My host country seems to define success as a work/life balance. They don’t see working constantly as successful. They see that as too much. My one coworker’s husband owns a store just down the block and she told me to never open my own company. She told me he works constantly and she has to help him with the store on her lunch break so he can have a lunch break as well. I have noticed that the workers in my office love to talk about their personal lives and its their personal lives that make them happy, not their work lives. I have been working in payroll for the past few weeks. I see that a lot of the workers don’t necessarily make six figures, but many seem to take a lot of vacations and leave. They focus more on their lives outside of work than the money that would come from over working themselves. This is something that I think people in our culture need to take into consideration. They need to have a work life balance. Life is not all about work. A lot of life that we will remember is outside of work. And that is something that I think the Irish do well and the rest of us need to recognize.
In other news, I recently took a trip to Amsterdam, or should I say I went to Amsterdam to trip. I’m only kidding. I read the rules, I know I’m not allowed to take drugs. There are many other, more interesting things to do in Amsterdam anyway. My friend Ryan and I went and met up with our friends who are doing the program in Madrid. We did a boat tour of the canals, saw Anne Frank’s house, went to an Ice Bar, and had some delicious pancakes. This was a very interesting and different city. Aside from all the bad things that you hear about Amsterdam, there are a lot of beautiful parts of it and it has a rich history. I very much enjoyed my stay there. I felt unfortunate that I could only be there for the weekend, because there were a lot of other things I would have liked to have experienced. My favorite part was the Moco museum. I have always been a huge Banksy fan (yes I am hip). While I disagree with him a lot politically I really enjoy some of the messages he sends about life. Most of his work is quite depressing however, come on Banksy, look on the bright side every once in a while. I enjoy how he remains anonymous, it makes him much more mysterious and interesting. He says that he does it because there are so many people that are trying to get attention that we don’t need another person vying for it, but this has the exact opposite effect, causing his work to get much more attention. It seems to me that Banksy knows exactly what he is doing when he “tries not to get our attention”. Screw you Banksy, you don’t want my attention, well you have it. Any way his art was really good at the museum. I am upset that I didn’t get to go to the Van Gogh Museum however, we just didn’t have enough time.
As I mentioned earlier we did go to an Ice bar, which was a very cool experience. The glasses were made of ice and melted in your hand so you had to drink fast. The cold temperature in the room reminded me of the cold of Pittsburgh, but the bar was not as harsh, nothing is harsher than Pittsburgh weather.
There was also one big learning experience that I happened for me. We were at a bagel place and I asked for a plain bagel with cream cheese, and the waitress asked what kind of cream cheese. Me, not knowing that there was more than one kind of cream cheese, said “Philadelphia” because of the Philadelphia Cream cheese. I soon found out that that was not the correct answer, so my friend said plain for me. Very embarrassing.
Lastly, of course, we saw the red light district, which made me, a devout Catholic, very uncomfortable. What was interesting was that the area was right next to one of the biggest churches I have ever seen. I wonder if the red light district was there first and the church came in to try to get people away from it, or if it was the other way around. If the church came in to try and get people away from it then nice move by the church, but if it was the other way around, then that’s poor locationing by the red light district. The area itself was a big tourist attraction, you could tell that I lot of people (like me) were there just to see and not participate in the various activities that the red light district offered. It is very astonishing to me that they allow for certain things to be legal, but maybe regulating certain activities makes them safer. I hope so, because the area itself was very disturbing. A friend described his experience as “nothing can really prepare you for it” and I think he was right. It is just so odd and different from American culture.
Anyway, that’s all for now, see you next week on Jack Marquis’ blog.