Friday, July 03, 2015

Thoughts About Europe

From May 30th - June 12th, I had the opportunity to travel to Europe for work. A couple of co-workers and me visited various GE Aviation suppliers in England, France, and Switzerland.

Even though I wanted to go to these places, I didn’t think it would be that big of a deal to actually be there.  I've heard about Paris being so great before, but I thought "is it really that much better than all of the other big cities I've been to, such as Philadelphia, Chicago, San Francisco, New York, etc."  Having now visited it, I can now say that it is indeed my favorite city.  Visiting the other European countries and cities was also absolutely amazing.


There were moments, especially when I first entered Paris and Fougere, that I felt so grateful to be there that I was almost literally moved to tears. While I’ve always had the thought that I’d like to visit Europe someday, I’m still so far financially from being able to go on my own that it's never really seem like a reality that I would actually get there.

I was also surprised at how awesome it was to be standing in front of these historic monuments.  To be able to put my hands on them, to have them looming over me so high that I had to lean back to see the top.  I took hundreds of pictures, but no matter how high the resolution, or how big the medium (screen, print, etc.), the 2-dimensional image cannot even come close to capturing the view, let alone the feeling of being there.  I wanted to take close up pictures, so I could capture the detail, but then you can only see a small portion of their immense size.

video

In school, history was probably my least favorite subject.  Reading about the various wars and events that happened before I was born was always boring to me.  I felt so distant, so separated from it.  But being at these places, and seeing the dates on the moments from the different periods in time puts it in an entirely different perspective.  I had so many questions about it all, the details, the statistics, the surrounding factors and supporting cast.  I know it’s impossible, but if all kids could learn about history while visiting the places that the events actually occurred, I'm sure it would be the most popular and absorbed subject in school.

Here are some observations and notes from my trip:

All Three Countries:

  • The 5-6 hour time zone difference is difficult to adjust to.
  • All the cars are compact, because of small roads and cost of gas.  Puegeut, Renault, Citroen, Mercedes, Audi, Alfa Romeo, BMW, VW.  Many motorcycles and scooters also.  
  • Light switches and electrical sockets are different.

England

  • More Muslims walking around (women with head scarfs).
  • More people smoking
  • Classic style taxi cabs
  • Grey, cloudy, rainy
  • Bath tubs are ~3” higher (trip getting in, stumble getting out)
  • Language differences:  KitKat = biscuit, truck = lorry, hood = bonnet, mucky pup = name called by jovial guy when cleaning smear on shirt

France

  • Fougere is very charming, historical
  • Cobblestone roads, stone buildings, cool castle.
  • Public porn channel in Fougere
  • Decimals and commas switched in numbers (10.557,013).
  • No air conditioning (very hot inside when temp rises outside).
  • Massy is not very exciting/interesting.  Well located though (pretty close to Paris).

Switzerland

  • Fribourg similarly historical and charming to Fougere.
  • Fantastic cathedral in Fribourg.
  • Multiple languages spoken/heard, including French, German, Dutch(?).  France probably most prominent due to France being closest border country to the cities visited.
  • Lots of rolling hills.
It was a life-changing, eye-opening, memorable trip.  Now I hope I can someday afford to take my whole family there, or at the very least Amanda.  I'd also like to visit the other major European countries.

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