Nutsbedrijven

The work visit in Nutsbedrijven Maastricht (The Netherlands) opened my eyes and mind to a lot of things. The following are the things that caught my attention:

(a) Grid distribution for utility and other services can be rolled into one exceptional business;

(b) Nature can be an excellent source of electricity like the sun and the wind;

(c) Although merging a big and small organization is a good step for expansion, changing the organizational set up is a one tough job even if it’s done slowly;

(d) Customer intimacy is one great factor for successful business operation.
The customer satisfaction programs of the company are coupled with social responsibility. Thus, the value added services they offer not only benefits the customers themselves but also the entire community;

(e) Methodical way of doing things through multi channel strategy makes business more competitive; and

(f) Being successful in a business can go hand in hand with protecting the environment.

The work visit offered new ideas which had considerably improved my perception on treating clients, subordinates and colleagues. The work relationship, work styles, work techniques, organizational climate and innovations portrayed at the visit is definitely worthy of emulation.

Belgium

One of the favorite destination of our group during the weekend was Belgium. Liege, Belgium is a convenient place to visit since it’s just a 45-minute travel via train from Maastricht (Netherlands) where we were based. We all have soft spot for Liege because it’s the place where we spent our first weekend in Europe.

We like to roam around the place without map, check out shops, and take photos. Whenever we couldn’t find our way, we ask for directions from the youngsters because majority of the old folks only speak French.

Our second travel to Belgium was a work visit (a combination of “work” and pleasure). Our lecturer served as our guide and the transportation was provided by Maastricht School of Management. We get to visit a factory, shops and not to forget the red light district. The factory stopover provided a great insight on how the internal procedure work and among other things.

Although Belgium shops have somewhat similar structure with Netherlands, they have a greater selection of items being sold.

Also, it’s in Belgium where I tasted the best chocolate ever! Both the dark and milk chocolate are incredibly delectable! It’s thin, not too soft and not too hard. I’ve been looking for those type of chocolate for ages yet it’s super elusive… maybe, it’s only available in Belgium. Sigh. Anyway, I’m not a fan of fries and waffles however, Belgian fries and waffles are incredibly irresistible and savory! It turns out, fries and waffles originated in Belgium. It’s a good to know information eh? :p

A “tour” to the red light district (a.k.a. prostitution den) culminates our trip to Belgium. To be clear, we were not suppose to go there but the guys in the group practically begged our lecturers to bring us there. After several discussions and “negotiations”, they reluctantly gave in. 😀

We went around the red light district as a group so NO hanky panky. It’s my first time to visit such place and my heart bleeds when I saw a pregnant girl, putting up a strong front and still working. She’s with the other ladies standing in a display window wearing seductive attire (mostly flimsy underwear). The display window is similar to the area where mannequins are placed in front of a shop. It would be great to listen to their stories and know the reason why they chose that path. Hmmmm…

On a lighter note, I was looking for European gigolos in a display window for my to feast eyes on but they’re nowhere to be found! -_- I was totally disappointed! If guys have the opportunity to stare at ladies, ladies should also be given a chance to stare at guys. :p

With all the bantering and teasing, the trip ended on a happy note…

Next stop, Brussels. 😀

Luxembourg

Weekend was meant for gallivanting after a nerve wracking and brain torture weekday,.:) After the Paris adventure (click here to read the blog entry, “exploring Paris”), this time we opted to go to Luxembourg. It never crossed my mind that I will be able to set foot to the richest country in the world (2010)! Whoa!

From Netherlands (Maastricht), we travelled to Germany (forgot which city) via train. From Germany, we boarded the train going to Luxembourg. The travel time was not as long as the Paris trip.

In a couple of hours, we reached Luxembourg. Luxembourg reminds me of Baguio City (a.k.a. Summer Capital of the Philippines). Flowers were everywhere and there’s also a distinct pine tree scent. The scenery radiates a serene and peaceful feeling. It’s the perfect place to rejuvenate after too much stress from the instant (click here to read the blog entry, “instant”) world. I wonder how Luxembourg maintains its natural ambiance…

After a lengthy walk and sightseeing, we stopped near the bridge to take a breather and enjoy the view. The calming effect was really fantastic! To save money, we brought our lunch and had a feast near the church under the tree.  It’s like having a picnic in Burnham Park in Baguio City, Philippines.

It was a such short trip but the most relaxing one. I hope I can go there again someday (even better if I will be with someone special) but for a longer period so that I can explore the country more.

Until then!

travel for “free”

Who doesn’t want to travel without spending a penny on airfare, accommodation, and pocket money? Come on! The clamor for free stuff is like a common denominator for most homosapiens (if not all!).

In any case, hitting the jackpot from a lucky draw or lottery, receiving a travel gift from a friend or relative, and flying for a business trip are some of the options to travel for free.

Applying for a scholarship is another alternative. Fat chance? Nah… As they say, there’s no harm in trying…that is speaking from experience. :p You betcha! It was one ordinary day when an opportunity knocked unexpectedly.

Although when I saw the notice, the due date shows that I’ve already missed the deadline. Without any hesitation, I still gave it a shot! Good thing the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) in the Philippines accepted my late application.

It may sound crazy but the moment I saw the notice, I had this gut feeling that it’s meant for me. Don’t get me wrong…. It was not a smooth sailing process. Along the way, doubts and hindrances occurred every now and then; yet, I blocked the negative elements and focused in the application.

Below are the steps that I went through:
1. Department Head – Letter of Application Approval and Recommendation
2. University President – Letter of Application Approval and Recommendation
3. Gather required documents and submit application to NEDA main office.
4. Take and pass the written examination in NEDA main office.
5. NEDA shortlists the applicants from all over the Philippines. Alloted slots per country will determine how many will be chosen.
6. NEDA will then notify the selected applicant to apply in the partner school of the sponsoring country. In my case, it was Maastricht School of Management (MSM) in the Netherlands (a.k.a. Holland).
7. MSM selects from the applicants from all over the world.
8. The chosen applicant will then receive a conditional admission letter from MSM.
9. Submit required documents (including the conditional admission letter) to Netherlands Fellowship Program (NFP).

TheCuriousMe Note:
*** My documents reached the Netherlands embassy after the cut off time, so they advised me to request for deferment from MSM.
MSM deferred my application and gave me a slot for the following year.

10. NFP will do a worldwide selection.
(According to our Program Manager, there were more than 500 applicants from all over the world for the Managerial Control and Management Information System (MCMIS) course)
11. NFP picked 15 participants for the MCMIS.
(Participants came from Thailand, Bhutan, Philippines, Nigeria, South Africa, South America, Palestine, Euthopia… – I forgot the others :p)
12. Process documents and apply for visa then fly via Royal Dutch Airlines (KLM).

Sounds easy? How I wish. Sigh… It was VERY tough. Aside from going through a rigid screening, completing the needed documents, being deferred for one year… receiving hurtful words from the one of the university signatories was the “main attraction”. She gave me a mouthful… specifically stating: “you’re not qualified”, “you will not get the scholarship”, etc.

I didn’t even know how I managed to snag the scholarship. Let’s just say, no matter how many struggles we go through, and the light of hope gets dimmer and dimmer, if it’s meant to be… it’s meant to be. Aja!

casino

It was freezing but that did not dampen our spirit to look around Maastricht (Netherlands) and check out shops. On impulse, we took a bus and ended up going to Germany. Since we were within the vicinity, we decided to go to Drielandenpunt (a.k.a. Three-Country Point). Drielandenpunt is the location of the border of Netherlands, Belgium, and Germany.

After taking photos, we stayed a bit in Aachen (Germany) and walk around. When we can no longer take the cold weather, we decided to enter the Casino and play while making ourselves warm.

All my friends were able to get in the casino smoothly and when it’s my turn, the guard blocked me and asked for proof of identification. He further mentioned that only 18 years old and above are allowed to go inside (I was already in my 20s at that time).

My friends were laughing so hard while throwing me teasing expressions. I grinned nervously and showed my passport. After a moment, the guard smiled back and allowed me to enter the casino. I opted to play the slot machine and immediately stopped when I lost. I know, I’m a penny-pincher. :p

On our way back to the hotel, my friends were still laughing about what happened and kept on teasing me. One of them even tried to mimic the guard. It was indeed a funny moment.

It made me wonder why a lot of people often mistook me as below 18 years old. It happened to me a couple of times that’s why I always bring with me proof of identification just in case it’s necessary for me to show it.

I guess, that’s the disadvantage of being petite with a baby face to boot! In any case, I consider it as a blessing because a lot of people spends a couple of grands just to have a youthful look.

For me, all I need to do is smile and the youthful glow will radiate. :p