Its been over 2 weeks (to be precise its been 18 days, not counting time zone differences) since embarking on this leg of backpacking around Europe. Now that I’m comfortably lying below Jia En on the bunk bed in the hostel room, perhaps its high time to pen down my thoughts of the places and experiences thus far.
I haven’t been using Facebook much, preferring instead to tune out and open up to the country i’m in so apologies if I’ve missed anything there.
Just a quick stopover before the Europe backpacking, would have been a longer stopover if not for the BA flight from SIN that was delayed by over 12 hours. But shit happens, we eventually made it there to deposit our 5 months worth of supplies (school stuff, winter wear, food, utensils etc) and spent the night at YHA Lee Valley which was a nice cosy place to spend the night away from central London and yet not too far from Stansted Airport for the flight into Berlin.
First taste of Europe was via Berlin, and boy was it a good first taste. Clean city, friendly people. Love the fact that they (and the whole of Europe in general from what I’ve seen) are environmentally friendly and cyclist friendly. Singapore has A LOT to learn in those areas.
Even their trains have specific wagons to carry bicycles. Would love to see such things in our MRTs.
Weimar + Dresden
Enroute to Prague, stopped by the sleepy towns of Weimar and Dresden for their art culture / historical buildings sightseeing.
Weimar was the birthplace of Bauhaus (yes I obviously learnt that from JE, hehe) so the Bauhaus museum was a must see. Found this really cool looking cradle with really functional design concepts applied to it. Circular frame for ease of rocking, low CG to prevent tipping over, mesh sides to keep the infant cool and primary colors to err… make the exterior not look too plain?
Spent just a brief amount of time here, but was sufficient to visit Prague Castle and wander around the city, comparing the differences in architecture of the buildings between the Old Town and the New Town. They said Budapest was the beautiful (major) city in Europe but I think Prague has a more authentic (rustic) feel to it. Perhaps it was the specific locations we wandered around, but nonetheless a beautiful city to get lost in.
Found out that Budapest is actually the concatenation of the names of the 2 sectors within the city center. Buda (the hilly side) and pest (the flatter side). Huge ass castle sat atop Castle Hill, but its a pity they almost completely renovated it thus loosing its old charm value.
City with a strong arts culture. Loved the futuristic looking train station too.
Concluded with a long, relatively scenic, train ride from Vienna to Munich.
Absolutely loved how environmentally friendly Germany is. Not because many people here cycle (actually I see a ton of BMWs and Mercedes around, but this is Germany so go figure) but they have dedicated recycling bins all around and the culture of recycling here is strong (you actually have to pay for plastic bags). Again much for Singapore to learn.
This supermarket we went to even had those recycling machines where you put in your plastic bottles and it spits out a coupon to offset purchases from the store. You can see it in the center of the pic. Our 2L mineral water bottle gave us 25 cents off! Hehe.
Ok! Update again later when I am settled down somewhere.
One item off the to do list.
OCBC Internship is drawing to a close.
Its been more fun and challenging then I originally expected (since my interviewers did say that I might not find the work there very ‘challenging’). I still recall being hesitant, in part due to the fact that the Risk Management department took me in as opposed to the Tech department (which known as Operations & Technology in OCBC) and in part due to my utter lack of background in this finance industry.
But sometimes you just have to jump out the window and grow wings on the way down.
Its really opened my eyes more towards the banking and finance industry (and to an extent the global financial situations) and coupled with a supervisor that’s interested in making sure I learn something more then just, for example, how to program SAS scripts and the like, its been a rewarding experience.
Planning (and budgeting) for exchange and the month long Europe backpacking escapade has been underway for a while now. Lots still not settled, but yes, the quote above seems apt for it.
OCBC’s so far been a heck of a ride. There’s nothing more humbling then looking around (technically I’m poking around I guess but same difference) and realising how much goes on inside a bank and the orders of magnitude in terms of assets that a bank has to balance.
Although the amount of programming I’m doing is rather minimal; (read: I’m not hammering away on the keyboard every single working day), I’d still say this ‘Internship’ is definitely worth it.
Saw a (now going viral) commencement speech on youtube. Since I’ve been almost living in a cave the past weeks, you’ve probably already seen it. But i’m embedding it below anyway.
5 weeks of internship left in OCBC’s Risk Portfolio Management department, and about 8 till the next exciting leg of education in a foreign land begins.
Lets carpe the hell out of the diem
Today is the 9th of June.