One Year In The Netherlands.

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21 August 2012 marks exactly one year of my life in The Netherlands.

I have moved from Breda to Amsterdam sometime in July, and I might say moving to Amsterdam is the biggest thing that happened to me in this one year. But looking back at all the details on my Facebook timeline (okay, I guess timeline isn’t that bad after all), I don’t think I can place any experience I had in The Netherlands higher than any others. They are all equally cool, fun and precious.

But I definitely have to say, my time at Materia eating lunch with my colleagues at the lunch table, sped up my adaptations to having bread for lunch (or as any meal for that matter). Although bread, ham, cheese and milk still look like breakfast fare to me, I have subconsciously adapted it to my daily meal routine, especially when I get lazy to cook, or am in a hurry to somewhere. And surprisingly, I even found myself making better looking sandwiches worthy of packing to the office or the library where I work! See picture above. Looks pretty fanciful huh!

I think this sandwich really epitomizes the values I love about the Dutch. It’s easy, healthy, fresh, cheap, efficient, colorful and open to endless creativity.

Yes, open-minded yet down to earth. That’s essentially Dutch, in one sentence, for me.

Thank you, Holland. You made my dreams real.

Het Rijk van de Keizer

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Holland has a way to make me lost for a while, which also makes every travel a unique surprise.

Hidden behind the woods and in the grasslands is a small village filled with artists, designers and people from other trades in a fairytale garden.

In my mostly bling-y and glitzy narrow world view of art/design, here I listened to a designer talk in his humble studio, about his humble designs and principles, in a humble environment.

The people here work quietly and passionately onย their trades, in their offices, under the sun, in the garden, in the woods, eating, playing, building things and walking the dogs. What a refreshing change, and perhaps all workplaces in the future should be like this. My dream.

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Biking 2.0

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I had to attend an important appointment this morning in the west of Breda today. It is about 17km away from where I live, and about 25 minutes by bike.

Never been to that part of Breda. With my poor sense of direction and the drizzling rain, in an unfamiliar place; that familiar sense of worry in being lost in the rain swept over as I pushed my first step down on the right pedal of my bike. Crossed my fingers, I hoped to be on time :S

I am glad to announce that I graduated from the school of spatial orientation. (Well, at least on the beginner’s level, maybe.) I biked with my paper map on the left hand, and never once I felt lost. I found my way around really well and eventually arrived on time, in the Dutch drizzle. So, yesss… with all my might… Biking 2.0 achieved!

On the way back, I kept the map away for the scenery. Although the west looked really industrial, I could say the people there made up for it. Almost everyone gave a nod or a smile. Really friendly, really nice.

I think Biking 3.0 will be… biking hands-free; on a larger and taller bike; so I can really pull a luggage on the road. Good for traveling and moving house ๐Ÿ™‚

Beauty in Cross-Cultural Exchanges

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A Dutch colleague tells me how he really enjoys eating hot spicy food under the big sweltering sun in Thailand and I went “No way!”

I tell him that I really enjoy eating ice-cream under the white wintry skies in Holland (cos it doesn’t melt!) and he laughed.

From these conversations, I really enjoy that we find an alternative story to complaints we make or things we don’t find beautiful or perhaps taken for granted. And so to hold judgements and appreciate more…

Perfect lesson because now I have to spend my Sunday transcribing interviews… keeping my chin up!

Love, from rainy Sunday in Breda.

No Limits.

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I never knew that I liked ironies;

Until I saw this at the place where I work now.

Because freedom is always, mostly, about having no boundaries;

But this speaks of freedom within boundaries.

Think out of the box, play in the box.

Find infiniteness in finiteness.

An encouraging inspiration right now;

When my room-seeking adventures in Holland seem to be meeting some corners :/

But one day, I will love to ask Plexwood, why this was designed to be.

On my interview list, on my interview list.