and refreshing cities I've seen in Europe. Also, I should have brought an extra pillow for the 10+ hours I was going to spend on my bike. I went on a great port cruise that showcased the cities most valuable assets. And while cruising I noticed all the great arcetchure in this place. We went to the Euromast afterwards and literally saw the entire city from a full 360 degree in the air. I stayed with Biff's class and then we went to the windmill and the great cube building. Both of which were so very cool to see. When we got done there we went to another park, safer for bikes and it had an enclosed space you could feed baby raindeer. We had a drink at some more windmills and then we headed home. Finding the train station was a little harder than we anticipated but we made it back and I felt proud of myself for keeping up with everyone on bike all day. It deffinately was a highlight to my trip.

June 19

Today was also the day was visited the flower market. I can only say that it was an experince I won't soon forget. From the fast paced auctions to the unquie plants we found I took so many pictures of that place! Perhaps I will switch my career to botanist rather than business woman. But I'm afraid it also kick started my allergies too, so that might not be the best career path for me. I came back to the hostel with a headache and a stuffy nose. It was worth it in my opinion to see all those beautiful roses though.

June 18

Today was pretty relaxing. We had class and I got breakfast. Which in my opinion was the best in all three hostels. Other than class my room mates and I just explored the city and tried to scope out the souvnirs that Amsterdam has to offer. I did notice that this city has a lot of cool things for unquie photos such as the kimono dragon garden and the giant chess board. I think I'm really enjoying the green life around here too, with Vondel Park so close to us. Tomorrow we go to the flower market and I'm pretty excited about it.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

June 22

Today is the last day in Amsterdam! It's such a sad yet happy feeling. I have gotten really close to some of these people these past three weeks. It's going to be sad having to say goodbye. Today we had our I Amsterdam card to visit the museums. This morning I went to the Van Gogh museum, it was pretty interesting and had lots of beautiful artwork. I also went to the resistance museum which probably was one of my favorites. They had a lot of information from world war II. On our way to the resistance museum we kinda got lost, but it was pretty cool because we were able to explore more of the city. I can't believe these 3 weeks are about to be over.

Friday, June 22, 2012

June 21

Last night I slept so good. I went to sleep early yesterday night because I was tired from all the bike riding yesterday. I didn't even wake up this morning until like 10. After waking up a few of us went down to the Dam square to do some shopping. I then went to burger king to use their wifi because it works so much better than the hostels Internet. I sat in their & worked on my final exam that Dr. Emailed to us this morning. It took me about 3 hours to finish it up, but overall I think I did well on it. I then headed back to the hostel for dinner and after dinner the whole group went on a canal tour. On our way there it started pouring down rain. We all got so wet, we were all just ready to get on that boat. The tour wasn't all that nice in my opinion because it was raining, but it was nice going trough the canals of the city. I can't believe tomorrow is tie last day I'm Amsterdam..

June 20 Rotterdam

This morning we had to wake up early once again. Not as early as yesterday but 8am is still pretty early. This morning we took a 1 hour ride down to Rotterdam, I was trying to sleep but it's hard to sleep on a train. Once we finally got to Rotterdam we went and rented bikes. I was so scared to get on that bike & bike right in with the people that live here. I hadn't ridden a bike since I was probably like 8. A few times I felt like I was going to get hit & I did fall off a few times. We biked from the station to where the boat was. We then had a 1 1/2 hour tour of the port. It was such a nice city. It was so modern and seemed so relaxing. Overall for the exception of the bike I had a great day in Rotterdam.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

June 20 2012 Roterdam

Today we fun event filled day in Roterdam.  The day started pretty early and ended relatively late. We met at central station at 8am and took about a hour long train ride to the city.  I tried to sleep but it was more of a tease than a energy boost that I was hoping for.  After getting off the train we went straight to the bike shop to rent our transportation for the day.  Most of us including myself hadnt been on a bike in almost a decade but it came back naturally.  Manuvering through traffic on a bike was quite an experience.  The first even of the day was the Spido boat tour of the shipping port in Roterdam.  The port was the largest port in Europe and the third largest in the world. The next stop was a TV tower within the city.  I made it to the second highest level unfortunately my nerves didnt let me make it to the top. After the TV tower we road through a small neighbohood in the city to get something to eat.  I had a chicken pizza but it didnt taste like anything from the states.  I hadnt yet felt like I had enough of Roterdam so I decided to stay a little longer with Biff's class.  We went to see where the Mayflower left to go to America. We made a couple more stops to include a boating dock, a park with a petting zoo (where we fed about 20 Bambis), and finally a nice cafe with an exception view of the lake. It was the first time I had seen real sunshine in these last three weeks. It was Beautiful. After this we made our way back to central station in agonizing pain from the bike seats. I honestly dont know Europeans ride bikes all day. I didnt sleep on the hour ride back to the hostel so now I am ready to. Good night bloggers.

Monday June 18th: Recovery, Action Plan, and First Amsterdam Photo Tour

I was feeling a little bit better today but not 100%. I spent the morning recovering and drinking lots of water. I got in front of the computer again this morning because yesterday lacked any kind of productivity. The hostel here in Amsterdam is busy and there seems to always be something going on.
Despite the distractions I managed to make a plan of attack for my week and hope to land some great interviews. I have high hopes to interview Senior Marketing Managers from two global travel firms, Kuoni and Club Med. I have also scouted several smaller companies and one travel firm that specializes in study abroad for Dutch high school and university students. Admittedly it has been difficult to get meaningful interviews and I'm not too keen on accepting interviews from local kiosks and small travel companies. I am looking forward to pushing myself to land greater scale interviews this week and in the future. I feel as though my interview skills and closing skills have improved in just these few short weeks. Tomorrow we are touring Flora Holland which will take up quite a bit of time but I intend to scout the locations of the travel company offices and make phone calls to set interviews for later in the week.
Thankfully the sunset is very late and I have plenty of time to get out and take some pictures. There's something about discovering a city from behind the lens that lets you get intimately familiar with a place. I'm feeling much better which is good because I plan to do a lot of walking. I've set two goals for myself; one is to capture as many good photos as possible, and two is to learn the layout of the city well enough to get around without a map. The buildings in this city have so much character and personality and seem to bend and move to match the canal streets. There are a few photos I've captured already that I am hoping to improve tonight and a few more that I saw but wasn't able to get yet. Here's a favorite of mine so far, I'm off to take some more!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Saturday, June 16th: Goodbye Belgium

Today was our official last day in Brussels and first evening in Amsterdam! I started the day off dreadfully dragging my luggage to the metro. I thought my arms were going to fall off from Paris to Brussels, oh I had no idea!! This time was worst! I don't know if it was because my suitcase was heavier or if it was just more stairs and a farther distance. I was exhausted by the time I reached stay okay, our hostel. I have to say the thally train from Paris was much more comfortable than the one from Brussels. This train made way too many stops and got way too crouded. Although I was dead tired, the excitement of Amsterdam woke me and I was ready to get out and explore the city. Me and some others from the group decided to do just that, it was a fun, late night!

Friday: Last Full Day in Belgium

I woke up feeling great today thanks to that wonderful dinner Dr. V treated us to last night. I'm not sure but I think it was a Turkish restaurant ...whatever it was it was tasty and the Dessert...DELICIOUS! We went to a really cute and fancy pastry spot; I had some strawberry and lemon ice cream that was off the chain!! Thanks Dr. V!!!! Anyways, today is our museum day and of course it's raining. I planned on going to the Mini Europe museum but with that being all outdoors I knew that wasnt going to be to fun. I decided to join Dr.Shanklin and some others who were going thrifting! After that we all split up and I went to the bank museum which was very exciting for me and my love for money!! After that we were kind of tired from all the walking and and didn't feel like rushing to another museum for the last hour before they all close so we just did some souvenir shopping and headed back to the hostel to get some rest for our travel day tomorrow. Goodnight :)

June 19, 2012

It's a wonderful day! No rainy, sunshine is coming. I saw the whole distribution process of flower from the grower to the buyer and went to the Anne Frank House to see the what happened on Jews on World War II.  Then catch my roommate to Madame Tussaud's museum. 
Best day in Amsterdam!!!

Thursday, June 14th

Today was a great day, especially since I got to sleep in! My bed did not want to let me go this morning. I started the day off socializing in the lobby of the hostel where I met a really nice group of people from England who were also here school related. I fell in love with their accent! Some other students in the TnCis program asked me did I want to join them on the hop on hop off tour that I missed yesterday but I was in the middle of a convo with one of the receptionist and found out he was a local. I had been looking for a local to interview all week and really wanted to get this done! He was a really nice guy from Guinee that grew up in Brussels and told me a lot about the Belgium culture and traditions. Today we had Roger Hoogwijs as a guest speaker, and he gave us a lot of valuable information about the shipping industry. I didn't know the freight market was as bad as it is. I also learned about the HUGE vessels, I had no idea they were that enormous! I was great hearing from someone who worked in the industry for many years and learning about the different branches and companies involved in the industry first hand!

Wed. June 13th

Today was a pretty slow day for me. I started the day off attempting to go on the hop on hop off tour but due to my poor sense of direction that was a epic fail. After getting turned around a couple times I decided to just get lost in the city and take myself on my own little tour which was cool because I seen some interesting things and got familiar with the area. I went to class which is becoming more and more exciting to me each day. Today we learned about Marketing Research and the 5 steps to a Marketing Research project. After class I rushed out to a few more retail clothing stores to finalize my comparision for this city.

June 18, 2012

Worked so hard today, finished 2/3 of assignments. I had an interview at a traditional Netherland pancake store which is adjacent to our hostel. It is a family operated restaurant and only 5 months for every year from Easter to the end of September. This restaurant has been operated 18 years and most furniture is more than 100 years old. So that means you sit on an antique chair to eat the traditional local food. The workers in this store are so nice when I said I want to do a marketing research for their restaurant, everybody got together and put their work down even though there were some customers in the restaurant. One guy gave me free cookie and another mid-age lady gave me the traditional drinks. Unlike other store workers, they are initiative to take a picture with me and they keep talking with me try to introduce everything to me. After the interview, I went back to my seat and another young lady give some poffertjes. This is my first time to see so enthusiastic people.
Today has been such a long day! This morning I woke up at 5:30, I really didn't want to wake up. We met at 6 in the lobby to go to the flower shop. We took like a 30 minute bus ride down to the flower shop. I couldn't believe how big the flower shop is, we took like a 2 1/2 hour tour around the building and learned a lot of different interesting facts about what goes on in there. After the flower shop we took a bus ride back to the hostel. We then had a guest speaker at 12, she has to be the most interesting guest speaker we have had all trip. She showed us the different type of films she has worked on. After that a couple of us went out for lunch and we went to shop for more souvenirs, I hope I have enough room to carry all this extra stuff back home. Today has been so busy now I am just ready for bed!

Sunday June 17th: Orientation, Sick Day, and the Interwebs!

A new city means it's time for more bureaucratic drumming of rules, regulations, and expectations that won't be met. I'm just kidding of course and I understand the necessity of holding an orientation. (Especially considering the number of travelers) In reality I was more anxious to check out Amsterdam and anything that delayed that would have been seen as negative.
Unfortunately no matter of willpower was going to get me hitting the streets of Amsterdam because I went to bed sick and woke up feeling worse. In fact, I spent most of the day in bed which makes writing about it a little difficult. Perhaps I should write about my dreams? Well, if they were interesting and I remembered them, that could have been a cool alternative. The good news is that I'm feeling better and I'm hoping to get whatever this is out of my system by tomorrow. Wish me luck!
On a more positive note, (sorry if the last bit sounded like whining) I did manage to get online and do some scouting for travel and tourism related businesses. Hopefully I'll be able to land some interviews in the next few days. Off to bed now though, this week is going to require lots of energy! I'll leave you with a snapshot of a typical street in Amsterdam. It's quite a beautiful place.

Saturday June 16th: Amsterdam First Impressions, Walkabout, and Nightlife

First off, it seems appropriate and honest to admit that Amsterdam will probably be the highlight of this trip because I have been to Paris before, Brussels is a little lackluster, and I have looked forward to it for a very long time. The Netherlands is my twenty-third country to visit but more importantly Amsterdam represents a way of living in which I am a fan. For those keeping track at home I am not talking about Marijuana although it would be lumped into the more broad topic at hand. I am talking about a lifestyle where all are free to be themselves so long as they do so responsibly and one in which everyone seems to be extremely accepting of other peoples choices. Time will tell whether this idea of Amsterdam holds true to reality but so far the impression has been wonderful.
After traveling several hours by train and several more of checking in and out of hostels most people chose to rest but I wanted to hit the ground running, so to speak. My mission: To walk around following only my instincts about the direction and get lost in the city. It's possibly my favorite way to get to know a new place. Amsterdam presents some very unique challenges in navigation naturally, so getting lost in this city should be no problem even for the well initiated. As I ventured back in the direction of 'home' I decided it would be a good idea to squeeze in a nap before trying to take the city on at night. This being Saturday night, it was encouraged by the professor group that we take advantage because the academic panic would soon ensue.

Saturday night in Amsterdam was great! There was a lot going on and lots of people out and about. It was so good in fact that I don't remember what I did and that's all I have to say about that.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Today has been an overall Chill day. Today I slept in and didn't wake up until like after 1. It was so nice just being able to just sleep in after all that walking yesterday. Today was the first day of class in Amsterdam. It's pretty nice having class from 3-5 because that way I can sleep in. After class I just waited till it was 6 & time for dinner. So as you can see today I really didn't do much of anything.

June 17

Our last orientation for our last city was this morning. It kind of makes me sad it’s almost over. It looks like my week is going to be packed to the brim with things to do though, which is a happy change from Brussels. I already went on the free walking tour this city has to offer. My guide’s name was Tom and he was from the United Kingdom, like my Paris guide Daniel was. I actually liked Tom’s tour better though because he asked us questions and made the tour more personal towards today’s world and not the ancient history. We walked all over the city from the national monuments to the red light district and then towards the Jewish and Chinese neighborhoods formally known as Heroin ally. We ended the tour near Anna Frank’s house and got a full recap of her story. I’m kind of jealous my roommates are able to go to that museum tomorrow instead of the flower market like me, but I can always go on Thursday or Friday if I have to go. I also got my last interview tonight when we came back for dinner with another hostel worker, Eva. I am so excited to see what else this great village has to offer.

June 16

The train ride to Amsterdam was much different than the Thally’s train ride. With multiple stops and multiple people sitting next to me I had an interesting trip to say the least. I had the company of an elderly British lady, a young lady studying fashion and a man who listened to his music really loudly. But when we finally did arrive in Amsterdam, my breath was taken away. This city is so beautiful! It also helped that it was the first time in nearly a week where I could see the blue skies in Europe. The main difference between this city and the other two is that almost all of the transportation is above ground. This causes the city to be a lot more crowded than I’m used to. Paris and Brussels both had popular metro systems that were underground and that kept the streets generally easy to navigate by foot. But this city has bikes, trams, cars and pedestrian lanes all crossing over one another. I can tell that I’m going to have fun navigating this.

June 15

Today was the only day with the museum pass for this city so depending on the museum we had to pick and choose where we went. A few of my roommates and I decided to go to the Atomium and mini Europe. But it was raining all morning so going to mini Europe would have been miserable since it’s all outside. While in the great Atomium we learned about its history and how it fits into Brussels culture today as well. After that we traveled back to get some souvenir shopping out of the way and other small tasks. Then I joined Katie and Kristen to the Botanic photo booth museum we took some cute pictures there. I think we are all ready to leave this city, as fun as this week has been.

June 14

In three attempts to go to the hop on hop off tour I was utterly defeated by my own ignorance and failure to take directions properly. And everyone else in my little group was out on a class trip to a different city, so I was by myself most of the day. When we had our guest speaker Roger talking about the shipping ports all over the world. That was interesting to hear first-hand experience instead of reading about how it works. He definitely knew his job inside and out. Also we were treated to dinner by our professor tonight, he took us north to the middle Eastern part of the city. That was much different than the downtown part of Brussels, much less touristy. I had the chicken plate and a tara masuse for dessert. When we came back to the hostel I managed to get an interview with one of the hostel workers, Jeoffrey.

June 13

Today filled with chocolate, starting with a group trip to Planet Chocolate this morning. We learned a lot about how Brussels became the dominate source of chocolate in Europe. And also how it was made, shipped and delivered, before the actual chocolate chefs get their hands on it. Another interesting fact was that in order to work with chocolate professionally in Brussels you must attend a minimum of three years in culinary arts school. The free samples were great and a lot of the students bought gift in their shop. After that a few of us went windows shopping and I found the store I want to use in my comparison, Di. This store had more selection but rude employees. I will write more about that in my report though.
Today was the first full day in Amsterdam. Our day started really early, we had to be in the meeting room at 9am for orientation. All I really wanted to do this morming was just sleep but I didn't get to do that. After orientation we went to the walking tour. It was a nice tour & pretty interesting but it was just so much walking.. After the tour we came back to the hostel for dinner, dinner tonight was pretty good it's better than those sandwiches. Later tonight a couple of us got together and went down to the square to watch the soccer game, holland was playing against Portugal. It was such a great experience sitting outside with locals watching the soccer game. When they scored that first goal everybody went crazy.. Unfortunately holland didn't win but it was still a good experience being able to sit outside and watch the game.

June 17, 2012

We had a nice tour guide today, his name is Tom, a British guy. He studied in Germany and Russia so he could speak German and Russian, a trilingual guy. He is humourous & full of energy and told us a lot Dutch history and stories. Before the tour, I think Holland is same as Netherland, just a country has two different names. Actually, North and South Holland are two of Netherland 12 provinces. Kingdom of Netherland is a geographically low-lying country, with about 25% of its area and 21% of its population located below sea level, and 50% of its land lying less than one meter above sea level. This distinct feature contributes to the country's name: in Dutch (Nederland) its name means "(The) Low Countries" or "Low Country".  At the late 16th century, Dutch people started land reclamation and large polder areas are now preserved through drainage systems with dikes, canals and pumping stations. Much of the Netherlands is formed by the estuary of three important European rivers. 
God created world, but the Dutch created the Netherlands!

Sunday, June 17, 2012

June 16 2012 Amsterdam

I accidentally updated todays blog over yesterday's.

June 17 2012 Amsterdam

Today was the second day in Amsterdam. There wasn't to much activity to report today do to it being Sunday. I misses the walking tour but I will catch it tomorrow. The weathwr was beautiful though I can say that much. There were many people outside at the park. Ansterdam kind of reminds me if San Francisco very free spirited yet with a unique rythm. All in all, today was a day for catch up. Hopefully the rest of the week with a lot of story material.Peace love and happiness. Goodnight.

June 16

Today we had to be in the lobby & ready to go at 9am.. I wasn't ready to get up at all this morning. I went ahead and did laundry and packed everything last might that way I would be ready this morning. Once we all got together we all went down to the metro which took is to the train station. The trains ride from Brussles to Amsterdam seemed to of had been so long. It was only a 3 hour ride but it seemed way longer than that. There were so many stops and so many people. The ride from Paris to Brussles was so much better & faster. When we Finnaly made it to Amsterdam it was just so nice. I just got here & I already love the city. I can't wait to go explore the city this week! I'm ready!! Oh and happy birthday to Dr. V by the way!

Friday June 15th: Atomium, Museum of Breweries, Saying Goodbye

The Atomium is a symbol of Belgium and one of the most unique pieces of architecture in the world. It was built in 1958 for the Worlds Fair, and like the Eiffel Tower, it was never intended as a permanent monument and yet it remains. I learned about it through a geography app on my phone which is fitting to the futuristic nature of the design and am happy to have seen it finally. I was less impressed however than I was hoping to be and wished it was walking distance from town instead of on the outskirts.
I traveled back to the hostel in hopes of finding a museum partner but when I got back from The Atomium, none could be found. Venturing out alone it seemed only logical to make the Museum of Breweries my first destination. Why not learn about the culture and enjoy a free beer included in my academic museum pass. The museum was small but the beer was amazing. I already had an appreciation for the modern brewing process but they also had the tools and a tutorial of the brewing process from 200 years ago. Learning about the history and how the process has changed and stayed the same was really cool.
Tomorrow we are leaving for Amsterdam and I think I speak for the majority when I say that I am really excited and looking forward to the change. As Brussels was a pleasant change of pace from Paris, I think Amsterdam will provide the perfect balance to end with.

Speaking of balance, I thought this photo was fitting to show the balance of old and new in Brussels. As the "Capital of Europe" Brussels has a long and unique history with a hope to renew itself as a modern metropolis and leader in the European Union. With such a prominent history and promising future, the city has a lot to offer, and I am looking forward to coming back and getting to know the city a little better.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

June 16, 2012

This morning we took a train to Amsterdam. Before we left Brussels, Biff show us a photobooth and we took some nice photos which will be a good memory for all of us.  Stephanie gave me a Dramamine for motion sickness relief in the train, which let me feel sleepy for the whole day. And the hostel condition at Amsterdam is better than in Brussels, at least the restroom is not in the lobby. 

June 15, 2012

Today is our last day and also the museum day in Brussels. It's kind of busy because a lot of sceneries are waiting for us. Our first stop is Atomium, the unmistakable symbol of Brussels and Belgium, a unique feat in the history of architecture and symbolic reminder of the World Fair of Brussels (Expo 58). Actually before I came to here I have no idea about it. Latterly, we went to the Mini Europe, which contains over 350 monuments and activities reproduced down to the tiniest detail on a giant scale of 1: 25. When I finished this trip, I realized there are too many spectacular building and architecture all around world. If I want to visit all of them, that will be unrealistic. 
Today is a rich day!

Friday, June 15, 2012

Thursday June 14th: VisitFlanders, International Accounting, and the Global Shipping Industry

Where there's a will there's a way. Today, I managed to squeeze my way into the VisitFlanders office early and land an interview with the marketing manager for domestic markets. I started off asking basic questions about product differentiation and competition and was told they didn't really have any competition because they are a government managed agency. The more I talk to companies in Belgium the more it seems that the government has cornered the marker on travel and tourism. When I asked how they promote the agency I received a similar answer in that everyone in Belgium knows the name and they don't have to worry about that either. So what do you worry about? The answer I received was that they focus most of their efforts now on foreign markets and how to attract more visitors to Belgium. I was under the impression the beer and chocolate did that which leaves little to do when you get to work as a marketer with no competition. I also conducted a short interview by phone and was asked to email further questions rather than making an appointment to come into the office. Hopefully I'll learn something new about the tourism industry in Brussels.
Dr. Shanklin took me to his favorite lunch spot in Brussels today for some fresh seafood. It was really amazing and we had a great conversation about the economic crisis and the current debate about the international accounting standards. He really helped me get focused on my upcoming paper for international accounting. Now it's time to get to work!
We also had a visit from a former shipping industry professional and friend of Dr. Lukosius who gave us the rundown on the industry. It was nice to have an overview of the shipping industry since there is a good chance we may to to Rotterdam next week. The most interesting bits of information were things you wouldn't find in a textbook, like which families control the largest companies, how the Greeks avoid tax cost, and things that shape the industry from within. Having class in this way is much more interesting than staring at power points and listening to lectures.

Wednesday June 13th: Interview, Lead, and catching up on work.

Work, work, work, that's all I do! Well, today that's true anyway. I managed to land an interview, get a strong lead that I'm going to follow up on tomorrow and catch up on some work. I posted a comment on Facebook about how all I do is work and was immediately met with some animosity because I'm sitting in Brussels. Why don't they understand that work is work even when you're sitting in a beautiful cafe in the middle of the Grand Market? Suckers! On a serious note though, I did get a lot done today.
My first interview was with a small company that operates tours within the city limits of Brussels only. I found out that the Belgian government manages most of the tour companies in order to drive tourism dollars and GDP. There are still private companies but the big dogs in the game seem to be managed by the government. Tomorrow I'm going to follow up on a lead I received today for a bigger fish in the travel and tourism industry. Unfortunately every other travel company seems to be just plain old travel agents and who wants to talk to them? Not me!
As always my evening was taken up by reading, some work, and lots of pictures! Besides, a picture is worth a thousand words and I need to sleep well tonight because I have a full day tomorrow!

Tuesday June 12th: EU Parliament, Interview Hunting, and Photo Walk

I didn't have the success I was hoping for today landing interviews. I was able to get some leads though and I'll keep trying until they give me an interview. I was hoping to have a more productive morning before the EU Parliament visit this afternoon but it isn't as easy in Brussels because there are fewer opportunities.
The EU Parliament was very cool! I was pleased to find out that I knew more about Europe than I originally gave myself credit and was happy to learn more about the political and economic decision making. The EU is one complicated mess when it comes to the political and economic situations. I think most people forget that our economic and political systems are really just elaborate experiments and we don't have it all figured out yet. This is especially true for Europe and the EU.
After the EU visit I set out to explore Brussels from behind the lens. Photography is a new hobby of mine and I'm finding I really enjoy putting my headphones on and heading out to get lost in a city taking pictures. Just like economics... I have a lot to learn in about photography and I fear it will be quite a few years before I start producing noteworthy work. Nonetheless, I was pretty happy with this one from this evening.

Last day in Brussles! The thing I am going to miss the most is the hostel, I hope the one in Amsterdam is as nice as the one here! Today I woke up ready to go explore the museums but when I looked outside it was raining. I mean I should be surprised since the weather here is crazy! We all got ready & went out. Today was the first time for all of us getting on the metro. It was a bit confusing. The metro in Paris was so much more easier. We went out trying to find the aquarium but we had no like finding it ( we even asked people & nobody knew where it was) since we couldn't find the aquarium we went on & went to other museums. We went to am art museum & a music museum. Along the way we had some great Belgian waffles.. We then headed back to the hostel. I'm getting laundry done & then I'm going to pack to have everything ready for Amsterdam in the morning.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

June 14, 2012

 Finally the sun comes back. We had a trip to "the Venice of the North"--Bruges, which is a pretty medieval city. It is the capital and largest city of the province  of West Flanders in the Flemish Region of Belgium. We took a 30 minutes boat ride after the lunch we saw the different size bridges; Brugge in Dutch means "bridge", maybe that's why the city name is Brugge. Besides the stone bridges, bunch of medieval buildings set on the two side of the river, as if a generation had passedThe captain gave us some interesting explanation and tried to introduce his son to the girl in our group (that's just his joke.); he is really humor
As a well-spent day brings happy sleep, so a life well used brings happy death.
                                                                                                             --Leonardo da Vinci

Today I woke up feeling worse than I did yesterday.. I really did not feel like getting up at all. Last night one of my classmates gave me some medicine to take, and it doesn't seem to be helping till just now.. One thing I am really happy of is the friends I am making here. At first I didn't think it would be so easy to make friends but it has actually been really easy. Some of the people here are really nice. Today even one of my roommates got my lunch for me since I wasn't feeling well. While laying up in my room today I was thinking to myself do I really wanna waste my day in Brussles by just laying here? So I decided to get up and go on a solo date. I went on the hop on/off tour, it was really nice getting to see the city. It felt good just getting out. After the tour I then rushed back to the hostel because we had a guest speaker today.. Later this evening Dr. V took us out for dinner, it was a nice dinner but the best part was going out for dessert. I had this chocolate cake thing that was really good & it was wrapped in like a layer of dark chocolate AMAZING!! thanks for dinner Dr. V!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

june 13 2012 Belgium

Today was the fourth day in Belgium and so far im still enjoying the relitively laid back atmosphere of the city. My day started off with a pre scheduled 10:30 am appointment with the store manager of a local retail store Calzedonia.  Upon my arrival at the store I was actually happily gretted by two interviewees. I recieved a lot of good information from them and found out that they actually originated in Italy.  The General manager had jsut flew in from the headquarters in Italy this morning to open a new store in Brussels.  Following this I had just enough time to make it back to the hostel in time to go to the chocolate factory. The chocolate factory was actually much more of an educational experience than I expected. The sample of hot chocolate was amazing and the demostrator was very informative and hospitable (This was an obvious difference from the French). After the chocolate factory I made my way back into the city to get some more interviews.  I was able to get one actual interview and schedule a few appointments. Before I left the central area I stopped at quick then made my way back to the hostel to catch up on some work.

June 12

This morning was a great trip to the European Parliamentium. We got the chance to learn about how the European Union Parliament functions. And after that we got a chance to visit the room with all of the seats of the officials and it was really overwhelming how many languages and types of cultures there are over here in Europe. The night was filled with celebration for my room mates birthday! We went to the Novo Cafe for dinner and had a great time together. I have to get some interviews while we are here and I think I know who to ask. Overall a great day and I am really starting to enjoy this city.

June 11

This day was pretty cool, since yesterday was a recovery day. Orientation and class were good and helpful in remembering that we are actual students and not backpackers on vacations. I did stop by the mall trying to do some retail research. I found a small store in there but I think I will hold off for a full store before I use that for my comparison. Anyways my class went to the American embassy to hear about Brussels commerce. The presenter was more more business orientated and therefore was slightly more interesting than the one in France. Later that night the hostel, which I love, threw a free concert and served some great noodles for dinner. This hostel is youth focused and there are more than one schools here staying as well. So I met some nice German students to hang out with after the concert was over. Socializing with strangers is much easier here than it was in Paris.

June 10

This morning we left for Brussels on the Thallys train ride, which didn't take as long as I thought it would. I got my second Paris interview from Ceclia before we departed for the train. It was hard to say goodbye to new friends. When we arrived in Brussels the first notable difference was the hostel is much more spacious and friendly. Also the WiFi is way easier to access. Once we were situated in our room we were given a picture scavenger hunt to complete. The city is way more complicated to navigate in after it gets dark. Luckily we found our way back and I called it an early night.
Today I woke up feeling a little under the weather.. I think it's because of how different the weather here is.. One day it's warm & sunny & another day it's cool & rainy.. Today we went to this little chocolate factory where we had someone talk to is about the process of making chocolate. They were even calling on volunteers, it was a pretty interesting demonstration. After the chocolate shop me and a few people went to walk around and explore we also went ahead and had some lunch/dinner it was pretty good. I then had to hurry back to the hostel because we had class at 4 and I sure didn't want to be late. Today's class was pretty interesting we talked about researching and a few other things. I really hope to get to feeling better soon!

Tuesday, June 12th

Today the entire group went to the EU Parliament. When I heard this was like the Washington D.C of Europe I was very excited! At the Parliament Crissy was our speaker, and she covered a lot of information about the European Union. She talked about the 27 countries of Europe, candidate countries, and Accession countries. She talked about the 8 political groups and the 23 languages. She covered a bunch of stuff and then took us into the huge room where they have guest speakers and debates. After the parliament the group kind of split up and we all went our separate ways. Me, Britney, and Salina found our way to the mall where I got to look at some more retail clothing stores such as H&M and promod. I made some comparisions and did some personal shopping also.

1st full day in Brussels

Today is our first day in Brussels and I'm loving this hostel! Compared to the hostel in Paris I'm living in luxury!! lol This hostel is much more spacious, there are alot of foreign students who stay here, there is a bar here that stays open late, everyone speaks English, which makes it a great place to network and socialize. Jacques Brel is a great hostel! Today was a full day; I had orientation, went to the Embassy, and had class. I really enjoyed the embassy here! I appreciated the one here a little more vs the one in Paris because it focused more on the business students. At the Embassy we spoke with Anna and Danni who work in the department of Commerce. Anna is a foreign service officer who focuses on federal service and export service. She talked about Belgium, which is the Headquarters of the EU. She explained why a lot of people here speak English, and it's because Belgium is a small country and the people that live here cant afford to speak only one language like France. Mostly everyone that lives here know how to speak multiple languages and they have to in order to do business with different people. She also gave me some key information about starting a business overseas and investing overseas. After the Embassy I went to class and learned about STP which was interesting to me. After class I hung out in the hostel for a while.

Goodbye Paris!

Today is checkout day and I'm dragging because I didn't get any sleep! Like none! I'm glad I prepared for this the night before. Before we went to the club, I packed all my clothes and separated all my dirty clothes. So when I got in at 7AM, I got dressed really quick, grabbed my dirty clothes and walked down the street to the laundry mat. While my clothes was washing, I went back to the hostel to have breakfast. After breakfast, I go back to my room to find out my OLDer roommates (who has been failing to piss me off all week) poured juice all over my bed and on another roommate's stuff. If I wasn't so tired from partying all night and getting absolutely NO sleep, they would have succeeded this time! I was sooo tired that I really didn't give a who; plus the fact that we were about to check out and I was never going to sleep in that bed again added to my nonchalant attitude. Anyways I finished my laundry and we all headed out for our train to Brussels, which was not a good experience. We carried our luggage up a million steps, I thought my arms were going to break!! I was glad to finally get on the Thally train (which got us there way to quick) and take a nap!

Last full day in Paris

Saturday was our last full day in Paris! :( I started the day off on the metro heading downtown to see Notre Dame.  I got off on the St.Michael's exit, not only because it was closest, but because I had to see the beautiful art work of the fountain again. On my way to Notre Dame I stopped and got some delicious ice cream that I ate while I was in line. I was glad I waited in that long line because Notre Dame was something I didn't want to miss. The place is so ancient and the art work so detailed and perfect; it was really a nice, peaceful vibe in there. Outside of Notre Dame I got a chance to feed the birds! It was so exciting! I would hold a piece of bread that I bought for 1€ and the little birds would just fly up to my hand and eat it; some would stand on my hand and fingers and eat. It was so cool!lol After that I headed to the Louvre, which is a must see! Oh my goodness it is sooo much in there I don't even know where to begin hahah you just have to see it for yourself. I wish I would have went there before Notre Dame because I needed sooooo much more time in there! After the Louvre everyone was tired so we got something to eat and headed back to the hostel. We were about to just go to bed but then we thought...Last Day In Paris!!! So we ended up getting dressed and going out to this club. It was a fun last night!!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Monday June 11th: Brussels, U.S. Commercial Counselor and Hostel Concert Party!

Our first day in Brussels has brought a reality for most students that we are here to study and not to vacation. I've heard a lot of talk today about how Brussels will be the time to catch up on work and get prepared for the end of the trip and exams. I am personally needing to be more aggressive with my paper.
We met with another U.S. Commercial Counselor today to hear information about the United States Department of Commerce work in Brussels. It's interesting to see how the embassy work can differ so much from one department to another and also nice to know about other avenues for work. Essentially, the Department of Commerce acts as a export promotion agency and tries to provide direct assistance to U.S. companies looking to export items to Europe. I still feel that the tradition FSO job track is more suited for me and would rather be an economic advisor than work in commercial service.
Back at the hostel everyone was working hard and laptops were out everywhere. As the night progressed however people began to relax and settle in to our new home. The group has seemed to get along really well and we hung out and enjoyed some Belgian beers together. Tomorrow I'm hoping to land an interview before leaving for the EU Parliament.

June 12 2012-Belgium

Today was the third day in Belgium. Got a late start after a late night of excitement. I woke up with to minimal but appreciated internet access in my room. I attempted to catch up on a few things. Following this I got ready for our 2:00 meeting to attend the European Parliment. We took around a 25 minute walk to the Union building across meters of bumping coble stone. Upon our arrival we made our way in the builing through a relatively heavy crowd. We were directed to a small lecture room where we were enlightened with information about the European Union. The lecture was informative but admittedly a bit draining. Following this event I made my way to the local mall City 2 to try and get a few interviews from the some retail stores.  I was suprisingly able to get on the metro for free,  Unlike unlike anywhere I have ever experienced.  The metro let me right into the mall. I had some difficutly getting interviews before the mall closed nowever I was a ble to squeeze in an appointment. After the mall close me and a few Tncis friends ate at a delicious grill across the street (almost felt at home). After this I made my way back to the hostel to wind down the evening. Day three in Belgium.
Today seemed to of been a long day.. We walked down to the parlimemt which seemed to of had been like a 30 minute walk (Dr. V always says everything is like 5 minutes away when really it is like more than 30 minutes) the parlimemt was pretty interesting learned quite a bit of new things. We also got to go in to where all the people from the union meet it was such a nice place. Something else I found quite interesting is how they have to translate everything in 23 languages. After the parlimemt me & a couple of friends went down to grab something to eat.. The walk was About to kill me, not because of the walking but because of the walking in my dress shoes. We were going to see the pissing boy but instead I came back to the hostel to take my dress shoes off!!

June 11

Today was the first full day in Brussels. Brussels is way different than Paris, it's alright here although I do miss Paris already. It is much quieter here & with less people. So far I really haven't been out as much as I have been in Paris. One thing I love about being in Brussels is how mice the hostel is, there is so much more space. Another thing is how there is much more food for breakfast & the lunch is pretty good. Today we went to the embassy, & spoke with a foreign officer about business. The things they do are pretty interesting especially how it related to breakfast. After the walk down to the embassy we came back to the hostel, then we had class from 4-6 that means I will get to sleep in a bit more here. After class we had such a great spaghetti dinner, probably the best dinner I have had in Europe. Later that night there was a concert, not really my type of misic but it was okay! I hope to go out a bit more during the week although I am having a great time just staying in the hostel & meeting new people.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Sunday June 10th: Leaving Paris, Bullet Train and welcome to Brussels!

Leaving a country is always bittersweet because I'm excited to visit a new place but sad to leave Paris. Early in the morning I collected keys from the others. As we boarded the train to Brussels I decided to use the time to relax and watch a movie. When we hit the ground in Brussels I ended up participating in a rescue mission because one the students lost their bag on the train. Luckily we were successful and she managed to get her bag back completely intact. The new hostel is amazing. It's the largest hostel I've ever stayed in and there have been many. The staff is really accommodating and the facilities are great, supplying everything we need. Brussels is a slower and more relaxed city and I'm hoping to use that personality to my advantage and catch up on some work. I don't feel the same pressure I did in Paris, which has a hustle and bustle personality. For my first night in Brussels I did little more than get my logistical arrangements handled and settle in to the hostel. I'm looking forward to spending time with the people in our group and really getting to know them a lot better. As Belgium is famous for beer and it seems to help with the social situations, my first night here was spent hanging with the group over a few pints of delicious Belgian beer. Tomorrow will be chocolate, waffles, fries and more beer! For now though it's off to bed.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

June 9

So today is the the last day in Paris and although I don¨t want to leave I am excited to move on to the rest of Europe too.Today was nice because I caught up on laundry and getting packed for Sunday. Though that didn't last for too long because I went out to St. Denis with some of the guys to get a haircut. That turned out to be more of a culture shot than eating snails, because staying over here you forget petty shop disputes and little kids running around acting up. Also it wasn't as expensive as the rest of Paris had been so on this trip. We have other things to do, such as go to the Arts Bridge again for a personal reason. There are hundreds of locks on this bridge that lovers and friends write their names on and then throw the key in the river behind then sealing their bond forever in Paris. Which is exactly what I did. That was one of the simple pleasures I had to partake in when I found out I would be studying abroad. So after that I met up with some others and we decided to go out to eat one last time in the "City of Lights". We ended up going back out to St. Michel and eating in one of the side restaurants. One of my room mates had a friend Cecilia, visiting from northern France and she helped us order quicker and work out the check faster. In fact she was so helpful and familiar with both cultures I decided she would be my final French interview., which will be tomorrow morning before we leave. After dinner we all hung outside soaking up the fresh Paris night air and taking it in was bitter sweet. I know there is going to be so much excitement to come but this first city was so wonderful. I cant wait to go on the train in the morning for the first time.

Saturday June 9th: Catacombs, Musee d'Orsay and the last night in Montmarte

Apparently the human body requires sleep, who knew? I finally slept and therefore didn't crawl out of bed until around 10:30, which meant I missed my chance to go back to the Louvre. So I started my day as any good day should start... with death and bones! The Catacombs were very cool but very creepy, holding the remains of over 6 million people! It was a very ominous place and I carried the smell of death on my clothes the whole rest of the day. Thankfully the awesomeness of Van Gogh made me forget all about it. I was so thankful to walk through Musee d'Orsay, it was by far the best art experience in Paris. I appreciate the works of Picasso, Cezanne, Renoir, Monet, Degas but Van Gogh really made me happy. I wish there was a more elegant way to express that feeling but it's easiest to just say that it made me happy. I loved the color the thick brush strokes and the style. I never labeled myself as a post-impressionism fan before but I felt truly inspired by Van Gogh's work and think my tattoo temptations from yesterday may come to fruition as a Van Gogh piece!

After Van Gogh changed my art experience in Paris I headed back to Montmarte to spend the last night in Paris in the neighborhood in which we were staying. Everyone from the group was already gone for the evening so I ventured out alone. I ended up meeting some Canadian guys who had just arrived and sharing a few pints with them. At first they seemed a bit uptight but once I found out they were investment bankers and bond traders I knew that could be true. *laugh. We had a good time making small talk about the most relevant economic issues and the politics of our particular countries until a couple of French girls caught their eyes and the focus shifted. I was handed a business card and told to send my resume by the older of the two guys, which normally I would find odd but it was the third job offer I've received since landing in Europe a week ago. Having been to Paris before but not Brussels or Amsterdam, I am looking forward to exploring a new city! Although, my last night in Paris proved to be pretty fun and I'm a little sad to be leaving so soon. Anyway, on to the next adventure!

Friday June 8th: Louvre, Petit Palais, Grand Palais, Les Invalides and Invader!

The early worm gets the bird.. or something like that. I was up early and managed to make it to the Louvre at 9am. My mission: Mona Lisa, Winged Victory of Samothrace, Venus de Milo, Egyptian Antiquities. It was a very successful day and getting there before the crowds became overwhelming was critical. Myself and two other students spent about 4 hours in the Louvre before we became exhausted. They went back to our hostel to rest and I continued on to the Petit Palais and the Grand Palais which I didn't get to see the last time I was in Paris. The Petit Palais was good, but not great. Perhaps I'm not the most appreciative museum patron and don't have the best understanding of the art world. Simply stated, I like what I like and I didn't love it. I was excited to see the inside of the Grand Palais because the entire roof is one big glass dome. It was very cool and the space was humongous. The right exhibition or concert would make it one of the coolest places in Paris to me. I saw Napoleon's tomb and military museum next which was also very interesting.

Silly as it sounds nothing was as exciting to me as finding Invaders work posted up all over buildings and street corners of Paris. I really like street art and was happy to come across several cool pieces while in Paris. Of all the art work that I've seen so far... the simple street art has been my favorite. Tomorrow I'll hopefully be back in the Louvre and Musee de Orsay which should provide some new favorite works of art! Unless of course I find an amazing tattoo artist in Paris and decide to spend my day getting some art work of my own to take home. Haha. Well... maybe?

June 10, 2012

Finally, we have a bigger room, but our bathroom and restroom on the corridor which is really inconvenient.  And I miss my roommates Stephanie and Brandy. I thought we could have a rest for today, but we had a game this afternoon called Camera Hunt: Getting to know Brussels. At the beginning, I was tired and have no interest for this game, but later on when we found our first stop St. Michael then I love this game. Me and Yang have a lot of fun from this game. During this process, I saw a lot of pretty and magnificent architectures. The Grand Place is my favorite one and there are lot of fancy stores and cheap resturants in the downtown area. And I got the waffle  at the Manneken Pis that was taste so good.  

I love Brussels !!!

June 9, 2012

I have stayed in Paris for almost one weeks and today is the best for me. I'm shocked of Louis VIX's bed, as big as our hostel room, which is so big, pretty and luxury. From this trip, I found not only the Chinese emperor built secrete room or passage in their rooms, also French monarch constructed secret passage, like Marie Antoinette has one in her room which is help her to escape from the palace when the French Revolution broke out. The Versailles Garden is the best and amazing place for me, I never saw a place so pretty like this. This garden bring my favourite movie to my mind--Pride and Prejudice, which adapted Jane Austen's movie. In the great estate of Pemberley, there is a lake in front of the manor. When I'm in the Versailles Garden, I feel I'm in that movie. I really love the Versallies and hope one day I can have a house like that. (I know it's a daydream.Haha)
The secret passage is behind the Jewelry cabinet.

We are now in Brussels. First thing I noticed when we got to the metro is how much less busy it is here.. Unlike Paris there are way less people out. Carrying that luggage was such a hassle, I should have listened to what they told me & just pack light, next time I know now.. When we finally arrived to the hostel we split out into groups, we got stuck in a group of 8 but it actually wasn't quite as bad because I think we have the best room, we have so much room in here and it's way nice and bigger than in Paris..We then had that camera race to do, of course I knew we wouldn't win because that was a lot of walking.. I love it in here I can get wifi from my room.mao far I think I am going to love it here, well atleast the room.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Last day in Paris

Today was the last day in Paris :( this morning some of my friends went out to another city but I didn't go with them cuz I didn't want to wake up. When I finally did wake up I went up to the lobby & I didn't find anybody so I decided to go out on an adventure on my self. I went looking for the Centre Pompidou & on my way there I kinda got lost but I asked someone for directions & they told me I was going the right way. I really had a great time at this museum, it had more modern paintings and drawings. I got to see some of Picasso's paintings. They were really nice. After the museum I went to the Notre Dame, I went inside and it was just so nice. I spent the rest of the day shopping for souvenirs since it is the last day in paris. I am really going to miss it here it was such a great city to visit.

Friday June 8th

We didn't have class today! I was so happy for that. Today I went back to the louvre with the english class, I had already went the first day so it wasn't as exciting. After there we went to the Arc. It was such a nice sight & mice place to visit except for walking up all those stairs!! I thought I was going to die on my way up there. Today was the first day for the Paris pass, but I didn't really go to a lot of places cuz I had already been. That was it for today nothing else..

June 8 Friday

Today was jammed packed with activites. A trip to the Louvre to get a picture of Venus de Milo. And then we went to the Arc de Triumphè with a few people from the world literature class. We had to walk to underneath the road with eight lanes of traffic roaring above us. Which was so cool to experince. But we climbed all the way up the arch and got a wonderful view of the city. We went back to H&M for some extras that I forgot yesterday and I think I'm falling in love with that store. Speaking of stores I got another experince planned tomorrow with a store called Lush. But we also went to the mordern art museum and searched for DeAndre's favorite artist. But unfortuantely they only had one painting of Dali so we headed back to the hostel. We went out with the film class and ate at Filafle, which served traditional Jewish food. I tried some sherwarma and didn't really like the sandwich version but I think I would have liked it on a plate. The trip to the pastry shop afterwards was great, I got a type of cheesecake with coffee topping. After that I headed back to the hostel and had to write down my day, since it was so packed. I want to relax tomorrow and pack before we leave so I won't be too stressed on Sunday morning. Paris has been great and unexpectingly beautiful. But I'm excited to get out of the hostel and into a bigger one, hopefuly with a nicer staff.

Friday, June 8, 2012

June 8, 2012

After finishing all the interviews, I feel so good because I can go anywhere without worry about the assignment. At 10 o'clock, everybody get together in the lobby, we will to visit the world famous and the biggest museum --The Louvre. I'm so excited, however, when I came into the museum something happened. There is an elevator stopped working, so me and my friend had to walk through the elevator. When we went upstair, I kick the guy behind me incautiously,at the same time, somebody yielded to this side then I turn around found that guy gave my wallet back. I'm so confused and scared. The I realize he try to steal my money but I didn't perceive that. Fortunately, the staff catch that spot. Behind that guy, there are two pretty girls and I think they are the group, because of the staff catching them. The staff only talk to them, but did not send them to the police station or let them any punishment. I don't know why. When people do the wrong thing, they should be get punishment. But why just let them go. Before this happened, one of professor almost lose his wallet and the theft was a woman. Lately, when my another roommate come back, she said one of our classmates almost lose his wallet too. But nobody send him to the police station. I think why there are so many thieves just because they did not get any punishment when they do the wrong thing. Then they will keep doing theft and others also find that is easy to get money, more and more people will do theft. In my opinion, no matter in which kind of city should not be like this, not mentioned a historical and pretty city, everyone freaks out the thieves and homeless. How could it let people love this city? 

June 7, 2012

This morning, I had a interview with Lao Yang who is the owner of a Chinese restaurant very closed to our hostel. He told me he has managed this restaurant for 27 years since 1985, at that time, there is no restaurant around this area except his. Most of his customers are the workers and artists from the film studio, sometimes some of them would wear the costumes when they have a dinner. At that period, he had a really good business, but later on, a lot of restaurants has been appeared in this area which caused a fierce competition, meanwhile, the film studio also got closed which became a motion university. His customers became to the students and neighborhoods, the profit is just enough for their living cost. As getting old, he and his wife decide to retire and sell their restaurants to others, then take care of their grandson to have a harmony family life.
At the afternoon, I went to the Hotel de Invalidate, which is built in 16th century for the disabled and old veterans living now it became to the Army museum. When I came in, I saw several veterans taking pictures with each other and one of them come to ask me "Do you want me take a picture for you?". I said" I would like take a picture with you.". He was glad to accept my request, when we take a picture he said I'm General Napoleon Bonaparte, you know?" He is so humor and nice and even doesn't like a general. In the museum, there is exhibition about Present Charles de Gaulle. Before this trip, I don't have to much acknowledgment about him, but after this trip I realize that he is a great man. If without him, then France will not be prosperous like today.

Thursday June 7th: Nomade Aventure, Go Econ and photo tour!

Today was a very productive day! I managed to get up early, which is a feat all in it is elf because of the late nights, interview another company and take an awesome photo walk. The company I interviewed was called Nomade Aventure and they specialize in adventure travel. It was a great interview and I was able to get a lot of research for my paper. Enough about work though... I had a successful day of taking pictures with Natalie (#natslens) and can't wait to explore more neighborhoods in Paris. Being my second visit to Paris I really feel like I've gotten to know the city even better and I'm confident that I'll see everything I'm really interested in before departing on Sunday. The weather had been a little bit more cooperative and tomorrow I'm free from interviews and hope to visit several museums depending on how much energy I have left. The French seemed to be happy about the improved weather as well and were out in droves enjoying the afternoon. I spent about an hour just hanging out in the Jardin des Tuileries and near the Pyramide du Louvre.

Friday, June 9th

Cheers to the freaking weekend! Today was our first free day and I slept in! I planned to go visit a couple museums, but by the time I got dressed and ate lunch I decided not to go to far because I had a dinner date with my class. We got on the metro and went to "Jew town" and had some really good Jewish food! It was different, but good. After that we went to this nice pastry shop where I had the best strawberry pie in the world!! It probably was even better because I didn't have to pay for it lol. After that delicious dessert we all kind of ventured off and roamed the streets of Paris for a while. Now I'm back at the hostel getting ready to get dressed; The ladies and I are going clubbing tonight. Toddles :)

June 7th

Thursday, June 7th was a pretty chill day. I started the day off by meeting the guest speaker, Tomas, who is from Euro Monitor and studied economics at the University of Chicago. It was very interesting to hear the path he took to become the successful man he is today. The subject matter was particularly interesting to me because it focused on econ and finance and I'm a accounting and finance major. Tomas was down to earth and conversation was pretty open which was cool.After that, me and some other peers from the group hung out by the carousel and ended up walking to Sacre Cquer to see the sun set. Oh and I got some fresh strawberries and a mango squeezed into juice. Omg it was great!

June 7 2012

Here is my recap of yesterday in Paris.  The day started with an informative visit from a guest speaker Thomas. Following this I made my way back into the cit to get my final interview with  a local retialer. I met a friendly boutique owner who was more than willing to speak wit me. On the way back to the hostel I stopped at a market and got some fresh squeezed fruit juice and a dessert from a pastry shop next door. Later I walked around the city streets with a few other program members and got some vietnamese food. The night ended beautifully on the hill in front of Sacre Cquer.  

June 7 Thursday

Today was very full of activities. With the Guest speaker, Tomas from Euro Monitor we learned of his real life experince of putting class room theory to practise. Although he works in the field of statistical data and formulas where my studies are leading me towards a more sale oreintated path. I took note of his detremination and it was nice to know that a business path has real jobs and not just the ones you hear from hearsay. After that I went with a group to the cementary where many famous people are buried. Then as a smaller group we broke off and went shopping!!! This brought my mood up significantly. I shopped one of the H&M stores and then we had dinner. After we came back to the hostel I got two other ladies together and we went to get ice cream; where we got lost to and from the shop on my faulty sense of direction. Luckly we were helped by a number of Parisians who spoke English. One of which I squeezed in a snall interview. Tonorrow I shall go museum hopping and get a full taste of French culture over the next two days.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Today I was able to sleep in since we didn't have class this morning. But I really didn't get much sleep cuz one of my roommates snoring was so loud. Today we had a guest speaker instead of class. He was pretty interesting. He was talking to us about what he does. After the guest speaker I really didn't go out because it was pouring down raining, but later the sun came down & me and a couple of people went out for dinner and just walked around. We also went into this big church, I know the name but I don't know how to spell it. We went inside the church and sat in mass for a few minutes. It was a really nice church, I wish they had service in english so that I could have understood. Also today I went to do some laundry & I finally did my interview with a Parisian, it was a quite interesting conversation that went on for like 45 minutes. I learned a lot about him & I'm glad he was very nice.

Wednesday June 6: First Interview; Embassy visit and great conversation

This morning I had a scheduled interview with the guide manager for New Paris Walking Tours, Dario Valasagna. Dario brought me up to speed on the tour guiding industry in Paris and how they market to potential clients. The New Paris Walking Tour is the first company in Paris to offer a free tour and it seems to be paying off. The company guides over 125 people per day on average. It was invaluable to speak to a local about the industry and he put me in touch with other contacts that could prove to be just as valuable for both my academic research and personal curiousity. The afternoon was taken up by a visit to the U.S. Embassy which was great. We met with a Foreign Service Officer who walked us through the embassy operations and the details of foreign service positions. It was bittersweet for me because I actually missed the Foreign Service Exam this year because of our departure date for Paris. As my evening rolled on however, I met a new friend from Canada who made for great conversation and the time flew. Travel has a funny way of delivering unexpected but great experiences.

Wednesday, June 6th

Today we are halfway through our week and I have been having a ball! Although everyday has been fun, today has been the most fun for me. As a group we all went to the U.S. Embassy. I learned about the Marshall plan and some laws that are in the process of being passed in Europe! The speaker was a diplomat, I think her job title was a International Relations Officer..I think, but she was very informative. She gave out a lot of information about her journey to get where she is today, the pros and cons of working internationally, and the different branches of the Embassy. It was really interesting and convincing for me to consider. I ended the night on top of the Eiffel Tower looking over the city!

Tuesday June 5th

This is our 3rd day and Paris. After class me and Brittany decided to catch the metro to the mall. On our trip to the mall I noticed french people are a little rude. I had several people bump into me an keep going without saying anything or even looking twice. They also stare. A lot of people were staring at us and kept staring even when we were looking back. When we would ask for directions people would keep walking and I'm thinking, are Americans this rude to tourist? lol But everyone wasn't this rude, some people gave us directions and tried to help. At the mall I went to different retails stores like Zara, Mango, and the Levis store and was able to make comparisons so that was good. I also did some personal shopping and then we headed back to the hostel. I devoted the rest of my evening and night to catch up on some much needed sleep.
June 6th Wednesday
Today we visited the US Embassy and learned about foreign policy from our US diplomat Angela. She was telling us how over in France that gay marriage isn't a big issue here. And I think she added it will likely be passed into law making it legal over here. In America that's a big issue and some politicians don't like the fact a big world power is accepting when they aren't in agreement in US congress yet. On the other hand the French aren't happy at all that their US allies use the death penalty in over 30 of the states. Which is understood in America that it is a state-by-state issue and isn't the main topic in American politics. So when thinking about this from a business side, its important to keep in mind that we are on a global economy and trade and trends can affect indirectly or directly depending on what you are selling. Overall I was pleased with the tour of the embassy and it gave me a lot to think about and consider when I start getting my own business started.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

June 4th

Monday, June 4th was my first full day in Paris! This is when I really got the feel of Paris. A handful of fellow students and I met at the St. Michaels fountain downtown (which was extremely beautiful to me) and went on a three hour walking tour. Yes three HOURS, glad I had my walking shoes on! It soooo much to see that it went by quickly. We seen Notre Dame, the Louvre, the Eiffel Tower, and many other awesome places. I loved our tour guide, Jacquline, she was so knowledgeable and had a great sense of humor. After the tour I ate and headed back to the hostel. Me and few friends hung out a little around the hostel and I called it a night.

June 6 Paris

Day four in Paris. Every day has been an adventure but today was one of the best because I finally saw the effile tower at night. However this was the finale. I actually got up in time for breakfast. I made my way back into the city to get more interviews. People werent as friendly as before but I managed to get one friendly interview. Following this I made my way to the lovely Louis Vuitton. Next was the American Embassy where I received  a lot of valuable information. After the embassy I walked down town and finished the night on the effile tower.

June 6

Although I didn't have any visit tour today, but I feel better than any other days.Because I got interviews from two different stores--Chocolat Michel Cluizel and    Pizza Pino. The ladies in the Michel Cluizel chocolate store are so enthusiastic.
Even though they are not good at speaking English, they are still full of patience to help me finish my research questions. They give me the brochure which
introducing the brand story. And in Pizza Pino, the manager is so humor he said his English is only for 5 minutes. Some people said French people are kind of proud,
 but for me,  in some degrees they are so cute and nice.

June 5

After two interviews with Korean and Japanese restaurant,I feel so good. So I got 
boat trip on the Seine with my roommate. Everything is wonderful except for the rainy & cold weather and some noise boys on the boat. I don't know where are they from; I just want to push them into the river(I'm a mean girl. Ha-Ha). At 10 o'clock, Isaw the sparkling Eiffel Tower,that is so pretty and everybody jubilant. 

U.S Embassy

Today I didn't really do much.. I haven't gotten up for breakfast since the first morning. Now I just sleep unitll it's time for class. Today in class we just went over consumer behavior a pretty interesting subject. I really enjoyed going over that subject, if only I had slept a little more I would have been able to focus more. After class we went down to the U.S Embassy & it was better than I expected. the foreigh diplomatic officer was really interesting, and kinda made me become a diplomat, I just don't know if I will be able to take all those tests. After the embassy me and some classmates were going to go to Notre Dame but when we were going on the subway I lost them so I just decided to head back to the hostel. Overall today was a pretty laid back day..

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Tuesday June 5th: Catching up on some much needed sleep and playing tour guide for some new friends

Unfortunately I don't have a lot to say today because I finally slept... most of the day actually. It wasn't intentional but I needed the rest pretty desperately. It was nice to lay in bed and read a little bit and write in my journal. After a long lazy day I headed upstairs to the hotel lobby and found a few people from our group who were looking for a guide. The four of us set off for the Eiffel Tower and a few of the neighboring sights. I think the best way to see the Eiffel Tower for the first time is by the Trocadero metro. When you climb up the stairs out of the metro you're standing behind the Cité de l'architecture et du patrimonies and as soon as you round the corner you see the entire tower right in front of you, it's an amazing sight to take in all at one time. It's been rainy and a little cold so I'm hoping for some clear nights to get better pictures. It's amazing to think the French didn't want to keep the Eiffel Tower after the Worlds Fair in 1889. Today it stands as one of the most recognizable sights in the world and it is the quintessential sight of the city of Paris.

June 5
Finally went on the free walking tour, and I was so glad I did! My tour guide's name was Daniel and he was from the United Kingdom. He was studying in Paris now for 4 years and know the city like a student should. He pointed out a lot that I had seen the past two days but he put meaning behind them and I felt closer to the city for it. I expected to walk the entire three hours without a break, but fortunately we stopped at the local Starbucks for a fifteen minute break. Which is were I had a lovely conversation and met a fellow traveler from Canada, named Stephanie. She and I clicked instantly and were talking the rest of the tour. At the end she had lunch with me and the small group of classmates. Which is where I actually tried snails, or escargo, and for me it had the texture of crab and the taste of spicy chicken. So it was delicious to me. Actually all of the food here has been a treat; from a simple pastry to a three course meal. I am turning into a foodie I'm afraid! So that was my day and I hope that tomorrow will be full of surprises and meet tons of new people.
Day Two June 4
Free breakfast was the best I've ever had in any hotel setting!Today we got our Metro pass will will let us travel for free for the rest of Paris. As for the three hour walking tour I missed it today. But I did find my way around Paris better than I did yesterday. Also it wasn't a good day for exchanging the American dollars to Euros, because the banks weren't open today. I'm finding that Europe is very relaxed when it comes to office hours. It's not a problem though because tomorrow we will succeed on making the tour. But I decided to tag along with the world literature class for a trip to the Eiffel Tower which was great. I took plenty of pictures though unfortunately it was too cold for my outfit and I didn't want to walk or climb it so I walked around the area, while the rest of the class went up. There were a lot of great foods and cheap vendors that were around the landmark. All in all a great day and a long night!

Monday June 4th: First day of class, Paris walking tour and a beautiful sunset.

After no sleep on the trip over it was nice to get some sleep last night and attack the day. The morning orientation covered all the important elements and it was refreshing that we have so much time to ourselves. After class, I headed immediately to the city centre to try and take in some sights before the 1pm walking tour. I felt very comfortable navigating the city and helped a group of students find their way to the walking tour. Our tour guide for the walking tour was Jacqueline, a girl from Australia working in Paris for the past year. She was very funny and extremely knowledgeable about all of the sights. We saw quite a bit in the 4 hours we walked around Paris; Notre Dame, Saint Michel fountain, Louvre, Opera House, Egyptian Obelisk, Arc de Triomphe and the list goes on and on. I learned quite a bit about the history of each place and about the people in French history that shaped this amazing city. The most surprising factoid that we learned from our guide was the during the Nazi occupation of Paris, Hitler ordered his general to place explosives throughout the city and if they were going to lose hold of it be sure to level the city to dust. Hitler stated that if he couldn't have Paris no one would. Thankfully when the Allies were overtaking Paris the general decided to disobey Hitler because he had fallen in love with the city and couldn't see it destroyed. Its true that Paris has an exceptional ability to make you fall in love with the city. It's charming and romantic with great architecture, food and wine. The history is rich and interesting which further pulls you in to the charm. Around every corner there is something beautiful to behold and the number of cultural sights is daunting. In the following days I am looking forward to having some time alone to get lost in the streets and take pictures. I haven't taken many yet but I'll end this by saying, pictures cannot do justice to the beauty of Paris and I am so happy to be back here on yet another adventure.