July 2016

6 August 2016

This month I had my latest Samwise Gamgee moment of “If I take one more step, it’ll be the farthest away from home I’ve ever been.” That farthest step lies somewhere in the Hungarian countryside.

 

My company was gracious enough to send my colleagues and I to Budapest, Hungary for a month of IT training for two and a half weeks. There we learned broadly about Big Data–from warehousing to reporting and database design to governance. It was good to fill some of the gaps I had in my technical know-how and hone expertise in SQL and Tableau. We also saw a few of the company’s manufacturing sites, located in the countryside . In addition to the time in Budapest, I explored other parts of Europe before and after, as this was my first time leaving North America.

 

I flew into Paris and saw the usual tourist attractions for a day, took a train to Zurich and visited a lake and design museum, and took a night train to Budapest. While there, I thoroughly enjoyed the bathhouses and was surprised to find zero nude people. Pokemon Go helped me discover several small landmarks on both the Buda and Pest sides of the city. There was a lot of beautiful old architecture–which was evident across Europe. After training concluded, I was nickel-and-dimed (or the Forint equivalent) on Wizz-Air en route to Rome. While in Rome, I visited more touristy things–Trevi Fountain, the Colosseum, and the Vatican–and ate pasta at several family-owned restaurants. Although each of these restaurants were owned by different families, they had a franchise feeling of sameness–same dishes, same prices, same tablecloths, same complimentary bread. Europe, as a whole, was an alright experience. The public transit was very good, seeing as it was available, timely, and affordable. The food was also good–healthy and tasty and served with an ample amount of time to enjoy it. The architecture was old and historic–aesthetically nice but filled with the problems that accompany it: leaky pipes, spotty electricity, and poor air quality within. Most cities were walkable, but decentralized to the point of sameness throughout. Most buildings were low (less than 10 stories) and identical to their neighbors. Generally, the lifestyle was lame. People sat around at cafes and restaurants most of the day and had subpar service. Elevator floor buttons were labelled sensibly with integers (-2, -1, 0, 1, 2) and the date and time formats (21:00 – 12 July 2016, for instance) jived with my logic. Europe wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t great either. It was different, but it was still the Western World. And on that front, I prefer America.

 

After flying home to Greenville–with logistically irritating stops in Charlotte and Atlanta–I packed my apartment and tied loose ends. I then moved to New Orleans to start my new assignment. Along the way, I stopped at Florida’s highest point and followed the Gulf Coast through Alabama and Mississippi.

 

There were a lot of new experiences this month. I look forward to some time to reflect on them.