Welcome to my second post dedicated to young professionals looking for their place in the world. I blogged about my first year in America in October 2014. It got many views and very positive feedback. Here, I am summarizing my second year on the other side of the pond: the good, the bad, and the exciting. Let’s go!
FREE PHONE FROM GOOGLE
I appreciate how customers are valued in America. Here is my story. Once I dropped my Google phone. Not on purpose. The screen cracked. I contacted Google to ask about the warranty. Guess what? They said to simply send the broken phone back; they are sending me a new one. For free. Immediately. How cool is that?
CHEAPER FLIGHTS TO EUROPE
All of October I was in constant travel mood; booking flights and boarding spaceships. My mood was further enhanced by the introduction of regular sub-$500 return flights between Europe and America. I secured a $390 deal to Denmark in June. Bday in Europe? Let’s celebrate!
POCAHONTAS IN THE JUNGLE
Americans celebrate Turkey Day in November. I celebrate Turkey Day in Brazil. As always, Brazil was a cool adventure. First, we met with my friends around Sao Paulo to practice samba. Next was Curitiba; I was offered a modeling job there. Afterward, a 4-day carnival party in Florianopolis. The final mission was to find a Pocahontas in the jungle. In America, Tinder would do. In Brazil, I ate larvas, practiced swinging on lianas, and even learned Portuguese phrases. Tinder was inaccessible in the jungle, though. Bummer.
Engineers use Simulink to design cars, spaceships, and other complex devices. I was developing Simulink dependency viewer: software that shows dependencies among systems; it helps engineers to understand the structure of Simulink models. I learned a lot and iterated quickly. It was very rewarding to work on software that engineers need. I find traveling cool, but writing useful programs is as enjoyable!
GOING DEEP IN CAYMAN ISLANDS
That was the best planned Christmas in my life. Months in advance I signed up for an online diving course. I passed the written exam with flying colors. End of December I dove in warm Caribbean waters to get diver’s certificate. Not only got I the certificate, I also got sunburned, saw the actual Batmobile, petted friendly stingrays, and flew a helicopter. If someone tells you that unplanned trips are the best, don’t believe them :-)
NEVER DRIVE IN VIRGINIA
New Year’s eve in New York City was a decent idea. As we woke up January 1, we drove to Tennessee to get cowboy hats. I was stopped by a cop in Virginia. He said I was going too fast and charged me with reckless driving. Virginia treats fast driving as a crime (high fines, license suspension, and jail time are an option). Ridiculous! I was summoned to the court. I prepared well, however; got a lawyer, calibrated the speedometer, and provided my clean driving record. The judge reduced the charges to regular speeding. Total cost? $1500. Driving in Virginia was the worst thing that has happened to me in America. Uncool.
BUILDING PYRAMIDS IN MEXICO
January was cold in Boston. I headed to Cancun to get some tan. That’s what Americans do. We met there with Peter, got a jeep, and loaded red Don Julio gasolina. We were ready to build pyramids. Apart from being a party place, Cancun offers coconuts, cool jungles, unique cenotes, and decent burritos. Recommended!
2 WEEKS, 5 CARNIVALS, WINTER OF THE CENTURY
The hottest place on Earth in February? Brazil. No contest. Pre-pre-carnival street parties in Campinas, pre-carnival in Fortaleza on the fantastic north-east shore, crazy carnival in Salvador, less-crazy carnival in Praia do Rosa in the south, and very fun after-carnival in São Paulo. That was my February. Here is the best part: all of that was happening during winter of the century in Boston. Ah, and Brazilians are the friendliest!
SEAN PAUL PARTY AND SPACESHIPS
Canadian friends showed up in Boston again. We went to New York again. Party weekend again. Everything has been done before. Kkinda. Friday night we went to a Jamaican party with Sean Paul. Saturday we were building statues of liberty, manhattans, and other crap. 3am we drove to DC to visit Barack, NSA, and the actual spaceships. I was impressed by the size of the shuttle Discovery. Bigger than Donald Trump’s ego.
BACK IN TIME
Don’t remember how, but I found online this picture from the daycare. It was taken probably around 1991. I was 5 then. No idea what kind of party it was, but looks wild. Where is Kacper in the picture? :-)
WATERING CACTUSES IN VEGAS
I’m not gonna lie. I had been longing for this Arizona and Nevada trip. Phoenix greeted us with Don Julio gasolina, burritos, and loud parties. We rented a Mustang convertible to get some tan, and to explore deserts, canyons, rocks, and dams. We made sure to water each and every cactus on the way to Las Vegas. Vegas is a funny, kitschy, and unreal place. It’s a bubble in the middle of the desert. A bubble that I enjoy very much.
F1 RACE TRACK IN MONTREAL
Last weekend of April we did a quick road-trip to Montreal. It is one of my favorite cities in North America. It’s got european feel, friendly people, good looking girls, lots of fun events, very decent nightlife, and quality food. All the good qualities that Toronto lacks. We ended up on the F1 race track to test drive the camaro engine.
We flew down to Dallas to eat steaks, and to transport watermelons to Albuquerque in New Mexico; 1000km away. In Dallas only pickup trucks are allowed, and that’s what we got. On our way, we were towing vintage trucks thru the legendary route 66. We ate texmex whenever possible. We also installed the longest tramway in the world on Sandia Peak, and inspected nuclear bombs at Los Alamos Laboratory.
GOING BACK TO THE FUTURE IN CANADA
I am always happy to visit my alma mater and my former lab in Waterloo. It is a wonderful lab and they do very cool things there; including car- and airplane-related software. I also got a chance to meet up with old friends, make some new ones, and party every day. Waterloo got cooler. Fo sho.
Finally, I made it to Europe to celebrate my birthday at the Distortion festival in Copenhagen. I barely woke up the next day, and I already had to fly to Poland to say hi to parents. Poland is a fun place with friendly folks and superior nightlife. Next stop was in Greece. In Greece the girls are sweet. We did a cool road-trip and almost made it to Albania. That country, however, was closed after 10pm. I then teleported to Budapest to eat some Gulasz. Afterward, I flew to Dubai to drive camels, do 4×4 off-roading on the desert, and to build Burj Khalifa. I got a bit sweaty, so went to Bulgaria to cool down and to experience Eastern Europe.
I headed to Romania to visit Dracula, Borat, and to explore Transylvania. The landscapes were stunning. I drove on some of the most enjoyable roads: Transfagarasan and Transalpina. I then briefly stopped in Dublin to cook kinder surprise eggs with Magdalenka. Finally, I went back to the future in Copenhagen to recelebrate my birthday. The whole trip was a great success. Why? Due to a combination of old friends, cool parties, new friends, road-trips, new experiences, the nature, and a variety of cultures. Fun-wise, Europa >> America.
I was away for most of June; similarly to February and November. You may think that I have no time for work. It’s not completely true :-) In fact, when I don’t travel, I am very productive at work. I like the company, and, apparently, the company likes me. After 1.5 years of employment, they offered to sponsor my green card so I can stay in the US indefinitely. I celebrated this offer by getting a very american tank on July 4. Thank you.
FRYING EGGS IN DEATH VALLEY
We were meeting up with Canadian nurses in Los Angeles on July 4 to celebrate the Independence day. Their idea was to learn surfing. My idea was to go to Death Valley to fry eggs on our jeep’s hood. It was hell. At 5pm the temperature was still around 50C. Later, we made it to Las Vegas and went to Zedd’s show. XS was the most overwhelming and coolest club I have been to. People were dressed up. I was wearing a fake suit-with-tie t-shirt. Everyone genuinely thought it was the coolest shit they have seen in their lives.
Happiness and fast cars is pretty much the same thing. I always find acceleration and speed thrilling. No more traveling for me for the coming year. Instead, I want to channel my energy into getting a faster car. I need a practical daily driver. I’m considering either Porsche Cayman S or Corvette C7. I am leaning toward the latter for its better performance, more exotic styling, brutal V8 engine, and this obnoxious exhaust. Your pick?
I had never bothered with airmiles and credit card welcome offers. Till June. Since then, I have done a lot of research and wised up. My results? 3 months later I ended up with 100,000 free airmiles from credit card welcome offers, 50,000 from airlines, and 10,000 from shopping. That amounts to a free return flight to Brazil, two flights within Brazil, 2-day Mustang convertible rental in San Francisco, and my future flight to Australia. Where do you get deals like that? Only in America.
I cannot live without expanding my education and knowledge. I always feel the urge to learn something new and to grow. I gave massive open online courses a shot on Coursera. I signed up for their prominent Machine Learning course. The course itself is very well done. I find the idea of MOOCs absolutely fantastic. Great free online courses are offered by top universities. Revolution in education is happening now. Check it out!
Americans celebrate hard work on Labor day long weekend in September. I went to San Francisco to work hard, to look for gold, and to make wine. At the airport, I picked up my free (airmiles) Mustang convertible. I did a road-trip from San Francisco, through the Pacific Highway, Yellowstone, mountainous roads, and Napa Valley. California has some of the most exciting roads out there. There is nothing quite as liberating as driving a fast convertible on scenic roads on a sunny day while blasting energizing music. Freedom!
STARGAZING IN ACADIA
Together with my colleagues we went to Acadia National Park to watch stars and search for black holes. Guess what, on our way there, we got a speeding ticket. It wasn’t me this time.
TO UNDERSTAND THE FUTURE, WE HAVE TO GO BACK IN TIME
I didn’t know much about West Virginia. It’s a state with mountains and jungles. We went there to look for aliens using the biggest radio telescope, to measure the New River Gorge Bridge, to make flour in state park mills, and to enjoy driving on curvy mountainous roads. West Virginia is a very different kind of America.
disclaimer for all the confused: in the picture above, it’s a jacket with decorations, not uniform
That’s all folks! Within my second year I got a chance to visit many remarkable places and cities in the US. It is a huge and beautiful country, indeed. Living on the other side of the pond may be an enjoyable experience. If you follow the rules, that is. I still think that America offers unparalleled opportunities and decent qualify of life. Do I miss Europe? Some things for sure. Would I miss America if I ever moved back to Europe? Some things for sure!