Thursday, July 31, 2014

What I Learned in Europe


As I write this, I'm somewhere near the airspace of Afghanistan, heading home from my 2 week holiday in Europe. I'm trying to keep awake for this flight (8 hours from Brussels to Mumbai) because I want to fall asleep and adjust my body clock back to Singapore time in my next leg of flight from Mumbai to Singapore. 

Europe was really beautiful, more so this time because it was the first time I visited in summer. No, I will not write a post filled with pictures for a few reasons :
  1. I didn't take that many photos
  2. It's beauty should be experienced in the flesh

This time around, we went to the Black Forest, which I LOVED. I love hustling bustling cities, but I also love quiet, scenic views. We headed to Switzerland before stopping by Milan, and I am struck by how different people look at different parts. Of course, this isn't a particularly brilliant statement, people in Asia look different when they come from different parts too (duh).
But when you go from a more sort of rural, village type of place to fashion capital Milan, it's quite a jarring difference. Perhaps jarring is the wrong word, because it's not unpleasant, but it's amazing to think that one day, I am in the Black Forest literally drinking milk that came directly from the cow (I kid you not! The milk was still warm! #cowbodytemperature ftw) to people watching in Milan. I love seeing women in Milan, but especially the older ones. They all have this sort of elegance and style to them, with their perfectly coiffed bouffant hairs and big sunglasses. There's just this vibe to Italians that I love - it's a real cocktail of warmth and passion infused - think amazing food, hot blooded people, and just, well, style emanating out from people! 
I don't describe this very eloquently, but I hope you understand, or get a clue of what I mean.

The main point of this, however, was not to talk so much about the geography or the places I've been, but to tell you I rediscovered a couple of things. 
I went for a Dutch wedding in Austria (and that deserves a separate post on it). It's been a really long time since I've attended any family event of any kind (nobody seems to be getting married in my family…hmm..) but I was reminded of that whole big family vibe that I used to get every Chinese New Year when the family would assemble. We haven't done that in a long time, since my grandmother passed away. It was really nice, being put back in a family setting. I think a really big factor was also that everybody was very nice and spoke to English to me (since the main languages there were Dutch and German) and they were just a very warm and nice lot of people. But, what I was reminded was that family is the same. It doesn't matter what culture you're from. The bearded uncles (ok, maybe my Asian uncles are not so bearded but that's beside the point) with their big, booming voices. The aunts, with curled hair and dresses. The cousins, telling me about their travels and what they do. It's very strange, to feel familiarity within a completely unfamiliar environment. 

Most of all, I learned some things staying with my boyfriend's family. They are just the most generous, giving people you've ever met. Sometimes, in this world, when you get a little bit jaded, and a little bit tired, and a little bit screwed over one too many many a time, you forget about the good people. You forget there are genuine people. Now, by this I do not mean to say that I'm surrounded by terrible people, which of course, is not true, but maybe when I'm too busy chasing my own dreams and ambitions, I forget about these things. And…it's nice. It's really nice to have a warm squashy feeling inside. And I like it best, because it makes me want to be warm and squashy to people too. 
(Although, some people should be squashed. Plain and simple. With a bat.) 

I had a really nice trip to Europe. It's always nice to go, but it genuinely seems to get better every time. I also took a complete break from work, and besides travelling,  did things that I always want to do but sometimes not have the time to do, like
  1. Watch the entire season 1 of Suits. I was in the process of watching season 2 on my Note but it ran out of battery in the plane :(
  2. Exercise. I managed to do a 5k (although with stops, and I did walk a little) although it sure as heck did not feel pleasant.
  3. Cycle! I used to cycle all the time as a kid, but I haven't done that in over 10 years I think. It took a while to get used to being on the bike, and I'm still not great at it, but I was very happy to get back up that seat. Truth be told, I've always intended to go cycling in East Coast Park but I was a bit embarrassed to actually do it because I didn't know whether I could still cycle or not and didn't want to make a fool out of myself…
  4. Eat a ton of potato chips. Ok, this is bad. It's back to clean eating after this. But damn those paprika Pringles!

I feel refreshed. I feel happy, and I'm excited to be going to work tomorrow. 

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