Salamat, Paalam, Mabuhay!2014-05-02 Philippines
Salamat, paalam, mabuhay. It is with these three Filipino words that I would like to conclude our two-week trip around the world (even if we only stayed in two countries, we actually circumnavigated the world by plane!).
It is an expression of gratitude, of thanks. As we end our trip around the world, Alyssa and I would like to thank Schneider Electric for giving us this once-in-a-lifetime experience of having an all-expense-paid and worry-free trip to two countries of our choice: USA and Denmark. From helping us with our Visa application, accommodating emergency changes in schedule, paying for all our food, accommodation, and travel expenses, planning our activities and making sure we had great company, promptly responding to our needs and concerns, to the last-minute rebooking of our flight back to the Philippines and the extra night we had to spend in the hotel in Denmark – we had nothing to worry about. All were well taken care of, and we thank Schneider Electric for that – especially the people who made all these possible. Our special thanks go particularly to Melissa Golden and Anshika Tandon of SE Global Talent Acquisition; Andrea Franco, Liz Henderson, and Line Orloff of SE Human Resources in Boston, Rhode Island, and Denmark, respectively; and Trixie Magalit and Gerilyn Baltan of SE Philippines – for spending their precious time, bearing all the stress, and exerting all their efforts to make sure that we have a stress-free, enjoyable, unforgettable, and meaningful trip abroad. To them, to our newfound friends who spent some good times with us in the two countries, and all the people behind our trip, our heartfelt gratitude for everything! Our warmest salamat!
In English, it is often roughly translated as farewell or goodbye, although it does not really capture the word’s essence. Paalam means letting the other party know you are about to do something with the intention of seeking the blessing of the other. And in farewell scenarios, it is used to let the other know that you are about to leave, hoping that the other will wish you the grace of having a safe trip wherever you go. Although it does not guarantee a return, it does not have the finality of a goodbye. After the one-day delay of our stay in Denmark, yesterday we finally said paalam.
It means “long live!” but is often expressed to welcome people to one’s place. It is also said as an expression of strong admiration and wishing of goodwill. Now that we’re back to the Philippines, I feel a strong sense of coming home, an end to a feeling of longing for a place where nowhere else will feel like, an atmosphere of a community welcoming me back, saying Mabuhay. Now that we conclude the two weeks of unforgettable experiences, we look back to Schneider Electric and the people of the United States and Denmark, saying Mabuhay!
Our journey with Schneider Electric does not end here. Alyssa and I are about to join the company in May and October. We look forward to being part of a global company, a family that has always taken great care of us since we joined the Go Green in the City Competition in 2013. We look forward to take part in the company’s commitment for a sustainable environment by “making the most of your energy”.
A Morning in the National Museum of Denmark2014-05-01 Copenhagen, Denmark
Tick Tock! The time is ticking and we are about to leave Copenhagen. We finished packing our things and checked out from the hotel. But there were some stops we wanted to drop by before Line will meet us at the hotel and take us to the airport.
Line recommended that we visit the National Museum of Denmark before we leave. It was not that far from the hotel. I think it was a 15-minute walk from the hotel. On the way to the museum we got to pass by Christiansborg Palace. They offer tours to the palace reception areas and stable. But we didn’t avail of the tour because we didn’t have enough time anymore. But we did get to check the area that was open to the public.
We finally got to the museum. They have different exhibits on display such as The Danish Prehistory, The Danish Middle Ages and Renaissance, Stories of Denmark, The Royal Collection of Coins and Medals, Ethnographic Collections. They also have a temporary exhibit entitled “Girl with parasol” which is an exhibit of photographs that represent a sublime snapshot of Exotic Japan.
What I found fascinating was the different interior design they have for different periods and different classes. The details of the carvings were just exquisite and you could see how lavish and luxurious the lifestyle of the rich during those eras was. Another thing caught our attention was the massive collection they have of religious articles – treasures from the sacristies, carvings from ivory, paintings and images of saints, Mary and Jesus. We were able to go around the entire museum but I think a little more time would have helped to allow us to absorb more information about Denmark and its history. Oh yeah! They also had an exhibit about the mighty Vikings.
Around half past twelve, we headed back to the hotel. Line drove us to the airport and we said the inevitable farewells thinking that it was our last day in Denmark. But there was an issue about our transit we were not able to get on the flight we were supposed to be in. The issue was resolved thanks to the efforts of people from SE Philippines (Ms. Gerilyn Baltan and Ms. Trixie Magalit) and SE Global Talent Acquisition (Melissa Golden and Anshika Tandon). We had to stay one more night in Copenhagen.
Still in Copenhagen,
We heard about how people make money by returning plastic bottles and soda cans. I think this is a very good way to engage consumers to be involved in the process of recycling these containers. When you buy a bottled drink, you are actually charged an amount. This amount is returned to you when you bring back the bottle. I had a couple of bottles with me and returned it to the 7-eleven in the airport. For the few hours we stayed there a couple of tourists must have not known about it and left the bottles lying around. We picked them up and got enough Kroners to purchase something. It was a good way to let time pass while we were in the airport. I think it is also a good way to show how the system they have in Denmark is really environment friendly.
More of Copenhagen2014-04-30 Copenhagen, Denmark
Before our flight back to the Philippines tomorrow, we found time to do some souvenir shopping at Strøget, the main shopping area in Copenhagen. Dedicated only to shoppers, cars are not allowed to pass by the area. It has a wide variety of shops ranging from souvenir stores to boutiques of famous brands such as Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Burberry, and Tommy Hilfiger, among others. For the young-at-heart, it would be hard to miss the Lego (for those who don’t know, Lego started and is based in Denmark!) and Disney stores also in that area. To add to the experience, we were in the right place at the right time when the Royal Guards had some sort of a military parade and passed by the shopping area! On our way to Nyhavn, where we were to meet Line, we passed by Kongens Nytorv (“The King’s New Square”) where there was a flea market of various collector’s items, antiques, souvenir items, and other collectibles. It was tempting to purchase some items, but we did not.
Since Line wanted us to have a somehow complete Danish experience, she treated us at a restaurant named Skipperkroen for a Danish lunch along Nyhavn! For the six days we have been in Denmark, it was quite noticeable that Danish cuisine is far different from the typical Filipino/Asian food. While rice is a common sight in Asian plates, a typical Danish meal would have rugbrød (rye bread). Lunch is usually cold, which typically begins with fish (usually pickled herring), followed by other meat (e.g. pork, chicken), and ends with cheese and some fruits. Traditional lunch would be smørrebrød, an open rye-bread sandwich, where slices of cold meat, fish, spreads, and some vegetables are laid on the bread.
After we had our fill, we went off for a canal cruise to do sightseeing in Copenhagen. Initially constructed for trade and military purposes, the canal has become advantageous for tourism due to its strategic location. We saw from the boat much of Copenhagen’s best tourist spots accompanied by the bits of history from a tour guide. The feast for the eyes was then followed by another feast for the taste buds. We went back to Nyhavn to eat Copenhagen’s famous ice cream. I had cookies and cream, pistachio, cherry, and strawberry for my scoops! Such a sweet treat!
Sightseeing not done yet, for after the boat tour we were off to the Rundetaarn (Round Tower) to have a panoramic view of the city. It was somehow reminiscent of the experience we had at the Prudential Tower in Boston – but without the elevator and audio guide. It gave a different flavor to the experience in a way that evokes a historical feeling. We were able to see from a different and wider perspective the magnificent buildings and streets we used to pass by in the past days. On our way to the viewing deck (through a spiral ramp) were some exhibitions of Danish art and history. It used to be an astronomical observatory until the 19th century when the University of Copenhagen decided to transfer its observatory functions to Østervold Observatory. In 1928, it was re-commissioned to become a public observatory for amateur astronomers and general public.
After a sumptuous dinner at Royal Grill, we dropped by the Happy Wall at Kongens Nytorv to take some pictures with a colorful background where we spelled our names and some words.
With all that we saw and we experienced today, indeed it was a day of getting to know Copenhagen more. As we leave tomorrow, we can say that we were able to know and experience a lot about Copenhagen and Denmark in the few days that we have been here. However, despite such fact, we know there is a lot more to discover.
From the happiest place on Earth,
Thank God It’s Friday!2014-04-29 Birkerød, Denmark
Employees would normally look forward to the weekend and to get some time off from work. But before the week is done we got to visit another Schneider Electric site located in Birkerød, a town located a few miles to the north of Copenhagen. We got to experience activities they hold on Fridays, or at least the last Friday of each month. And also, we got to hang out with VIEs (Volontariat International en Entreprise), who are French nationals that are assigned for a year or two in Denmark.
To jumpstart the day, Christian Egeberg, an HR Business Partner in SE Denmark, accompanied us to the 7-Technologies which is now part of Schneider Electric. The company was acquired a few years back and is mainly focused on software development. They develop software to promote optimization of operations and minimize energy consumption in terms of operating networks of waterways. Their line of products includes Aquis, Termis and IGSS. Aquis is a hydraulic modeling tool that helps simulate the flow and pressure in the water distribution network while Termis simulates the flow, pressure and heating. The IGGS (interactive Graphical SCADA System) is used for monitoring and controlling industrial processes.
One thing unique about this SE facility that we got to visit is that it is has a very homey feel and it does not appear to be an office from the outside. They have this practice to eat breakfast together every Friday. So when we got there, we got to share a meal with them prior to the tour. We were a fairly international bunch of people seated for breakfast. Christian was from Denmark, Martin from France, Amin from Iran, John was from USA while Lorenz and I were from the Philippines. It was also interesting that when we got our food and went to our seats, we found shots of an “unknown drink.” Apparently it was Gammel Dansk (Old Danish), a drink that was traditionally drunk by Danes at certain festive occasions associated with breakfast.
After eating breakfast, Martin showed us around. First we visited the team in charge of software development. Then we headed to where the project and technical support team was working. For our last stop, we got to visit the Stuxureware Lab where are breakfast buddies were working. Mads explained to us how they are integrating SE products with the IGSS, Termis and Aquis to provide a general solution. We also got to meet Lars who is heading that team located in Birkerød.
For lunch, we headed to Ballerup where they were having barbeque. Christian mentioned to us that the chef in their cafeteria would normally have barbeque when the weather is good and today the sun was shining bright (and it is not humid like the weather we have in the Philippines). After lunch, we were introduced to Arthur, a VIE assigned in purchasing. He explained to us his work and the VIE program under the French government. There are a couple of VIEs assigned in Ballerup.
We just had a very relaxing afternoon enjoying the warmth of the sun over a cup of tea in the garden. At around 3 PM, we headed to the basement where Arthur showed us their gym. They also have this thing called “Friday Bar” where every last Friday of the month employees are invited to chill at the basement where they have a recreational space that has a pool table and where they could play table tennis. They serve beer, soda and other beverages during the Friday Bar. I think it is a good way to wind down after a long week and at the same time get to meet colleagues.
After the Friday Bar, we went back to Copenhagen. We stopped by Arthur’s place before heading to Christianhavn to see the Church of Our Lord Savior and other sites nearby. We were supposed to bike around the city but I was too short for the bike and I just don’t think it is smart for me to take the risk and meet an accident. So we rode a bus and took the metro instead.
After walking around Christianhavn, we met up with the other VIEs – Sylvie, Alice and Charlie – and a couple of their friends Sophie and Bastian. On our way there, we walked by the harbor and the place where we ate at was by the harbor which offered a really great view at dusk. We had dinner and drinks and called it a night. :)
Mildly sun-baked yet having a chill time,
Farther and Further2014-04-28 Kolding, Denmark
One facility will not be enough to define the presence of Schneider Electric in Denmark. That is why we went all the way to the other end of the country and dropped by the company’s facilities in Ringsted and Kolding. The one in Ringsted is a manufacturing facility for products like switches, and electric and network sockets. The other facility in Kolding is dedicated for Research and Development (R&D) for the IT Business (ITB) of Schneider Electric.
Flemming of the Ringsted facility gave us an overview of the operations in the factory and toured us around it. We walked through the production line and observed the process of manufacturing switches and sockets from molding to assembly. It was fascinating to see the collective effort of machines, robots, and personnel to come up with quality products under the Schneider Electric brand. These products, often mounted on our walls, are usually undervalued despite their significance in our daily lives. Seeing how they are made and the hard work employees exert to deliver these products to us has made me appreciate these rather simple electrical equipment even more. Before leaving, Flemming handed out to us some LAN sockets as souvenirs.
More than two hundred kilometers from Copenhagen is the ITB R&D facility in Kolding. Alyssa and I presented our project and Go Green in the City experiences to good number of employees. With Henrik as our guide, we visited a data center room and got to see a software that monitors data center performance and ambient conditions. We also visited the testing room for upcoming Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS) models, courtesy of Henning. Before leaving, we likewise visited workstations of the intelligent bunch of people who do research and engineering work for the further development of Schneider Electric products. Gitte from HR also gave us some insights into HR management in an R&D facility such as the one they are in.
On our way to Kolding and back, we passed by the Storebæltsforbindelsen (Great Belt Fixed Link), which is also known as the “East Bridge”. It consists of the world’s third longest main span suspension bridge and a railway tunnel. We have also learned that along with this engineering feat is another one that connects Copenhagen to Sweden. But what amazed us is the fact that the bridge “disappears” midway, so that vehicles and trains pass through a tunnel under the sea to get to Sweden. Although we might not have the opportunity to pass by the latter, we can confidently say that Danes generally have the passion for efficiency. No wonder Schneider Electric has an overwhelming presence in such country.
Our trips today, no matter how far, have shown us how Schneider Electric never settles for less and always goes further, for the greater convenience and satisfaction of its clients – much like Denmark, for its people.
Going the distance,
Spinning Upside Down2014-04-27 Copenhagen, Denmark
The day was almost over but we had one last thing on our itinerary. Mette was kind enough to accompany us on our visit to the Tivoli Gardens. The weather was not cooperating with us and it was drizzling but we still headed to Tivoli. We walked from our hotel since it was not that far from where we were staying. At the same time, it was an opportunity to get to see more of the nooks and crannies of Copenhagen.
You might be wondering why I had to make a separate entry about a garden. Well, it isn’t a typical garden. Upon entering we were greeted with a ballet performance that was being staged. Mette mentioned that most of the ballets staged in Tivoli are based on the works of Hans Christian Andersen. We then strolled around and saw how beautiful the landscape is inside. From the outside, all you could see are the rides that are insanely tall.
We were afraid that they would stop the operations of the different rides due to the inclement weather. But luckily most of the rides that Lorenz and I were planning to try were still open. Another good thing about our Tivoli visit was the short queues. Mette hooked us up with multiple ride tickets for the different attractions in Tivoli. There were single tickets being sold. But we decided to get the ride-all-you-can band so that we can try as many rides as we could or even ride a specific ride for a couple of times.
So we started off with The Roller Coaster. It was apparently built in 1914. I do have to say that the surge of speed you feel in this ride is a good warm up for the other rides like The Demon, The Golden Tower and Vertigo. We dubbed it as the baby rollercoaster in comparison with The Demon.
The Demon on the other hand had triple loops that would just allow you to feel the exhilaration due to the speed. With the different twists, turns and drops, this was one of the best rollercoaster I’ve been on. Lorenz tried not to scream but he eventually did because of the sudden drop and the loops while I was letting out my feelings by just laughing. I seriously like these crazy rides in amusement parks. Even prior to riding The Demon, I spotted where they are taking the pictures from so I managed to just smile at the camera (or at least look decent in the photo). We sort of rode The Demon thrice just to get more photos and make the most of the unlimited rides.
We then proceeded to The Golden Tower which I feel was the most intimidating ride. Tivoli officially describes the 63-meter tower as “the ultimate toughness test for both genders.” The ride up to the top of the tower gave us a great perspective of Copenhagen. The view from the top of the tower was just breathtaking but it was also nerve-wracking that at any moment we’ll be dropped. Funniest thing was that I really screamed when we experienced the drop. But the feeling didn’t actually match what I thought it would feel like. So I was just laughing and Mette said she could hear my laughter after our screams. I say that this ride was a mind game. You just have to calm down and not get psyched.
The final ride we tried was the Vertigo. For this ride, I suggest that you go to Youtube after you have read this entire blog, look up “Vertigo Tivoli” and watch videos of how the ride actually goes. This was my favorite ride. It makes a lot of people sick. But if you just know where to look and apply the concept of physics so as not to get motion sickness, then you’d be fine. Unfortunately, Lorenz didn’t feel quite well after disembarking the ride. But I did ride it a second time around. So I got to experience both the forward and the backward motion of the rotation. The coolest thing about this ride would have to be getting to see Copenhagen upside down. The most geeky thing I did after the ride was Google-ing how many Gs would a person actually experience while riding the Vertigo. They said you can feel up to 5.2 Gs while on this ride. And let’s just say that it was a good idea to have dinner after trying the different rides.
We left Tivoli to have dinner somewhere. Mette wanted to take us to The Standard for some Italian food. But since we had Italian food the day before, we found ourselves in Wokshop, which is a Thai restaurant, instead. The food was great and the oriental food made us feel a bit closer to home. And yes, we got some noodles, rice and loads of curry sauce.
After dinner we headed back to our hotel and called it a day.
Feeling hyped and exhilarated,
We passed by the Lego store along the main street and I can’t wait to visit that shop!
What’s up, Ballerup?2014-04-26 Ballerup, Denmark
We spent most of the day at Schneider Electric in Ballerup but we also got to do some very interesting things at the same time. We kicked off the day by having a short presentation about our project and our Go Green in the City experience. Only a bunch of people got to attend, since some of the people are still catching up with work or are still on vacation because of the Easter holidays. But it is always a pleasure to share our ideas and our experiences.
Afterwards, Line scheduled a meeting for us with Hanne in the same room where we presented. Hanne gave a presentation for us to get to know Schneider Electric Denmark and how they are strategizing to meet their goals. To add to that, Hanne also gave a brief introduction about Human Resources (HR) in Denmark and in the Nordic Region. I guess it would be a shame if I didn’t ask for HR strategies and related questions since I will be joining the HR team in the Philippines after this trip. To further enhance our knowledge on the HR operations, we were able to have another meeting with Morten who is working as the Manager for Shared Services. I also got to ask him questions that might be of help while pursuing a career in HR and at the same time making use of my technical background.
During the day, we were also able to visit Denmark Technical University (DTU). We were able to visit the workspace of the Solar Decathlon team representing Denmark for this year’s competition. Schneider Electric is sponsoring the team who are set to go to Paris and build the house. The competition is set to take place June – July. Interesting how there will be two global competitions that Schneider Electric is involved in for the month of June as the global finals for Go Green in the City 2014 is set to happen this June 17 – 20, 2014. Hurray for more energy efficiency efforts!
We also went to Tivoli Gardens with Mette but I’ll tell you about it in another blog because that experience is worth its own space in this blog series. ;)
Checking in from Ballerup,
On our way back to Ballerup from DTU, we got to pass by the site where they are currently working to build an energy efficient office for Schneider Electric Denmark. Having heard the plans regarding the colocation that Jens presented to us yesterday, it is very interesting to actually get to see the site. Based on the plans, in terms of efficiency and aesthetics, I am excited for SE Denmark. I hope we could visit Denmark again and see the plans come to a reality.
Now That’s Efficient2014-04-25 Copenhagen, Denmark
“Make the most of your energy,” so goes Schneider Electric’s battlecry. That perfectly encapsulates how our second day in Denmark went, which is the first day of planned activities. Being a hub for Research and Development (R&D) in Europe, Schneider Electric Denmark, through its acquired company Lauritz Knudsen, appears to be an interesting site for us to visit as engineering graduates. We were able to have an overview of the R&D products and operations in the facility as well as the plans for the soon-to-be the new Schneider Electric building in Denmark. We were also able to tour around a few places in Copenhagen during our break time.
We finally met Line, the one primarily in charge of accommodating us in this Scandinavian Kingdom. Knowing that we are engineering graduates, she said she tailored the Denmark experience to be in line with our educational background, interests, and future work in Schneider Electric. That would be in addition, of course, to the planned sight-seeing and tourist activities she has lined up for us!
She introduced us to her colleague, Christian (who will also be with us in the next few days), and to Jesper, an engineer working for Wiser smart home technology. Jesper toured us around the R&D building and showed us testing facilities, engineers’ work areas, and demo units. He gave particular attention to his field of expertise, the Wiser smart home technology. He demonstrated how energy consumption can properly be monitored through such technology in a very user-friendly manner, even using mobile electronic devices to monitor and control appliances! What also fascinated us was the fact that those advanced technologies had hardware, which looked very sleek and stylish. We were told that they do not only invest in the perfection of engineering behind such technologies but also in aesthetics, as a part of a complete presentable package. Indeed, it was a sci-fi movie technology that has now become a reality!
We then went to a stress test facility underground, where a young employee only a year older than us, Robert, toured us around. He has been assigned to monitor the stress testing every so often. After lunch, Jens, a specialist in energy efficiency and the project manager of the soon-to-be new Schneider Electric building, shared with us his and his team’s best practices in doing energy audits, proposing energy management strategies, and initiating actions to make their facility the best example of efficient energy management. He noted that a lot of energy efficiency plans are set to be implemented in the new Schneider Electric facility to be opened in February 2015.
Afterwards, we went back to the hotel for a while and took a walk to the nearby Rosenborg Castle, The Marble Church, and Amalienborg Castle. Such time was supposed to be spent for resting but we thought it would be more efficient to make use of the limited time to walk around the city. Too bad Rosenborg Castle was already closed at that time so we were not able to see the crown jewels. However, we were lucky enough to drop by Amalienborg Castle just in time for the ceremony of the changing of guards!
After the short castle sight-seeing, we had dinner with Line and Christian at an Italian Restaurant. With delectable pizzas on our table, I thought we were missing something: chili sauce. When we asked for chili sauce, we were warned by the waitress that it would be very spicy. Coming from a place in the Philippines known to love spicy food (Bicol), I took the waitress’ warning with a grain of salt, therefore pouring a lot of it on my pizza. But I was sorry for underestimating her warning. So far, it has been the spiciest chili sauce I have ever tasted. Even our Danish friends Line and Christian were surprised to find such sauce in an Italian restaurant in Denmark.
With all the people we met, the facilities we saw, the food we ate, and the castles we went to, it was indeed a day of learning and amazement. Despite the hectic schedule, it was a day well spent. Now that’s efficient!
Loving the efficiency,
Velkommen til Danmark – The World’s Happiest Nation!2014-04-24 Copenhagen, Denmark
After a 3-hour flight from Kevflavik Airport (Iceland), we finally landed in Copenhagen (or as the Danes would refer to it as København). Line Orloff of Schneider Electric Denmark booked a cab for us. So the transfer from the airport to the hotel went smoothly. Monday was still a part of the Easter holiday in Denmark so Lorenz and I were both wondering where all the people have gone. We checked in at the hotel and left our things in our respective rooms, talked with our families back home and rested for a bit.
Our seats were not beside each other during the flights so I just found out that Lorenz didn’t get to eat while on the plane. So at around 4 in the afternoon we were starting to feel hungry and decided to explore the area nearby. We are staying at the Strand Hotel which is located by the harbor front. Just around the corner is Nyhavn Street. I suggest you Google how the name of the street is pronounced because we got it all wrong. Further down Nyhavn is where Nytorv Square is.
We walked up until we reached Nytorv Square and found the happy wall. It is street art that they put up and where you could form letters, words and shapes by revealing the colors on the black board. Coincidentally my mom’s name (Mia) was already up on the board so I just took a snap of it. Along the way, we were also able to check out the cafes and restaurants that are located along Nyhavn. Since it is a tourist destination, the food was a bit pricey. After checking out the different places in the area, we finally decided to eat at a pizzeria nearby. But seriously, the prices are really high here and I must have drunk the most expensive bottle of coke today.
After dinner, we headed back to the hotel. We are trying to adapt to the new time zone and jetlag is catching on. But the city, based on what we’ve seen so far, is really beautiful. The scenic view from the harbor outside the hotel is just lovely. But there are still a lot of things to explore in Denmark and perhaps we’ll find out during our stay why it is the happiest nation. :)
Feeling happy in Denmark,
I’d like to share a bit of my geeky side and my inclination to appreciate wordplay. We are currently staying in a hotel in the area of Nyhavn, which means “New Port” and during our stay in Rhode Island, we stayed in Newport. I just find the similarity quite amusing. :)
Ice Peak in Reykjavik2014-04-23 Reykjavik, Iceland
Good morning, Iceland! We landed in Iceland when it was freezing outside. It was approximately 1°C outside when we arrived. Now, you might be wondering why we are in Iceland when Lorenz mentioned that we’d be heading to Denmark. Our destination is Denmark but we had a stopover in Reykjavik. There are bits and pieces that made the 5-hour flight interesting. But I hope I don’t spoil it for anyone who is flying with Icelandair pretty soon. Also, I am writing this from my perspective because Lorenz hit the snooze button when the plane took off. As French would probably say, “Ces’t dommage (It’s such a shame)” because the flight offered so many bits and pieces of interesting things to know Iceland better.
We were on a flight that left Boston just a few hours before Easter ended. So, apart from the food that they served from the menu, they gave Easter eggs for everyone. The chocolate shell housed a little piece of paper that had an Icelandic saying. I’d compare it to getting a fortune cookie, but getting chocolate and a bit more trivia. And let’s face it, who does not love chocolate (that has endorphins that make people happy)?
Apart from Icelandic food, they did offer Easter beer which the name suggests is only served during Easter. I did quite find the gastronomic experience to be fairly fascinating but perhaps getting to try Icelandic food in local restaurants would offer a different experience. What I did do while enjoying my food and beverage was listen to some music. The inflight entertainment offered a great selection of music. But I thought why not complete the Icelandic experience with an Icelandic Artists mix that they had already prepared. There are some really cool beats and tunes and I am definitely trying to look for the songs I heard while I was on board.
Also Iceland was recently featured in a film entitled The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. So, I think to walk on Iceland ground was definitely cool. But what was amazing was to see the ice capped mountains and volcanoes and flying over them. For someone who comes from a tropical country and doesn’t get to experience having snow, seeing that sight was just magnificent. Maybe it was from afar but it was just lovely to behold such wonder.
Freezing in Iceland,
P.S. Prior to deplaning, I asked Lorenz to wait for me so that we could take a selfie or a bunch of photos prior to entering the building. But some miscommunication happened. He was waiting inside the building when I deplaned so please excuse my selfie.
Easter, Freedom, and Leaving2014-04-22 Boston, USA
It is Easter Sunday and as Catholics, it was but right to start our day by attending Mass at the Shrine of St. Anthony, the nearest church to our hotel. As Easter is supposed to be a day of great jubilation in the Christian community, we cannot afford to waste time to enjoy our remaining hours in the United States. We went back to the Copley Square to take some photos of the Boston Marathon Finish Line and nearby historical buildings (i.e. Trinity Church, Boston Public Library, Old South Church) in daylight and set out to the Boston Commons to walk along the Freedom Trail. The Freedom Trail is a 2.5-mile long path that leads to 16 significant historic sites from the Boston Commons to the USS Constitution in Charlestown.
To facilitate and substantiate our Freedom Trail walk, we decided to join a guided tour. With lots of humor in store, the tour guide shared interesting stories in Boston history and historical sites. For instance, he pointed out that the place where the playground in Boston Commons now stands used to be where public executions were held. He also revealed to us that the dome of the Massachusetts State House is actually covered by 23-karat gold foil! We then passed by the Park Street church, where the hymn “America” was first sung on July 4, 1831 and where William Lloyd Garrison gave the first anti-slavery speech. Just a short walk nearby was the Old Granary Burial Ground where Boston’s revolutionary figures such as Paul Revere, John Hancock, Samuel Adams, Peter Fanueil and James Otis are buried. We also passed by the site of the first public school in the United States, the Boston Latin School. We again walked by the Old South Meeting House, which we also visited on our first day in Boston. Still along the Freedom Trail is the Old State House which used to be the seat of the British Parliament and the colonial government. It stood witness to the Boston Massacre which took place in 1770. It is also the place where John Hancock first read the Declaration of Independence in 1776. The tour concluded at the Fanueil Hall, which is also known as the “Cradle of Liberty”. It was recently mentioned by Dailymail UK as the 7th most visited tourist attraction in the world. Just outside the Fanueil Hall, we watched an entertaining street theater presentation. There are many shops in the area, including the Quincy Marketplace, where we bought some souvenirs.
The Freedom Trail actually goes beyond the Fanueil Hall with five other spots until Charlestown. Since the guided tour concluded at the Fanueil Hall, maybe we can finish the other five the next time we again set our feet in Boston.
Now we are about to leave the land of the people who affirmed the Filipinos’ love of freedom, of democracy. Now we are about to leave behind the place of friendly folks of Boston and Rhode Island. Now we are about to leave behind the delectable seafood cuisine of New England, the awe-inspiring structures of Boston, and the relaxing environment in Rhode Island – but we will surely carry with us the experiences and the happy memories of our week-long stay in “the land of the free and the home of the brave”.
‘Til we meet again, America! Denmark, here we come!
Thankful and hopeful,
A Day of Art and Random Adventures2014-04-21 Boston, USA
After a half-day in Cambridge, now we’re back to Boston. We have been touring around on our own since yesterday with a map from the hotel, a train route map, tips we got from Jen (of SE in Rhode Island), directions we got from the internet, and a good amount of gut feel when we didn’t know whether to go straight ahead, turn left, right, or back. Today we were up for some stroll at the eastern and southern parts of the city.
So as not to waste time, we immediately started our city tour after breakfast. Walking to the Seaport District, we dropped by the Boston Tea Party Museum, which was still closed at that time; took some photos along the riverside near the Boston Children’s Museum; and spent the rest of the morning till past noon at the Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA). As a bit of history (which I got from the internet), the Boston Tea Party Museum commemorates the events that led to the protest by the Sons of Liberty in Boston in 1773 against the Tea Act. The Tea Party, which decries their taxation by the British government without representation, was a crucial part in the escalation of the American Revolution. As a sign of indignation, the protesters threw the shipment of tea into the Boston Harbor. We also didn’t go inside the Boston Children’s Museum, but according to its website, it “exhibits focus on early childhood development and the three themes: arts, culture, and science”.
In ICA, we were able to see exhibits by Nick Cave (“Soundsuits”), William Kentridge (“The Refusal of Time”), Eleanor Antin (“Selves”), and Nathalie Djurberg and Hans Berg (“A World of Glass”). Among all the exhibitions, it was William Kentridge’s work that fascinated me most. The installation showed a subversion of a linear and standardized perception of time by revealing that time is personal and varies per individual, which also resonates with Albert Einstein’s theory of special relativity. In a write up by Davida Fernandez-Barkan, the “refusal of time” is in large part a refusal of imperialism (cf. Britain’s standardization of time by establishing the Greenwich Mean Time as the global standard). After going around the museum, we created our own souvenir, i.e. mixed media artwork based from Nick Cave’s Soundsuits.
We then went to the Fenway District where the famous Boston Museum of Fine Arts and Fenway Park are. We got to the museum fifteen minutes before closing time allowing us to get museum tickets for free. With no time to waste, we went to the Ancient Art, American Art, and European Art sections. The Ancient Art section featured relics of the ancient world, mostly of Egyptian origin. The European Art section had the expected display of European grandeur, mostly in furniture, figurines, and religious art. The American Art section had paintings of historical figures in American history and other artworks that apparently emanate English influence. With many sections left yet unexplored, the Museum of Fine Arts is surely a place we’ll have to go back to in our next visit to Boston some time we don’t know when.
Afterwards, we took a walk to the lair of the Red Sox, the Fenway Park. Too bad we arrived just around 30 minutes after their winning game against the Baltimore Orioles. It was only in this trip that I got a bit oriented with the baseball frenzy in the United States, and the side trip to the Fenway Park made me feel that Americans’ patronage of their favorite baseball teams even transcends generations!
From the Fenway Park, we had a long walk to the Back Bay District where the Hynes Convention Center, Prudential Tower, and Copley Square are. A historic area intertwined with an active business environment, one can find Massachusetts’ tallest buildings located almost side by side with some of the most historically significant neighborhoods. At Hynes Convention Center, we checked out a bazaar with sports-related booths in time for the upcoming Boston Marathon. At the Prudential Tower, we went to the 50th floor to have a panoramic view of the city. With an electronic audio guide, viewing became more informative!
At night, I had to go back early to the hotel because I was expecting a phone call. After which, I went back to the Back Bay area and had a relaxing stroll along Massachusetts Ave. and went straight to Copley Square. At around the same time, Alyssa had an enjoyable night at the Improv Asylum, an improv and comedy theater in Boston’s North End District.
Ending a day worthy of our tired feet,
The Average at Cambridge2014-04-20 Cambridge, MA, USA
Lorenz and I arrived in Boston just a few minutes past noon. It is the Easter Holidays and the Boston Marathon would be on Monday, people are starting to pack the city. After checking in at the hotel, we decided to spend the rest of the afternoon at Cambridge.
We took the train from Downtown Crossing to Kendall station to visit the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Considered as one of the top engineering schools, it is very fascinating to actually get to visit the place. We managed to walk along the stretch by the Charles River. To be honest, we really didn’t know where the main building was. We just got directions to get to the campus but when we were there, we just wandered and observed the facades of the buildings. We did manage to find ourselves along Mass. Ave where the main building is located. One could not possibly miss the massive structure with columns. We went inside the main building for a bit and took some photos. A very touristy thing to do, I must say. But how often do you get to visit MIT (assuming you don’t attend any program there)?
Right after, we took the train to Harvard, “Hahvahd” as Bostonians would say. We found ourselves in Harvard Square. We walked towards the main gate of Harvard University, Ivy League school. We walked past Harvard hall towards where a group of tourists were crowded around the statue of John Harvard. We then walked around the Harvard Yard. There were a few specific buildings I wanted to see in Harvard so we asked a police officer where to find a couple of buildings and where we could perhaps buy some souvenir items as well. ;)
Based on the given directions by the police officer, we found ourselves in front of the library, the science center. We were also able to visit the memorial hall. But to cap our tour in the campus, prior to walking to the souvenir shop, we headed to the Harvard Law School. We went inside Austin Hall, and a part of me really wanted to inquire about the program at Harvard. On a personal note, like others I also dreamt of getting into Harvard. I used to read up on Harvard over the internet back when I was still in high school, even before the craze about Mike Ross and Harvey Specter. (Forgive me for the Suits reference if you do not know the show.)
We then walked through the Old Yard to get to the souvenir shop. We were just in time and had a few minutes to grab a couple of shirts and other merchandise before the shop closed. To end our trip to Harvard, we went further down Dunster St. to go to a place called Kirkland House. It was a good thing that I remembered the name of the place mentioned in the Social Network. Kirkland House was where Mark Zuckerberg used to stay when he attended Harvard and that was where Facebook started. Facebook would eventually be one of the things that would consume most of people’s time, including mine and probably yours too! Hahaha!
We were considering going to Tufts University after but it was getting late and had to get some rest. So that was it for an afternoon at Cambridge. I do hope you guys could also visit the place. J
The average at Cambridge,
The Road from Rhode Island2014-04-19 Rhode Island, USA
Just as we were feeling comfortable away from the hustle and bustle of the city, Lorenz and I had to head back to Boston earlier today. Liz picked us up from the hotel in Newport. Since the train ride wasn’t till around 10:00 AM, we passed by the University of Rhode Island and grabbed some breakfast at Bagelz. As the name of the place must have given away, we had some bagels, coffee and tea.
We then headed to the train station. It was where Liz picked us up a couple of days ago. Now here we are a couple of days later, no longer strangers. But this time around, we are getting dropped off at the same place to head out of town.
It was such a great experience to have visited the APC by Schneider Electric facility in Rhode Island. Thanks again for having us!
Credits go to Liz and the rest of the amazing team from HR who made us feel welcome! We just had to take this selfie just before leaving town. It was sad that we had to leave after spending two days, driving around the state with Liz, Ashley and Jen.
Stuffed in Providence2014-04-18 Providence, USA
Today, we got to learn more bits and pieces about Rhode Island, the smallest state in the USA, and explore Providence which is the capital of the state. Rhode Island apparently has the longest official name, which is “State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations.” But prior to getting to Providence, loads of interesting things happened along the way.
To jumpstart the day we had breakfast at The People’s Café at Newport. It had an artsy interior with paintings up on the wall. We then headed to Wickford where we picked up some souvenirs from The World Store.
Lorenz and I presented to a group of people in the Schneider Electric facility our project, our experiences and how we ended up in Rhode Island. J. The presentation was over lunch and Liz ordered pizza and salad for everyone. Although, it was only after the presentation when we were able to munch on the pizza. Over lunch (and soda) we had met with Jean Pelletier from Human Resources. The conversation was really open and free flowing. For me, it was an exchange of ideas, perspectives and just a fun filled chat that dealt with realities that are part of Schneider Electric being a global company.
After, Lorenz and I had a chance to call shadow again and this time there were calls from customers coming in from the line. What amazes me is the ability of people in the customer care services to multitask, think quickly and respond to the customer immediately with the best course of action or answers to the queries. I was paired with Allison and something interesting is that Allison was so tall! She is 6’4’’ which made even Lorenz feel short for his height :) Hahaha!
After call shadowing, we headed out of the office with Liz and Ashley for a trip to Providence. Same as the day before, we just knew where we were headed but we didn’t know what we’ll actually do. We drove all the way to Providence but passed by Narragansett Beach for a while. Liz and Ashley just wanted us to see the beautiful view of the sea, the towers and the sea wall. What’s fascinating was it was the first time that I actually felt the need of a thick jacket while on the beach. In the Philippines, we normally bask in the sun when we are at the beach.
We then found our way to Providence. Liz took us to Brown University and showed us around the campus. Then we went to the convention center where the thing that Liz had in store for us would take place or at least start to take place. Liz booked for us a tour called “Experience Rhode Island” where we got to go around Providence in a tour bus and dine around the city. The tour had three specific spots where we would dine and have an appetizer, an entrée and then dessert respectively.
The first stop was at The Dorrance which is located in a building that used to be a bank. The place was very swanky. The interior had really detailed carvings and the vault was retained but is filled with a set of chairs that people can lounge in. The appetizers were really good. We all got different dishes so that we could taste a bit of everything. The next stop was Los Andes, which is a Peruvian restaurant. Oh boy, were we filled after our meal! Ashley had some chicken while Liz had fish. Lorenz and I each had paella. We were served with humungous lobsters on top of our paella. I think I need to get used to the portion size that they serve here in the US. Prior to heading to the last stop, we went to a spot overlooking the city of Providence and it was just gorgeous at night. For desert we were dropped off by the bus driver in Mill’s Tavern. Like we did in The Dorrance, we ordered different desserts. Liz had a cheesecake, Ashley had a warm cake, Lorenz had a white chocolate mousse and I had a dark chocolate cremeux.
By the end of the tour, we were all stuffed.
Stuffed with great providence,
A Bird’s Eye View2014-04-17 Rhode Island, USA
Only an hour train ride away from Boston was our next destination: Rhode Island a.k.a. the Ocean State. And this time, the weather seemed to be cooperating with us. Despite the colder temperature due to snowfall at nighttime of Tuesday to early morning of Wednesday (we got to see some remnants of snow in the morning), it was sunny in both states. Neither I nor Alyssa knew what surprises were in store for us in the Ocean State with such desirable weather.
Liz picked us up from the station and brought us to the Corporate Headquarters of APC by Schneider Electric in West Kingston. She toured us around the facility and showed almost every nook and cranny of the building. We walked through data centers, the old manufacturing area (which as such until manufacturing operations were transferred to other locations such as in the Philippines), laboratories, product displays, conference rooms, and different department offices. We also got to meet a good number of friendly people behind the day-to-day operation of the facility.
After having a delectable lunch and light conversations with Liz, Jen, Will, and Rich at the nearby Celestial Café, we were given the chance to learn from customer care personnel through a one-on-one discussion. Alyssa and I were supposed to observe how Sean and Jordan, respectively, would handle customer care concerns. However, at the duration of our discussions, nobody called. Afterwards, we met with Jim, a very well-rounded, motivating, and humorous man, in charge of People Development in the company. We shared with him stories about our winning entry, and some experiences we had during the competition last year and the first leg of this tour. He gave us some insights about his job, how he handles various circumstances at work, and tips for a successful global career. Aside from being proficient in five languages, he knows a little Filipino and greeted us in our language! We really appreciated it.
But the surprise everyone tried to keep secret from us was just yet to come.
Nobody spilled the beans until we arrived at an airport in Middletown. We were to ride a helicopter to have an aerial view of the entire Rhode Island! When I saw a signboard a few blocks away from the airport, saying “Bird’s Eye View Helicopter”, I had a slight suspicion that we would ride in a chopper, but I thought it was too much so I dismissed the idea, until we parked by the airport itself and rode the helicopter. The 12-minute helicopter ride overlooking the state, with all its famous mansions and resorts, was priceless. I never thought I would be able to ride a helicopter this early in my life. I believe neither Alyssa did. It was one of the most unexpected and overwhelming surprises I ever got!
We then went to the Red Parrot restaurant in Newport for dinner with Liz, Jen, and Ashley. It was my first time to eat mako shark steak, which I particularly chose because I remember reading it from the book “Life of Pi” (by Yann Martel) as the fierce shark that humbled the mighty Richard Parker. Alyssa had “surf and turf”, which is grilled filet mignon topped with lobster scampi. We also had luscious desserts, flavorful drinks, and lots of laughter to complete the meal.
To cap the day, we went strolling at the wharf and watched the beautiful sunset. Despite the freezing cold, the company of our newfound friends was enough to keep us warm.
It was a day in the eyes of a bird, indeed. Touring the SE facility, we got to see how the company generally works. Riding a chopper, we were able to have a broad view of the land and seas of Rhode Island. And watching the sun set, we were like birds in retreat by the seaside, taking a break and thankful for the great day that was.
In awe at Rhode Island,
P.S. On our way to the wharf, I saw trash cans which were labeled “solar compactor”. It’s amazing how solar power technology, which is one of my fields of technical interest, is integrated even to the trash bins along the sidewalk!
Let’s Get It On, Boston!2014-04-16 Boston, USA
For someone who is from a tropical country and who might be currently experiencing the summer heat, the weather in Boston is quite the opposite. It was about 55°F outside when Lorenz and I decided to take a walk towards the Boston Aquarium where we would meet up with people from Schneider Electric, Andrea Franco and Dan DeLuca. We decided to walk along Washington St. and see what we would find there.
We saw that the theater district is quite near the hotel. Just at the intersection near the hotel, the Boston Opera House is located. I was personally fascinated by the architecture of the buildings in the vicinity. I am amazed at how old the structures must be but still there is beauty in it. There are even some restoration works ongoing.
We strolled further towards School St. where the Boston Irish Famine Memorial is located. Just across the street the Old South Meeting House, which is both a Museum and a Historic site, can be found. We were just passing by when we saw that admission today was for free. Since we still had time, we decided to enter the museum and learn some historical events that occurred there and in Boston in general. In memory of the bombing that occurred last year, the admission to the museum was for free, in the hope that people who would visit the site would use it as a reflective environment to think about the past events that took place in Boston.
After the stop at the museum, we passed by a shop called Cakeology. I was mainly attracted by the cute design of the store and the giant panda stuffed toy displayed inside. But we were also starving and decided to grab something to eat. Lorenz got a Pink Lemonade Cupcake while I got a Magic Bar, which is a bar of chocolates, caramel, desiccated coconut and peanuts.
We scurried towards State St. since it was already raining. The stroll in the park kind of walk just wouldn’t do. It was like in a snap of a finger, the weather changed. The winds were really strong and the rain kept pouring. Thank God I brought an umbrella with me! It was also a good thing that the guy from reception area of the hotel was kind enough to lend Lorenz an umbrella. But both of our umbrellas got beaten by the strong winds. If Lorenz and I were lighter in mass, we would have been carried by the wind with our umbrellas and fly like Mary Poppins.
We hurriedly walked towards the Boston Aquarium and decided to eat at a restaurant located near the Aquarium. The place is called The Legal Seafood. Lorenz ordered for some gumbo while I got crab meat cake. After lunch, we were finally able to meet Andrea and Dan.
Andrea planned to take us on a Duck Tour around Boston. But due to the inclement weather, the tours were cancelled for the day. We decided to head to the Museum of Science and spent the afternoon there. The museum had a couple of exhibits like the Hall of Human Life, the displays about computer science and robotics, the theater of electricity, the optics display and many more.
After going around the museum we headed to the North End for dinner at an Italian restaurant. But prior to heading to the restaurant, we walked along Hanover to see the churches and gardens. We also walked around the block and passed by the Paul Revere house. One thing that can be noted also was how the road near the Paul revere house was still made of cobblestone. After going around the area, Andrea took us to a place called Pagliuca’s where we enjoyed some scrumptious food. Lorenz had his fill of clams and other seafood served in a broth with pasta. Dan had roasted veal with potatoes. Andrea had some pasta (ziti) with chicken. I ordered Lobster Fra Diavolo. It was taxing to eat the lobster since it was covered in red sauce and to add to that, it was so big and was served with pasta.
We shared stories and got to know each other a bit over dinner. We discussed with Andrea and Dan our project and also talked about specific contributions in the process of completing the project. We also shared our experiences in Paris.
Although the weather was not in favor to what was originally planned, it turned out to be a great day. We really appreciated the time Andrea and Dan took to accompany us in going about the city. Today was about being immersed in a beautiful city with rich history, having great company in getting around and sharing a great meal at the end of the day.
Smitten by the beauty of Boston,
Across the Pacific Ocean2014-04-15 Boston, USA
Lorenz and I were set to fly to Boston but we had a transit flight through San Francisco. It is interesting how flying all the way to the other side of the Pacific shows the interplay of time and space. After being aboard the plane for approximately 11 hours, we finally arrived in San Francisco. What is interesting though is that after travelling more than 6,000 miles it seemed that we have gone back in time. We left Manila on Tuesday night, April 14 and arrived in San Francisco at around 7 PM, Tuesday, April 14.
We would have loved to check out San Francisco but Boston was already beckoning us from East Coast of the United States. We took another plane ride to Boston (approximately 6 hours). What was cool about the plane ride to Boston was having a female pilot. It was my first time to see and experience riding an aircraft that had a woman as a captain. Coincidentally, it goes along pretty well with the vision of Go Green in the City regarding the participation and role of women in society nowadays.
Once we landed at the Logan International airport and got our luggage, we were picked up by a chauffeur. Schneider Electric prepared all the bookings for us including the car service from the airport to the hotel. It was a short ride from the airport to the hotel. But we managed to get a glimpse of Boston. We can’t wait to explore the city while we are here! Please join us in our adventures as we travel around USA and Denmark through this blog.
All the best,
P.S. On our way to the hotel, we passed by buildings with flags half-masted. It was the anniversary of the Boston Marathon bombing that happened last year. Our prayers go out to all who were victims of the bombing.
Go Green in the City 2013 winners anticipate what surprises Schneider Electric has in store!2014-04-14 Manila, Philippines
Today Alyssa Vintola and Lorenz Payonga, winners of the Go Green in the City 2013 challenge, embark on their journey around the world with Schneider Electric. Participation and victory in the competition has already opened many doors and secured professional opportunities for the winners, but today they continue their journey by visiting both the USA and Denmark.
As they were preparing to leave, we were able to catch up with Alyssa and Lorenz and find out more about their excitement and expectations for the trip. Read on to gain insight into their Go Green in the City story, find out why they chose their destinations and what they are most looking forward to on their trip!
How would you describe your Go Green in the City 2013 experience?
Alyssa: My Go Green in the City experience has been about expanding our views about energy efficiency, getting to know Schneider Electric through our mentor, meeting a lot of people and encouraging other students like us to participate in the competition.
Apart from winning, what was your best experience during the competition?
Lorenz: I became motivated to think innovatively. During Go Green in the City I was forced to think “outside-the-box”; it was unforgettable! And, of course, getting to know people from different cultures and different values, but with the common goal of promoting energy efficiency, was a great experience.
What did you learn from the competition?
Lorenz: One of the very important points that we learned from the competition is that it all boils down to how you can communicate your idea so that you can explain it both to the technically-minded and a person on the street.
What do you expect from your trip with Schneider Electric?
Alyssa: First we’ll be going to the USA and then we will head to Europe before coming back to the Philippines. So we will literally make a trip around the world! We think that USA and Denmark will offer us a rich cultural view, and a comprehensive overview of Schneider Electric as a company.
Lorenz: We are looking forward to seeing the Schneider Electric facilities and getting to know the people behind this very successful company. We are also excited to see all the surprises that Schneider Electric has in store for us.
Why did you choose Denmark and USA?
Alyssa: We checked the facility listings from the Schneider Electric website, and from their facilities in the USA and Denmark we can learn a lot, both in terms of how the company runs its business, and how they go about the manufacturing and technical aspects.
Lorenz: The trip to the USA and Denmark is also a big preparation for us, because when we come back to the Philippines we will start working for Schneider Electric, so it will also be an introduction trip. Regarding Denmark, I am particularly interested to find out why this country is branded as the happiest country in the world.
How will this trip contribute to your personal development?
Alyssa: Every chance that you get to travel to a different country is a chance for personal growth, because you get to adjust to customs in different countries, meet new people, and for us it is an opportunity to see how the things are run in more developed countries. And I think we can bring back to the Philippines practices from other countries that are more advanced.
Lorenz: Every culture presents a different perspective on how I can view life in general, and I think the experiences that are in store for us will change the way we view and assess our lives, and our future.
Alyssa and Lorenz are fresh graduates with degrees in Electronics and Communications Engineering from Ateneo de Manila University in the Philippines.
Alyssa is passionate about getting to know different cultures by exploring local cuisines, cultural sites, and meeting new people. She also likes to read, that’s why she already has her e-books ready for the flights!
Lorenz is passionate about music, and plays piano and guitar. He is genuinely fascinated by renewable energy facilities and technologies. Lorenz also loves surprises, that’s why he isn’t asking any questions about the upcoming trip, but instead is looking forward to being surprised and fascinated.
Moscow never sleeps2013-02-20 Moscow, Russia
During the second day in Moscow we did mainly work, we didn’t have time to see all areas of the enormous Schneider building with eight floors. Irina had planned a meeting with HR and the Energy Efficiency leadership team.
After lunch (Finally one Brazilian similarity) we visited the Solution Center. Thanks to our Russian translator Katya it was both very technical and clear. Later on Tatiana had a coffee break with Students from Baumann University of Moscow and we had some time to talk about GGitC, the award and our application. They all were very curious, interested and focused, thank you all!
Before the dinner we had a “How to defrost your car” lesson and learned how much cars actually suffers from this cold weather. I also found out that you can find a delicious steak and good wine in Moscow.
Before we finished the night we went by Papas place and had some beers, 4 for 1 cuba libres!
Bye byee and thanks a lot Mokba!!
The last day in Moscow, the city that never sleeps!!2013-02-20 Moscow, Russia
It’s the day at Schneider headquarter in Russia, the office had 8 floors and a security very different from others, perhaps more rigid. We took a tour at the HQ and I had the impression that the “Go Green design” is not communicated to the employees, which I felt was the first impression.
We talked with the Vice president of HR and Operations and presented our project: Green Light Concept for both. The Vice president gave us very interesting feedback on how we could present it better and sell it as our best idea. I will remember this feedback for the rest of my life, very enriching.
In the afternoon we presented our project and Go Green for a group of students from universities in Moscow, super interested and engaged students. Afterwards, we went to dinner – aahhh Russian food looks so much like Brazilian food, It felt like home =)
On the last day we could not take advantage of the fact that Moscow never sleeps, and we went to a pub with our new Russians friends.
What Napoleon never saw2013-02-19 Moscow, Russia
At the first look the “tour around Moscow’s nightlife” was an order, but when we arrived in Moscow we couldn’t join Tatiana and the Students, cause I was extremely tired and Marcellye was sick with the flu!
The next day Tatyana guided us to the most important, and pretty unique, attraction in Moscow, ‘MOKBA’. Luckily, Svetlana, one the Russian finalists from last year, joined us at the tour.
We visited the Bolshoi Theater, Red Square, St. Basil’s Cathedral, a chocolate Shop, Moscow Geographical Reference at Proyezd Voskresenskiye Vorota (these were like the fountains in Paris, a place to throw a coin and make a wish) and Glass Globe Mall!!
One of the most different experiences was the lunch we had at My My. The traditional Russian food has a strong taste, very distinctive, and in Brazil we have more soft kinds of flavors.
After lunch we met up with the students Aliya, Vladimir and Micha and went to the Cosmonautics Museum where Micha gave us all the information and some fun facts. This part was awesome mainly because my hasn’t developed any research with this kind of special focus and therefor this was very new for us.
The walk around Moscow with these students was very funny and unforgettable. Those guys knew so much about the city’s history, science and I learned so much!!
By the end of the night we went to a European Mall to eat something and talk. Later on we had some beers next to the Hotel!!
The students were very easy to get to know and it felt like they were our old friends even if Russians are quite closed before you get to know them but very caring after a while, I really liked them!
Good night folks!
Having fun!2013-02-18 Chicago, USA
We went to the Navy Pier, a beautiful place, but I have to confess that it should have been even nicer if it was summertime.
From here we went to the zoo, the animals were indoors because of the temperature, but I found a very small space for large cats such as tigers and lions. Close to this there was a greenhouse with beautiful flowers and I thought about how lucky I was to have all this within reach. Beautiful plants, delicate flowers and majestic trees, just like in Brazil.
We had a hot dog for lunch at a restaurant that reminded me of a few movie that I’ve seen, the place was bucolic, with beautiful décor. A policeman had lunch at the same place. I commented that it felt like I was in a movie and that his uniform was so beautiful, so he did put his hand inside his jacket and pulled out a gift for me, and I LOVE the souvenir:
Something special in the air2013-02-18 Chicago, USA
Hi everybody, a new trip to come: We are finalizing everything in order to go to Czar’s land!!
The stop in Chicago was the best trip of my life!! I’ll never forget it and I have to say that saying goodbye makes me sad, I’m crying inside. Jenna was just incredible!! The last activity was the costumer visit, we saw the Schneider’s Solution in Chicago Public Schools Management Building. Afterwards, we did some shopping, took a tour at the Navy Pier, saw Lincoln Park Zoo and the Skydeck and had the best Spanish Dinner ever.
I’m so excited about all this and I can’t thank Jenna enough for this short time in this freezing weather. She was very kind, with her positivity, happiness, care and energy (She looks like seventeen =D).
Today we just enjoyed the great weather and walked like Ninjas (Only -24º C) hahahaha…
Now we are off to Moscow, Russia, to close this experience with the goal-labeled agenda that our Russian host Irina prepared!!
At Moscow we’ll have less time, but I hope for great times as we lived here.
With this long journey around the globe and after almost 50 hours of flight you spend a lot of time with something and the intimacy arises. This long time in the air will bring us closer to discover what’s so special in the air!
Thank you Chicago!!!
I hope you enjoy and keep following us.
Great companies are great only if they are large customers2013-02-17 Chicago, USA
We left Palatine and went back to Chicago, through terrible traffic, a landmark of large cities. We arrived to a majestic building in downtown Chicago which is the building of administration for public schools. We could see some Schneider solutions installed in order to reduce spending on energy consumption and rise the comfort for the employees. It’s amazing how some solutions which seem so easy can save a lot of energy.
I love energy and different techniques. I listened with “open ears” in order to absorb as much as possible regarding the concepts and ideas presented. Once again I would like to thank Jenna for this visit, it was awesome!
Office – could it be better?2013-02-15 Palatine, USA
No, it is impossible to be better than it already is. Accompanied by our dear host Jenna, we visited the headquarter of Schneider Electric in Palatine, USA.
Firstly we had a very relaxed conversation with one of the responsible for the selection of “Marco Polo – Schneider”. He told us about his own experience and the basic requirements needed in order to enter the program.
We talked to Katie, an electrical engineer, who took the decision to use her expertise in her career and not only as technical knowledge. Initially she worked in the sales team but after a while she moved to town and joined the marketing team instead. Our talk was super nice and I really enjoyed seeing some new Schneider solutions.
Later on, we talked with the Vice President of HR in USA about our upcoming careers. We also gave them feedback on Go Green in the City and the prizes etc. One of the things we talked about, which I think is very important, was the fact that we are not the ones posting on our blog which causes some delays – sorry about that.
We had a number of important meetings. Everything was super enriching both professionally and in terms of building a strong network of contacts. We’ve met many nice and polite people that I intend to keep in contact with. We finished the day and went to a pizzeria and ate the famous Deep Dish Pizza in Chicago, delicious and sensational :)
As children2013-02-13 Palatine, USA
Being at the Nothwest University gave us a very good insight into Schneider’s North American Headquarter at Palatine and the work thay do there.
It was a great but also important visit for me. Jenna, who work in the office, had prepared an amazing agenda for us. Firstly we talked bout the ‘Marco Polo Program’ (an amazing international mobility program). Afterwards she had planned a meeting for us with two Business Strategy Analysts at Schneider Electric (My dream job!). We met Colleen McLaughlin, one of the youngest analysts and Darcy Bonner, one of the more senior analysts. They shared their experiences and we had a really good chat about different career paths that one could go and it was definitely a useful guide for me and my future career.
Later on we had the opportunity to meet with a number of global recruiting managers who asked for our experiences and feedback on Go Green in the City. We had some very good and giving discussions with Dan Fagan, Elaine Breattmann and Yvette. After this, the Chilli Cook Off! A funny and delicious competition where we experimented with seven different plates of chili and chose the Top 3!!
After the lunch break we went to the Solution Center to see some of Schneider’s Solutions used in the states. I love this part of the company’s history and had a funny experience with the Big Touch Screen!!
Before going to dinner (The traditional Chicago’s Deep Dish Pizza, just delicious) we had another funny experience where Jenna had us meet with all of the North American Leaders to have a conversation our projects, our plans, our internship and differences between US and Brazil. After a while one of the participants told Marcellye:
-It’s snowing outside!
She just started to jump up and down and also I was excited about my first meeting with white snow but I tried to stay serious.
One thing made me think:
Why have differences been misinterpreted in the past?
Today, I know that all the worlds’ variation makes the world spinning and work – such as – skin colors, cultures, weathers etc. Maybe something in your everyday life becomes a norm while in another life it could be be something totally new, like the forst snow is a funny playground for children.
See ‘u next time!! ^^
Northwestern University: such a beautiful place2013-01-31
Yesterday we went to Northwestern University, together with a full team from Schneider Electric US, to speak to some students about Go Green in the City. We talked about our idea and how we came to the final, our experience in Paris, and the opportunities and rewards being offered to us. It was a cool experience! The university was somehow different from what we are used to in Brazil and they had a lot of pizza. ;-)
The university was beautiful and I couldn’t distinguish the campus from the rest of the city. Everywhere was historical buildings. We didn’t take many pictures because it was raining, so our cameras wouldn’t survive.
After the university we went for dinner with some employees at Schneider Electric and Igor was the only man the table. = P We had excellent food and good company. There is nothing better!
I really have to thank Schneider Electric for the opportunity being offered to me and Igor. Going abroad, meeting people from around the world, learning about other cultures and places is without a doubt a unique opportunity and I’m learning a lot here.
Once we arrived at O’Hare airport we ran in to a problem – my luggage locker was broken. This was an unfortunate start, but we soon got on better thoughts because this city is awesome!!
Marcellye and I checked out the city a bit and checked in to our hotel while waiting for Jenna, our host in Chicago =D. When she joined us, our previous impression of her from phone and email conversations was confirmed, Jenna is an amazing person. She’s like a Brazilian; always smiling, exhaling happiness and sympathy. She’s so funny and has a young spirit. In other words we’re really lucky, we are in great company and I’m so glad for it!
In the afternoon we went shopping for a few things (The coming days we’ll shop all the rest ^^) and prepared ourselves for the Jenna’s big surprise, BULLS GAME!!!!! It was increeeedible, I’ll never, ever, forget it!!
I’m so excited for tomorrow; it seems to be a great day, despite the rain!!
In Miami2013-01-28 Miami, USA
So we are now in Miami and its really hot here. To be honest, I’m a little afraid about the winter and the wind in Chicago, but yet so happy that we have started our trip. Today we have a “day off” and once we’ve dropped off our language in Chicago well go out and see the city and do some shopping.
Later in the afternoon Jenna, our Schneider Electric host, will arrive and guide us though our US visit.
We hope you’ll follow us and will enjoy the trip with us. Participate in Go Green in the City 2013 and you might be traveling the world with Schneider Electric about a year from now. ;)
My childhood dream came true2013-01-27 Paris, France
I was all set to fly to Paris and was totally excited that I couldn’t sleep during the long flight that separated my city, Belo Horizonte, and Paris. There was a taxi driver waiting for us at the airport with a plaque with our names on. At this moment I felt important. =)
He took us to le Hive, an imposing building in Rueil Malmaison which is Schneider Electric’s head office. Once there we looked for our host and she took us to the hotel. (We should have been taken straight to the hotel, but the taxi driver was confused and it was quite amusing.)
I still couldn’t believe that I was in Europe, so close to the most famous tower in the world – I was still in shock. *.* The first day, we had a welcome gathering where we could meet some Schneider Electric executives and the other finalists. We were people from all around the world and it was an amazing experience.
At night, me and Igor rehearsed our presentation several times, changing a few things, trying to speak with more conviction, etc. The next day, the BIG DAY, we went to the presentation. I was super nervous! We attended some workshops and presented our idea in front of a small group of judges, who were super friendly. ;-) That night, we went for dinner on a boat, where we could interact more with the other finalists and see the beautiful city of light, in fact, full of lights, beautiful and splendid. Oh, how I miss Paris!
(Now you’ve read a little bit about our Go Green in the City experience. Today we’ll fly to Chicago and the next post will be about our winners’ trip to US and Russia. SUbscribe to follow us on our journey.)
Memories – some a long time ago, some less so2013-01-24 Paris, France
When I read that e-mail, the best one, entitled ‘Congratulations and welcome to Paris in June’, I had the feeling that amazing things were coming. The scream wasn’t just ‘one more victory celebration’; it was a vent, taking all stress and anxiety off my chest. The Paris experience was a reward for all that hard work.
Marcellye and I felt a special atmosphere once we arrived at Orly Airport. We meet the other 48 finalist – each one with their culture, history, wishes, dreams and expectations just like me. Meeting these people, now my friends, was the best part of the trip.
Moreover, there were other points which were awesome. We got to visit the most amazing headquarter I ever hear about, we got to know people from Schneider Electric and learn from them and I cannot forget the feeling once we understood we won, a true sensation.
Also, I shouldn’t forget mentioning how important our work was with our mentor Chris Collins (from Schneider Electric North America – Critical Buildings). He was our mentor for the 2nd and 3rd steps in the challenge. Chris didn’t only help at the project development, he simply taught us that “learning without think is useless”.
In other words, Go Green in the City is an honorable and rich challenge which offer more than you can expect, it totally worthwhile.
Join us at GGitC 2013 and find it out by yourself!
Let’s start from the beginning2013-01-23
In January 2012, Igor invited me to participate in Go Green in the City 2012, without quite knowing what it was I said yes. All I knew was that it concerned a proposal to make our cities greener and more sustainable.
We started to develop our idea and it resulted in two pages filled with images and a short explanatory text of our idea. Once I received the email that we’ve qualified for the second phase I was very happy but also surprised. We were chosen as one of the top 100 teams out of applicants from all over the world - it was amazing!
In the second phase we enjoyed working with our excellent mentor, Chris Collins. He helped us structure our idea and supported us to make it more feasible. It was a period where I learned a lot about Schneider Electric’s solutions – knowledge that was useful to further improve our project. If our Go Green in the City journey would have ended being among the top 100 it would still have been worth the hours spend.
Finally, I received an e-mail confirmation telling we had made it to the final in Paris. At that time, I felt a whirlwind of feelings inside of me, I was so happy – I would get to see Europe and, somehow, represent Brazil in the finals. At the same time a huge fear of knowing that at that time many people were following my progress and I didn’t want to disappoint them. This fear made me worked even harder during the period between the confirmation and the final in Paris.
In this last phase I felt a bit like a local celebrity. : ) Some local newspapers published the news, that we had made it to the last phase of the Go Green in the City 2012.
In a few days we are off for the winners’ trip and I hope you will follow us as we travel the Schneider Electric world!
Preperations for the 2012 winners’ trip2013-01-21
In June 2012 Igor Soares and Marcellye Miranda won Go Green in the City 2012. A lot has happened since then and apart from doing internships at Schneider Electric in Brazil the two Brazilian engineering students are now preparing for their trip around the Schneider Electric world. Their destinations will be Chicago and Moscow.
Read the interview with the winners here. The first blog post will be posted shortly.
The Go Green in the City Team
Pssst, we hope that you already have pre-registered for Go Green in the City 2013. In a year from now you might be one of the winnerspacking your bag for the winners’ trip. You can pre-register here and read more about the challenge!
Home sweet home2011-11-22
Everything good comes to an end, and this trip has not been an exception (unfortunately). I am sorry not to have written before to inform of my good arrival in European land, but I had to prepare myself for the week ahead, sleep, meet friends… and not necessarily in that order!
Once more, thank you very much for all the people we have met in this trip: visiting new countries is always a nice and interesting experience, but you are the one who have made it so special!
And that is enough cheesy for today, any comments about which pictures you would like to see as a summary of our trip? I suppose a picture of our samba local or the famous Beijing roasted duck are long overdue!
It’s not only the alphabet2011-11-19 Beijing, China
I am very grateful to my guide in Beijing Jessie (picture on the right), because without her I would have thought that Beijing was like any big modern city in Europe – only that the banners are written in another alphabet. The district where Schneider is located, Chaoyang, and the places I had visited there – inclusive a big shopping mall in the traditional Chinese style, where you have to bargain - did not differ much from what I am used to. However, after yesterday’s tour I will never think that ever again!
There is no way that you can visit Beijing in a day, so we stuck to the basics: National Museum, Tianamen Square, Forbidden City, the Confucian Temple and the Learning Academy. And we walked around the Hutongs, those Chinese narrow streets and alleys that really conveyed me the feeling of being in another world.
Since I do not want to bore you with details, I will stress out only the three things that caught most my attention. First, it is funny to see how some of the pottery or tools in ancient times in places as far away as Spain or China may look so similar.
Here it is one example:
However, most of the things are pretty different. You do not need to be an architect to see the difference between an European church and a Chinese temple. Nonetheless, rather than the form, I really liked the colours – and how everything I visited here was well taken care of; in the case of the main North gate of the Forbidden City I would add it was even fresh painted! or at least it smelled still to paint.
And last but not least: I have no talent for bargaining. I was so incredibly cheated! My piece of advice is to visit first the old town, some of the narrow streets are renovated and really touristic. There you can visit small gift shops and see the tags…. then you have already a benchmark, though even there you may be able to bargain… It is really tiring and something I am going to have to work on!
I leave you with a couple of pictures that have made me laugh: any idea about why? Come on, it is really easy!
A new day, a new continent2011-11-16 Beijing, China
First of all, I want to thank again the Brazilian team for an incredible time in their country. It was a pleasure to meet all of you, and I think I can speak for both of us when I say that we would love to come back again!
About our next destination, Beijing is as different as anyone could expect. People are being very nice too. As I arrived I was picked up and brought to the hotel, where I took a taxi for the Schneider Electric Headquarters. I had first an introduction about the history and different career paths in Schneider – included with a test in the beginning! I am ashamed to confess that I failed, but proud to tell that I will not do it in the future anymore! Afterwards I had lunch and I went with Joyce (yes, life is about coincidences, my guide here is called also Joyce!)to visit one of the fabrics of low and medium voltage. It was very interesting to see especially so many women working at it – in low voltage I could say nearly everyone was a woman!
Though it is really a pity, after the visit I went to my hotel to sleep… I guess the flight had took its toll!
Today in the morning I had another meeting about the Chinese market and its strategy for the implementation of the smart grid and electrical vehicles. I also met with some young professionals at Schneider and in a few minutes I will go to eat with them some delicious traditional Chinese food, which I am looking forward to it!
As some of you may have noted, I am talking the whole time as a single person. That is because Suma had to stop in Europe and come back home. It is really sad that she got sick and did not have the energy to stay so many hours in a plane, I miss you Suma! Next time we have to come back together! And for everybody that is reading this post: don’t worry, I received a message from her and she feels already better.
Kind regards to everyone,
We are Corinthians2011-11-13
Corinthians is the football team of Sao Paulo and its colors are black and white. This is what our city guide and Marcelo (Joyce’s fiancè) explained us yesterday. Football is here a big topic, as it is in Spain or Italy, though knowing their international famous and good soccer players, it does not surprise us. We saw today the stadium where tomorrow Corinthos is going to play against another big team of Brazil (Atletico Paranaense). And we even saw one of the Football players in our Samba local, Traco de Uniao.
We had a lot of fun with our city guide – though visiting the city is not as in the European old towns, where you have to wear comfortable shoes to be able to walk for hours. We went by car, since you have to jump from one part of the city to the next one as fast as possible. When they tell you that something is around the corner it means, at least, 15-20 minutes by car. So we did our tour by car and got to make some interesting pictures, that we hope to post soon. We recommend especially the neighbourhood of Vila Madalena and its graffitis!
After eating in a “churrascaria” we went to dance Samba, we could not leave the city without dancing with some brazilian boys! Unfortunately, it is as hard as it seems to dance properly, but we got to learn some new steps and to meet new people. At the end of the day we could not wait to reach our “havaianas”!
Today we are going to have lunch with another Business Partner from Brazil and we will leave this beautiful country for China! We are looking forward to visit China, but at the same time a little bit sad of leaving this country and its incredible people. We hope to meet again here very soon, Ate logo!
We are not filmgenic!2011-11-12
Definition of the word unfilmgenic by Palacios-Elengikal (2011): get a blackout when you see a camera. In fact, among all the activities we did today, we had to make a short video about our experience in the Go Green in the City competition. We are really dreading the moment we get to see the video, because it is hard to be natural talking about an experience you have introduced like thousand of times (or what it seems like it) during the last 24 hours. But even if you think the problem is to be natural, when you are staring at an inanimate object, as it is a camera, the hard thing is to be coherent and not to forget every single information you want to transmit – and we are not even talking about trying to be entertaining! Anyway, we were not only sucessful in presenting our project or talking to the camera today: we had also an interesting round table with several vicepresidents from the different business units in Brazil. We talked about their careers. It is difficult to stress just a sole moment, but I really liked the definition of Motivation: to have a “Motive” and put it into “action”. We are really part of a generation where you have to aim higher, be faster and in some ways, just be perfect without really having clear where you are going. It is hard to be young, but right now we would not exchange it for anything in the world!
We also had a talk about efficient energy management, a guide around the heardquarters, and even a nice dinner with young Talents in Schneider Brazil! It was a pleasure to get to know them and talk about common interests – being one of them, of course, our next step tomorrow: to dance Samba! We leave you now with a picture of some of our new friends in Brazil: Rafa, Caro and Anton. We could not have wished for a better company!!
Chelo and Suma
Never go to bed without learning something new: sometimes it is not as easy as it sounds to get to learn something new, but this trip is making it really simple! After a couple of unexpected anecdotes on the way – which I may tell another time, since now we are kind of running out of it! – Suma and I met with Gabriela – another finalist of the Go Green in the City competition in Paris, who is already working for Schneider Electric in Brazil – and Joyce, our responsible for the whole trip in Sao Paulo. She was perfectly punctual – even Germans would not be able to beat her. We got on our way to have lunch with the Vicepresident of Human Resources in Brazil in a really nice setting – Rascal Restaurant, I definitely recommend its “crema de papaia”. After a nice chat we went to visit and learn more about the logistics of Schneider Electric and their brand new Distribution Center (less than 6 months old!). All in all, it has been a very productive and beautiful day (with sun included in the whole package!), but unfortunately we have to prepare us for tomorrow. I did not get to sleep very well in the plane and tomorrow we have to be ready at 7:30am (did sombedody say that it was a leasure trip?).
Now we are going to have dinner and afterwards we will post some of the pics of the day. It is difficult to say what I have liked more today, but I will choose the title of my post: obrigadA! That means thank you in Portuguese, and that is the perfect description for the welcome and reception of the Brazilian section of Schneider Electric.
The trip has started2011-11-10
I am sitting now in Paris airport waiting for Maria Consuelo and for our flight to Sao Paulo….
I am so excited about the whole trip… I have never been either to Brazil nor to China….
Just a background information: you may wonder why did we choose these two countries…. well, we took this decision together with some Schneider’s employers … we thought it would be really interesting to visit two countries we have never been to and moreover both countries are developing a lot …. therefore Schneider Electic’ s presence here is very important for its future….
….. I am really happy that Schneider gave us the opportunity to visit these countries…
I am so curious to see how these countries look like, their landscape, their culture, the food…. and obviously visit Schneider’s facilities there!!
In particular, I am wondering how the business culture in these countries will be…. I would think that Brazil is somehow similar to the European… but China may be completely different!!…
Sao Paulo has just 3 hours difference from Germany, therefore it won’t be a big deal to get used to the jet lag. Once we arrive in Sao Paulo there will be someone form Schneider Electric to pick us up….
Then we will go to the Schneider Office and meet there with some employers… we are going to present them our project and so on…
.. anyway I will let you know better once we will reach Sao Paulo…
PS: I hope you all will get the chance to follow us in our daily adventures
Before the trip….2011-11-07
as you may have already read, Maria and I are going to start our trip on Wednesday…
We had to go through some preparations so far, such as get the Visa for China, make a health insurance, change money, collect information about both countries and so on ….but I hope that we almost managed everything and didn’t forget anything :)
From Wednesday onwards, we will try to regularly post here something about the trip, including pictures and videos… Hope you can all get the chance to follow us and comment our post….