Thursday, September 20th, 2007 @ 10:07 | abroad, life, society

20/21 09: London

I meant to post the impressions of my first real business trip during the actual trip, but at hotel internet rates, I suddenly found myself with another batch of unposted travel notes. But here goes, I’m putting them all up in one go.

27/28 08: Alone in Holland

It’s a little past midnight. I am alone in my hotel room, facing the Atlantic. It’s much darker than back home north. The full moon is painting the waves with white light through spotty clouds. The large industrial zone’s massive gas torches light the night to the side, and inbetween are hundreds of leisure boats. A lighthouse’s torch shines in my eyes every few seconds. I should have brought a camera.

I’ve known the colleagues I’m with for a little over a week and it hits me: I’ve never been this alone, this out of my element. I tried to alleviate the circumstances by hitting the internet, but I’m not going to pay 8€ for 60 minutes of broadband. I wanted to call my wife, but she should be fast asleep by now. So instead I wrote this on the Windows Notepad; at least I can feel a future connection to my blog.

I am an individual and I can take care of myself, but I am not used to being alone. It’s a new feeling to me. It’s surprising, really – I guess I actually thought that on a basic level, I’d already experienced most of what life has to offer for me, like it would be all repetition from now on (not to say that’s a bad thing in itself) – but perhaps luckily, it does’t go that way.

Sure I could go more hardcore still, traveling really alone to a place really out of my cultural sphere, but as things stand, this is an interesting place to be.

28/29 08: Adaptation

Twenty-four hours later, I’m again alone in my hotel room, but now I’m savoring the “me” -time. I just got off the phone after twenty-plus minutes with my wife, and after a day of intense interaction with foreign colleagues, it’s great to be alone. It’s been a heavy day of training and tomorrow will be harder still, and with less sleep, to boot. But the networking has been totally worth the Visa bill and the loss of sleep. It’s somewhat revelatory to realize that the people behind our Europe headquarters’ email addresses are just that; people, exactly like the people in my office. Sure, our brand is big enough to attract some superstar talent, too, but most of us are just people, struggling with exactly the same problems that I am. I have especially enjoyed the interaction with our Swedish and Japanese colleagues; Swedish because they’re our Nordic neighbors and Japanese partly because they’re our global headquarters and partly because I haven’t known any Japanese people before.

My back is a pain, though.

20/21 09: Battle metal in London

From air, England looked exactly liked I imagined it would, a curious, sketchy take away from the Amsterdam surroundings I looked at an hour earlier. I got the fly-by of London and didn’t feel any real need to see the sights – though I’m sure they could be impressive from the ground level. Everything looked so unassuming.

Through the male sex’s fascination with football, our dinner plans were cancelled. I was so tired that I didn’t really complain, three hours of sleep plus perhaps another ninety minutes on air not quite enough to deal with the day’s toll. Then I spotted a local friend’s status message on Facebook, stating her intent to see Turisas the same night, and withing ten minutes I had bought a ticket and arranged a date with friends.

I was a little intimidated with the London public transportation and I welcomed my friends easing me in from the Heathrow tube station. We had dinner and beers, I met this interesting magazine editor, and we saw the heroic viking metal show. I had never heard a chord of Turisas, but it was so easy to get in on it. It was really a world apart from my daytime activities, taking in corporate plans, it’s a little hard to orientate myself for tomorrow’s training.

Once again, you see how huge an impact local guides have. I got the London experience within six hours. After my priceless friends saw me into the correct train, I made my way back to the Crowne Plaza, daring to take a local bus and saving myself around 16 GBP in the process.

I am positivey surprised by London. The people are immediate and aware; I got more feedback and interaction (and ketchup) with strangers today than in a week of living in Helsinki. I’ve heard Londoners being called cold, but I just don’t see where that’s coming from. Everybody’s very happy to help me and generally people tend to take you into account. Which generally just doesn’t happen in Helsinki.

Traveling on the job is not easy or fun, but right now I feel like I can value the insight it’s giving me. Of course, without my UK friends I would be typing a very different story tonight.

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