On mid-March, my manager asked me to give him my passport details in preparation for a possibility to go to the Netherlands. On that same day, the trip was confirmed and my passport details were sent to our counterpart in Rotterdam where our company’s office in the Netherlands was located. At that point I felt unsure if I can manage in 2 aspects: if I can handle the pressure of work brought by the project I will be doing, and if I can travel solo and survive for 2 weeks in Europe all by myself. I would not deny that the idea gave me butterflies in my stomach at first. I was lucky though, from originally last week of March departure, it was moved to last week of April, which gave me ample time to condition myself and research about the Netherlands and Europe in general.
In order to go to Europe, one has to have a visa. As for me, since it is company-initiated, I got Business visa from the Netherlands Embassy. The process of getting the visa is simple–just prepare all documents, pay for the fees, and go to the embassy for personal appearance. I got my visa after 4 working days (which was fast and awesome) that it was just in time for my scheduled departure.
To prepare for my trip, I researched about the Netherlands in terms of transportation, culture, food, traditions, and the possible activities I can do during my free time. I downloaded apps on basic Dutch phrases, famous attractions, train and metro maps, world clock, and weather. I believe it is better to prepare for the worst case scenario–getting lost and not finding someone who can speak English. Also, I conditioned myself mentally and emotionally by reminding myself that I can rely only on myself, so might as well be alert and have presence of mind.
Currently, as I am writing this blog, I am in the plane going to Amsterdam. My journey so far had been rough, but still I was able to manage somehow. Sad to say but I almost missed my flight due to poor service in the Manila airport–lack of structure in the process and no process improvements in place, and airport staff not assisting and further nowhere to been seen. I even saw a staff sleeping and I woke her up to ask for help since I cannot find any other staff member and I might miss my flight because of the long and unmanageable queue. She said, “wala po tayong magagawa ganyan po talaga ang process (we cannot do anything since that is the process).” It was really sad that the service and assistance I expected was not met at all. I was just lucky that kind-hearted passengers allowed me to go first in the line that I was able to catch up. I was the last one to board by the way. Whew, just in time. I thank God and His good people for helping me.
As soon as I arrive in Amsterdam 6 hours from now, everything would really sink in–I am here in Europe! I do hope everything will be smooth in terms of my train ride in going to my hotel in Rotterdam (the manager in our Rotterdam office will pick me up at Schiphol Amsterdam Airport, big thanks to him). Travelling solo is a good experience, and as early as now I have already learned a lot of things. I am looking forward to learning more in the days to come, as well as enjoying my stay in the Netherlands.