Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Work Update and Goals for the Next Year

Work has been pretty excellent lately. I've been more in my element than ever before, as work has been less data collection and more writing about said data this past week and a half, and we all know that I enjoy writing (and am pretty decent at it). I've been interviewing the Sales Directors about their largest customers, and had a wonderful conversation today with Ludmila, the SD of Russia+CIS. We discussed some of our business in that part of the world, as well as the governments and policies in the CIS in general. Certainly the most interesting conversation I've had all summer, really was great.

This past weekend was pretty good. Friday night was the company beach party, which was fun. There was a beach volleyball tournament (our team went 1-5, I did pretty badly, having never played beach volleyball. Henning was an absolute juggernaut, though, which was slightly surprising, as he's probably not any taller than like 5'5", but he really was by a wide margin the best player on our team). Afterwards we watched the World Cup matches (we being 50 or so employees) at a beach bar with a huge buffet and open bar. I had a fair few pints with the English boys from the office, and it was a late night which was not my finest performance. Saturday morning I woke up around 8:30 somehow, despite not getting home until about 2:45. I biked about 15-20km through Wassenaar before going into "town". This was actually really cool. A brief aside: businesses here in Holland have inconvenient hours. They close at like 5:00pm, and open at like 9:00am, which means that every time I go into "town" (i.e. after I get off work), everything is closed except for like 2-3 restaurants that I eat at when I go there. However on Saturday morning, it was absolutely jam-packed and bustling, which was really, really cool to see. Bought a few post cards of Scheveningen Beach from a store in town, bought SuperFreakonomics and read a bit of that Saturday, and just sort of had a lazy afternoon of World Cup watching. Sunday was another day of biking, reading, getting a bit of sun, and watching the World Cup.

Monday was good at work. Hunter returned from the States, which was excellent as I've now got another person about my age to hang out with. I continued to do some data collection and start the writing. Tuesday and Wednesday have been more of the same.

Looking likely that I go to Colombia, I'll probably book that airfare tonight or tomorrow afternoon. I've decided on my 4 goals for next school year, in order of increasing difficulty:

1) Win either the Outstanding Senior in International Business or the International Business Service Award

2) Get a 4.0 GPA while taking 22 credit hours (7 classes) fall semester

3) Participate in the Student Export Project. Explanation on export project: basically a midwestern company wants to expand abroad. The ISU College of Business selects about 4-6 COB students to do a market analysis for the market the company wants to expand in to. These students do this the entire spring semester. After the end of the semester, the students travel to whichever country the company wants to expand into for about 4-5 weeks (sometimes as many as like 7 weeks). This year they sent some students to Germany and another group to Argentina, Chile, and Uruguay. The internship I'm doing here in Holland will be excellent practice for this project.

4) Establish a College of Business study abroad program in Istanbul, Turkey, hopefully with the help of Dr. Aysen Bakir. I brought this up to Dr. Bakir about a year ago and she expressed modest interest, so I'll be looking forward to hearing back from her about this, but to my knowledge no student has ever done this before, so we'll see how this works out. It would be a wonderful legacy to leave at the ISU COB, so we shall see. Again, lofty is this.

Other than that, Mr. Iain McMahon is coming to Amsterdam this weekend, so that'll be fun. Next weekend Hunter may go to Munich, though that's not looking promising, but if he does I'll come along. I'll probably post something if I end up buying tickets to Bogota, as that's sort of a major-ish thing. Hopefully I'll be able to take off Friday a few weeks from now and go visit Henna Helsinki and The Village Man in Finland, as the Old AlanKey is coming here from Hong Kong to see them then tour Europe for a bit, so meeting them would be excellent.

More to come as I keep hanging around the Netherlands...

Thursday, June 24, 2010

More Holland, South America Plans, You Know, The Usual

So it’s been about a week since I posted anything, and given the swings experienced when adjusting to a totally new culture, a week is a fairly long time to go between posts, so here we go:

Where we left off from last time, I was struggling a bit to adjust to things in The Netherlands, and longing for HK. I’m glad to report that since then things have changed significantly, most of that change taking place in the last 48 hours or so. That being said, let’s backtrack to right after my last blog post:

Last week was fairly uneventful. Henning was out of the office for a few days, and I just sort of did my own thing at work. The work week was rather long, but I learned a fair bit more about the industry, key customers, the setup of the company, etc. Last weekend was also the planned “970X run”, i.e. go to a major public transport hub and try and catch the next mode of transport to somewhere. Anyway, so the plan was to take off Friday and go somewhere, but Henning preferred that I did not take off Friday, given that I took off a few days a couple weeks ago to head down to Italy to meet with the family.

Perfectly understandable, so Friday night I decided to head to Amsterdam Schiphol Airport and attempt, knowing that it was a long shot, to just ask a KLM ticket agent if there were any not-full flights departing that evening that I could possibly fly out on for a discounted fare, given that odds are, if the flight isn’t full 2 hours before takeoff, it won’t be full. Given that Europe is the “land of high prices and unfriendly people”, they would have none of that, so I got nowhere fast from Schiphol. From there, I headed onward, relatively undeterred, to Amsterdam Centraal rail station, assuming that there’d have to be a train going somewhere Friday evening. Upon arrival, the international ticket office was closed for the night. Massively deterred, I tried walking to Amstel St. Bus Terminal, which I only knew to be “about 2km South of Centraal Station”. So naturally, having no real idea of where I was going, I just walked in a direction I knew to be South. Thankfully, Amsterdam is not a maze of a city, otherwise I might not have found Amstel St. Station. That was sarcasm. I absolutely didn’t have a chance at finding the place, by this time it was about 10:00pm, and I really didn’t feel ambitious enough to hunt down the station. Had it been HK I’d’ve taken a cab, but in Holland (or anywhere in the west), cabs aren’t retardedly cheap, so I just went back to The Hague Friday evening.

Upon waking up Saturday morning I saw that Marije (a friend of mine that I knew in Hong Kong that is Dutch, and lives in Amsterdam) had attempted to contact me via facebook regarding my plans for the big Netherlands-Japan World Cup match Saturday afternoon. I got a hold of her and she told me to come to Amsterdam to watch the match with some friends of hers in some random bar. I certainly couldn’t turn down such an invitation, especially given that I hadn’t seen Marije in like a month, so I took the train back into Amsterdam Saturday morning and met up with her and her boyfriend, Juriann at AMS Centraal. From there we went to drop off some things at their friend’s apartment, and I was able to see how Dutch students live. Not too surprisingly, it was a pretty standard, American-ish apartment. The one thing that would have looked very out of place in an American apartment was a huge soccer trophy, but that’s about it. And all the orange stuff all around. Speaking of orange, Steve Guilford (Stinen Guildford to those who know him well) would have loved the match. The bar we went to had about 60-70 people fit into a place that was about big enough for 40, and every single person there was wearing orange everything. Bright. San Francisco Giants style. Orange. Everywhere. Holland scored early in the 2nd half, and my God, did the place go absolutely nuts. Absolute pandemonium, the likes of which I can basically only compare to like, maybe the pandemonium I experienced when LSU blocked an Alabama field goal at the end of regulation to force overtime at a game I was at in 2008. But even that might be pushing it. Anyway, so that was electrifying, and Holland ended up winning 1-0. After the match we went and walked around Amsterdam for awhile, with Marije and Juriann pointing out interesting sights. I also bought a Dutch sim card for when my old European phone from last summer arrives in the mail from the parentals. With said sim card came a free orange vuvuzela in celebration of the world cup. Welcome to Holland (or Europe, for that matter) during the world’s biggest sporting event. So now that the random tangent about vuvuzelas is over, back to Saturday. After hanging around for a bit I headed back to The Hague Saturday evening and watched more World Cup.

Sunday involved some (shocker) World Cup watching, bike riding (found a very decent little Japanese restaurant in downtown Wassenaar), and talking to the Old AlanKey via Skype on his cell phone. I didn’t even know that was possible, but apparently AlanKey is able to talk into his cell phone as though he’s making a call, but have me be on the other end on Skype. What an age we live in, and to think, S.E.S. World Skies is (maybe) involved in the transmission of that info, given our involvement in everything (including World Cup broadcasting to North and South America). AlanKey was in central Hong Kong, and the sounds of the city could easily be heard in the background, making me a bit nostalgic for the old place.

Also Skyped Madlien for a bit in the evening to further discuss the possible trip to Bogota. It is looking decently likely that Blaine Curcio will be making his first appearance in South America sometime in August, an event that will surely be met with fiestas, siestas, and other “estas” immediately upon my arrival. So yeah, again, the plan would then be to arrive at O’Hare at 3:15pm on a flight straight from Dublin and leave for a flight to Miami at 6:55pm same day, have an 11 hour connection in Miami, then get to Bogota the next day, on the verge of mental and physical collapse from having travelled for something like 40 hours. However, if nothing else, I had decent training for this sort of thing on December 26, 2009, when Dan and I missed a connection in Minneapolis due to snow and ended up doing Chicago-Minneapolis (4 hour layover)-Amsterdam (10 hour flight followed by 11 hour layover)-Tokyo (10 hour flight)-Aiko Ichida (3 hour train ride). So if I can handle that (and, for the record, I felt great upon arrival in Tokyo), I can certainly handle Amsterdam-Dublin (3 hour layover)-Chicago (9 hour flight 4 hour layover)-Miami (11 hour layover)-Bogota (probably about a 6 hour flight). Now that all 3 readers are spinning from too many flights and cities and layovers and such…

This week was a good one at work. Monday and Tuesday were pretty standard, and Wednesday morning I decided that I ought to catch up with Henning on my work thus far, and on a gameplan for the last 7 weeks of the internship. The conversation went very well, with Henning and I exchanging some very interesting ideas and insights.

After that I worked out with H.R. my tax rate and other such things for my pay for this internship. Basically because I’m not making enough money to live off of, I pay very low taxes, as it turns out. That’s a win, that. I also am considering pulling the old tax fraud when I get home and not reporting my meager income here to the I.R.S., given that I can’t be bothered doing that, and they won’t find out about a few thousand US$ that I made here… hopefully. So yeah, good week at work overall.

Also, last night I figured out how to order pizza for delivery despite the fact that the whole website was in Dutch... I thought it was a decent accomplishment, at the very least.

This weekend the plan is to really explore The Hague on Saturday. I’d like to visit the place where Milosevic was tried and jailed and died. Given that it’s literally right across the street from my office, I figure I should go sometime… Friday night is the company summer beach party, which goes from like 2:00pm-late and includes, but is not limited to, volleyball, limbo, samba, Dutch people, food, beverages, napkins, and sand. Word is there’s going to be a beach there as well. Sunday I’ll likely go to Henning’s, as he and his wife are having some people over to watch England vs. Germany in the World Cup round of 16. The weekend after next, Iain McMahon, the man, the legend, the Aussie, will be in Amsterdam, so I’ll be going to visit and hang out with him and, presumably, Marije as well. That’s more or less all at the moment. It’s crazy to think that next week is already July, and that I’ve now (having just realized it) been here for a month. Time flies when you’re having fun… or working 50 hours a week.

To those who have read this far, a big thank you, and I hope that you enjoyed the hyperlinks I decided to put in, some obviously being quirkier and less useful than others, but all being lovingly placed for your reading enjoyment and enhancement. If you’re reading this then you’d probably be characterized in the statement “I miss you all!”

More news to come as it develops.

Monday, June 14, 2010

World Cup Fever, Continuing the Internship, and a Period of Immense Self-Doubt

It's a bit of a lengthy blog post, but eh, you've got the choice to read it or not. Apologies for having this post be relatively poorly written and choppy, but I couldn't get into the greatest groove when writing it.

Going into my study abroad in Hong Kong, I had the arrogant mindset that culture shock was a load of garbage. I’ve always thought that people who couldn’t handle adjusting to new situations or environments were either weak, uncultured, or unwilling to put forth the effort needed to adapt to their new environment. I more or less thought I confirmed this idea upon arrival in Hong Kong, when I had absolutely no trouble adapting, and within a couple of weeks had a solid crew of people and was really enjoying my time in Hong Kong. The difference in cultures between Chicago and Hong Kong, while vast, was not a hindrance, quite the contrary it made it much more fun when hanging out with this new group of friends, in that together we were all discovering and adjusting to this great, foreign place.

However, these first couple of weeks in Holland have really changed my outlook on culture shock, adjusting to new lifestyles, etc. I knew when I left Hong Kong that I’d really miss everyone there, and that it would be a tough adjustment to Holland. At this point, I’ve more or less come to terms with separation from the individual people in Hong Kong, but what I find myself missing is just the feeling of cohesion within a group of friends. As I said in my last blog post, the host family I’m staying with has left for the USA for the next few weeks. Yesterday morning I woke up to a house that was entirely empty with the exception of two Filipino maids, who don’t really offer much in terms of human contact, to say the least. Yesterday during the day I was in a pretty right state. Essentially, I was mulling over the slim possibility of going into the office today and simply telling my supervisor, Henning, that I can no longer do this internship and will be leaving for the States as soon as possible, due to the difficulty of adjusting to life here. However, I then took a couple hour bike ride and realized that I’m Blaine Curcio, and I’ve never tried and failed at anything in my entire life, therefore the only realistic thing to do here is go into the office tomorrow (today) and just thoroughly dominate the rest of this internship in every way possible. Additionally, I realized that it would be massively hypocritical of me to look so adamantly down upon people that give up in difficult situations, and then to do the same thing myself. Besides, as is the popular adage, go big or go home. I guess a good long bike ride is a good way to clear one’s head, and what better place than Holland to do such a thing.

Ok so now that all 6 readers have had a good, thorough look into the mind of Blaine Curcio, let’s talk about the last few days. Friday was epic, the start of the biggest sporting event in the world. I remember in September of 2006 when Tom Nielsen and I started a monthly countdown to this World Cup. Thank god it’s finally here, and I’m in one of the best countries for watching it (the Dutch fans are psychotic). Friday afternoon I was able to sort of sneak away from the desk for awhile to join the boys downstairs watching the opening match. I walked into the executive conference room to find the match being played on a projector screen, and to find, among others, no less than 1 Senior Vice President and a few Sales Directors anxiously awaiting kickoff of South Afirca-Mexico. I was able to watch about the first half hour, went back to work for an hour or so, and returned for the final 20 minutes. I don’t really care to get into what I thought of the match, as ESPN, BBC, Eurosport, and every other sports news agency have already had every match covered by every analyst and their mother. Plus, anyone who’s reading this blog probably isn’t reading it to get my opinion of the World Cup matches. Anyway, Friday night I got a random facebook message from Andrew Cohen, a friend from HS that I hadn’t seen since my going away party back in December. He happened to see my facebook status regarding watching the World Cup in Dutch, and said that he was in Amsterdam until Monday, having completed a study abroad in London, and was working his way down through Europe. So of course, being about 45 minutes from Amsterdam by train, I headed into “The ‘Dam” on Saturday morning to meet up with him. Met him and his friend Drew at Centraal Station, and more or less played tourist for the day, something I’ve not done in Amsterdam. We walked around for a bit, went to the “I Amsterdam” sign, something I’d not seen since December, and then went to a canal cruise. This was very interesting, as we got to see a lot of Amsterdam via the city’s extensive canal network. The cruise was about an hour and 15 minutes, and, in addition to seeing a fair few things from the canals, the boat had an audio system that told us what everything was in English, which made the cruise much more pleasant. After that we got some “Dutch pancakes”, which, according to Andrew’s friend Drew, are something of a specialty in Holland. Basically, it was a flattened crepe (i.e. not rolled up at all, very much in “pancake form”, if you will) with a few different toppings. I got mine with some cheese, tomato, and garlic, which was very nice. We also had some sort of syrupy sauce (it was kind of a cross between syrup and vegemite), which was decent. After that, I headed back to The Hague to watch USA-England. Again, don’t care to offer World Cup analysis here, but overall I was satisfied with a draw.

Woke up Sunday morning to an empty house, as I said. However, it was quite nice, I was able to Skype Elliott and Paris from Ulaanbaatar. Apparently they’d taken a 32 hour train ride from Beijing to Ulaanbaatar, and had just arrived. Talked to them for awhile, and, as I said, it was very nice to see their faces and hear their voices again. The phrases “is that all?”, “that is shocking”, and “are you still here?” were used repeatedly, rest assured. I found it a bit amusing, at one point Elliott asked if Paris would want to go catch the Aus-Germany WC match, to which Paris replied, “that starts at 2:30am, and the guidebook says don’t go out after midnight unless you want to get robbed or harassed by drunks”. Welcome to Mongolia, as they say. It should probably be mentioned that, for nostalgia’s sake, I’m turning on “The Seeker” by The Who right now. Shoutout to you, Mr. Roy Sandaver. Brings back memories of bundy rum and coke zero in the 4th floor common room.

Anyway: last night was spent watching World Cup matches and doing a bit of preparation for a meeting with Henning today, the point of which was to discuss my image for the final product of this whole internship. Henning seemed to really enjoy what I’d put together, and this week will involve me getting into some “nitty-gritty” (for want of a better word) stuff, such as customer analysis, speaking with sales managers, etc. I plan on absolutely demolishing the work like it’s nobody’s business, so we’ll see how my loads of confidence hold up throughout the week. If nothing else, it’s not as though I’ve got anything else to do, given the fact that I’m currently living alone in a huge house in a country where I know like 4 people outside of work, so I’ll have plenty of time to work. That statement was not necessarily bitter or sarcastic, it was more a general acceptance of the situation that I’m in. Despite the fact that it’s not ideal, it could sure as hell be worse, and the fact is I’m still spending a summer working in Holland with the rest of Europe at my doorstep, more or less, so I can’t be complaining too much.

The whole South America idea is starting to look more and more feasible, and interesting. Frankly I’d only go if I were to meet up with Madlien down there, as otherwise I have no real reason to not be home the week before school, given that I’ve not been in the U.S. in something like 168 days, so I think it’s safe to say I’ll have a few things to take care of upon arrival. Anyway, that being said, if I can meet up with Madlien somewhere in SA, it’d be worth going, as she’s a lot of fun to travel with (she’s also very good at figuring out where exactly we are in Seoul at all times… much better than I am anyway) (Madlien, if you’re by some chance reading this, that is as sincere and genuine as I’m ever going to get, so relish in the compliment! :-P). So yeah, there is, at this point, realistically, maybe a 40-45% chance that I’m in South America the week of August 16-22. Another option would be to go with Dan and Steve to Foxwoods in Connecticut, and on the way hitting up some Giants games in Philadelphia. Definite possibility, but given the fact that I can’t imagine I’d sacrifice that last week to go to somewhere in a region that I’ve already been, I don’t think it’s too likely. Although I have been known to occasionally do things on the fly like that…

Further facts, musings, etc: today Holland plays Denmark in our first World Cup match. The atmosphere in the office is intense. A fair percentage of the people are wearing orange (or Oranje, if you’re Dutch…), and I’d expect more to be wearing orange if this was actually a Dutch company, but the multinational influence causes there to be a lot of diversity. Consequently, however, there is rarely a match that no one in the office has some emotional stake in, so maybe the diversity will make the WC all the more interesting (and by maybe, I mean it will).

I’m attempting to get an override to take 22 hours next semester. The courseload would be as follows: MQM 227 (some management course), FIL 185 (business law or something similar), FIL 241 (investments), FIL 242 (financial markets), GEO 207 (natural disasters, just finishing core requirements), ACC 270 (information systems), and, drumroll… LAN 111.12 (first year French, part one). Why French, you ask? I honestly have no idea, I just sort of woke up one morning and decided it sounded decent. Welcome to the mind of Blaine Curcio I guess, it’s a strange place.

Spoke with Profe Lisa the other day, my old Italian professor (and by old, I mean I had her before, but will also have her next spring). I emailed her about 3 weeks ago regarding writing me a reference letter, and when she didn’t respond, I knew the culprit, her massive incompetence at reading email! She’s definitely the best professor I’ve ever had, but my god is she incompetent at checking email (partly due to general computer illiteracy. However, as I said, my favorite professor ever, and a decent candidate for sainthood.) Anyway, called up her cell and we spoke in Italo-English for a good 15 minutes, she’s write the letter, etc. so that was good to get that finished.

Anyway, this post is getting a bit long, and, frankly, I’m really unsatisfied with the structure, flow, tone, etc. anyway, so I’m just going to stop writing before I feel obligated to change anything, because that would involve far too much work. If you’ve read to this point, many thanks, I do appreciate knowing (or not knowing, but assuming) that some people find my life at least somewhat interesting. More to come later in the week most likely, or when I feel like writing something that’s not as sloppy and unorganized as this piece. Forza Azzurri, beat those Paraguayans.

Also: in brief summation relating this all to the initial point of this blog: overall, despite finding it very difficult to adjust to life here, I definitely view this as a good experience. I’ve been massively humbled by the fact that my arrogant attitude about being immune to culture shock was proven wrong, and I feel that that’s a very important step in becoming a successful international businessperson, so even if I don’t get anything else out of this internship (which I very much hope to not be the case), it was worth coming here, if only because it caused me to reassess myself as a world traveler.

That is about all, more to come later

Also, been listening to a fair bit of Rod Stewart lately. That's been enjoyable

Also: A happy birthday to my Dad, Mark Curcio. Doubt you'll be reading this today, as I believe you guys are returning home from Italy so you'll be in the air most of the day, but happy 54th, see you on August 16th, love, Blaine

Thursday, June 10, 2010

First Couple of Weeks in Holland, Italy, and a Potential Hong Kong Throwback in an Old 970X Run

So my last blog post came on one of my first couple of days in Holland. I’ve now been here a bit over two weeks, so I figured another blog post was in order. My first couple of weeks of work have been a bit monotonous. I’ve more or less been told to read up on the industry, learn about the different services SES offers, etc. I have, however, achieved a clearer vision of what exactly it is that I’m supposed to be doing here. From what I gather, I’m to analyze SES World Skies’ 20-25 biggest European customers, tell my supervisor why they buy from us, why they buy from competition, are they buying from us and from competition for different purposes or the same purposes, what is our share of wallet, etc. So yeah, that’s about it on the work front. Had a scavenger hunt around The Hague one of my first days here, we got 2nd out of 6 teams, would have been first had it not been for the raging incompetence of two of our team members, but let’s not go there. Afterwards we all went to a bar (and by we all mean like 40 SES employees) where it was open-bar, paid for by the company. Fairly late night spent talking pre-world cup analysis with the Englishmen.

Last weekend I got to see the family in Italy. I flew down to Rome Thursday night, and was met Friday morning by the 4 in my family, 4 in Uncle Fred’s family, 3 Gabanski’s, 4 Lane’s, 3 Caputo’s, 1 Grammy, and 1 Pop. Yes, that’s 20 people. From there we went to Formia via minibus before taking the ferry to Ventotene. I was there with the family until Monday morning, and on Sunday afternoon we were joined by Uncle Fred’s business partner from Hong Kong, Chanwa, who I hadn’t seen since February, and who has been stranded in France for a few months due to a passport issue. So that was a nice weekend. Also, it turns out, Monday on my journey back to Holland, I did the following: boarded a ferry, which dropped me off at a dock, where I was picked up by a private car, which dropped me at an airport, where I boarded an airplane, which dropped me off at another airport, at which I boarded a train, which dropped me off at a train/bus terminal, where I boarded a bus, which dropped me off at a bus stop from where I walked home. Public. Transport. For. The. Win. Boat to car to plane to train to bus to foot. I then rode a bike to work the next morning.

Next weekend I’m debating pulling the old 970X Special (those from HK, in particular a one Raphael Holca will know why it is so appropriately named) and going to Amsterdam Centraal rail station (or, as Madlien pointed out, Amsterdam’s main bus station, as busses will be much cheaper), and just boarding the next internationally bound bus/train and taking it to the end of the line. This idea would really only work if I was able to take off next Friday, which definitely seems possible. Should I do that, it appears the odds are decent that I’d end up in Paris, as there are something like 12 busses daily and 9 trains, which is vastly more than anywhere else. Other intriguing destinations could include Copenhagen, Berlin, Munich, etc. That being said, I will not be taking a train/bus to Russia if that is the next train/bus, due to visa issues (something like $130 for a visa and you need to do it in advance). As much as I don’t mind doing things on the fly, I don’t like my odds of getting into Russia without paying an arm and a leg should I show up at the border with no visa.

At this point I’ve sort of unexpectedly come to accept the fact that I left behind something great in Hong Kong. Realizing that everyone had their own places to be, things to do, etc., I’m sort of at peace with the fact that we’ll never, ever have that entire crew in the same place ever again, barring some very unexpected series of events. More than anything, however, I miss the stupid random nights where we just either did nothing, played monopoly at uhall, or went out and wrought havoc on HK like only our crew was able to do. If nothing else, I easily take solace in the fact that several solid people are living just north of the border in Canada (Rapha, Divyan, Racist Henry, Caitlin, Mawuena, Matias I’m looking at all of you!), and will be relatively accessible next year. Additionally, I figure anyone who studied abroad in a place as off-beat as Hong Kong will probably be traveling a fair bit in their lifetimes, so I’m sure my path will cross randomly with a fair few people that I met in HK in some odd places over the next few years at least.

Now that what is most likely my last “I miss Hong Kong” rant is over, let’s get back to Holland. Yesterday during my bike ride home from work, I saw the following modes of transportation utilized: car, bus, tram, bike, motorcycle, scooter, ATV, horse, foot. Welcome to Holland. Additionally, the considerable use of horses leads to bike paths being littered with piles of their defecation. Fun. It’s been rainy the last few days. Two days ago I left the office around 5:20pm, when there appeared to be a good break in the rain, blue skies, etc. Rookie error on my part, about 7 mins after leaving the office it started downpouring. Thankfully I was near a bridge, so I just went underneath there, joining about a half dozen other people sheltered from the rain. Luckily, because its Holland, the rain stopped after like 5 minutes, so it was alright. The cafeteria at work continues to be free. This is a result of enormous incompetence by the planners of the place. After a 6 month, several million euro renovation, no one had thought of a way to get money from the employees, so basically last week they ordered the equipment they need, and it takes three weeks to get here. So I’ll be having free lunch for the next 2 weeks or so. It’s also a very high quality of food, and the chef is more or less a legend among men.

These next few weeks have potential to be difficult. Hunter left for the States last weekend, and he won’t return till like the 28th of June, and Sierra is leaving for the States Saturday, so at that point I’ll know a whopping zero people in The Hague under the age of 30. Mr. and Mrs. Sprague are also leaving for the States this weekend, so I’ll have the house to myself for a couple of weeks, which may sound decent, but I anticipate it to be rather boring/lonely, as I don’t really know anyone here of my own age group at this point. Therefore, I ask you all, be available on Skype, as I’ll be bored presumably.

It occurred to me today that I currently know people that I met in HK that are on 6 continents. As said earlier, people who study in Hong Kong apparently enjoy traveling sometimes. A sick part of me is considering going to South America from the 16-22 of August to visit Madlien after her internship, as airfare to South America at that time of year is quite reasonable. This would involve returning from Holland at 3:15pm on the 16th and flying to Bogota at 6:55pm on the 16th, before returning around 4:00pm on the 22nd, and starting class at 9:00am the 23rd. Hence the fact that I said it’s a sick part of me wanting to do such a thing. That being said, it would at the very least be a fitting way to end the summer, and the “2010 Blaine Curcio World Tour”. I guess this is also a fitting place to end this blog post, as I don’t have much more to talk about. If you’ve read this far, hats off to you, I guess you find this sort of thing interesting, and I do appreciate you taking the time to see how I’ve been doing in my time here in Holland.