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The Takeaway from the Netherlands (#9).

I’ve tended to suddenly stop writing about my previous experiences half way through. The Mexico sailing story from over three years ago still sits idly within my laptop, unfinished and unpublished; wondrous events from the study abroad experience in Beijing remain untold; Cal Lightweight Crew was a defining point in my college career, yet has received three measly posts; and don’t even get me started on Washington D.C.

Moreover, the backlog of video recordings continues to grow in my hard drive, and 1 terrabyte of space is proving to be insufficient for my lack of updates. The YouTube channel has been neglected.

I’m keep to stop this habit, now, starting with The Netherlands.

To be quite frank, I constructed an epic quote to end this trip: “I entered The Hague, and left Den Haag.” This was supposedly to signify how much I had learned about the Netherlands. Truth be told, I don’t deserve to say that because I didn’t put in enough effort to explore and blend into Dutch life.

But nonetheless, I had an incredible, incredible time.

I avoid talking about my professional life in writing, as you’ve seen from the lack of details in the D.C. chapter. To keep things short, we are a worldwide team and conduct international business. As a result, we spend the majority of the time working remotely throughout different time zones. Therefore, despite the four-day conference, the primary purpose of this trip was to spend the 15 days team building by living and working together.

And it was a wild, grandeur success.

Work aside, I got a taste of what it was like to live as a comfortable Dutchman. I rode on trains, busses, and trams on several occasions. I biked through a decent portion of The Hague. I saw train tracks that were completely overtaken by grass – exactly the way you see it taken by professional photographers. I ate fantastic food (and undoubtedly got flabbier), touched the Atlantic Ocean, biked in the rain, and experienced a storm of winds exceeding 60kmh. I walked on the same paths that Nazi Germany had conquered 70 years ago, saw open fields which Allied soldiers had battled and traversed, walked the paths that Jews took towards almost certain doom, and stood on what was once rubble and ruins of war-torn buildings.

This was such an eye opening experience. My sights have always been set towards Asia, with the justification that I can speak a relevant language and get more in touch with “my people.” Now that I have seen a glimpse of Europe, my curiosity for the continent has spiked from nil to bil[lion]. I can’t wait to go back and see the rest: of Nordic Europe, the Mediterranean islands, Slavic countries, and the thriving West. I’d love to rent a [very fast] car and drive on the Autobahn, around the Nurburgring, and through the small city streets of Italy. I’d love to see the developing former Soviet Union countries.

One of the most valuable moments of this trip was, surprisingly, a conversation with a colleague. He didn’t live in the house, but rather flew in from Copenhagen and stayed at a nearby hotel. He’s an ex-pat who has lived out of the United States for the past eight years. We had a long talk about world values, and he (unintentionally) made me think about how ethnocentric I and most of my friends are.

We (Americans) have yet to see the world. I have no right to speak on behalf of others, so I’ll speak only of myself. I’d like to consider myself a well-versed traveler, and as a result more tolerant of all people, yet I’m as clueless and ignorant as a child. I have much to learn from other people. I am not as important as I’d like to think. My goals and passions, worldviews and opinions, and social points of references are massively, massively underdeveloped. I have a lot of room for improvement.

This is something I will aim to address in my 20s. The idealist in me is struggling to stay alive and has been largely consumed by the realist, but I’m going to absorb as much as I can of the world. I’m going to extract the goods, discard the bad, and share it with my various communities. Then, when I have kids – future Stanford and Berkeley alums by the way, I’ve already figured this out 😛 – I’m going to spread this onto them as well.

Forever Free. That is the ideology.

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