I went to Cologne for a 4-month project. It was my first trip outside the country so I was very much excited. And it didn’t fail me!
Cologne can be found along the banks of the Rhine River. It is famous for the Cologne Cathedral (Dom) which is the seat of the Catholic Archbishop of Cologne. The city is rich in arts and culture and has more than 30 museums. It is also famous for the original Eau de Cologne (water of cologne). This was very popular during the 18th century and was exported all over Europe.
First Impression. My initial impression of Cologne came from my seat mate at the plane. He dropped some of his stuffs while sitting down so I helped him. He gave me a kindly smile and handed some chocolates as thank you. Aww… so sweet! The next day, I went to walk outside to check my office location and strangers were kindly smiling at me. So what registered in my mind is that Cologne has very warm people. I pretty much have the same opinion of them throughout my stay in this city.
Many Firsts. Cologne was my first business trip (thanks HP!) and I arrived in Cologne early March giving me my first snow! I remember Jerome and I were trying to capture snow falling on our fingers but never got a good picture coz the snow melted! Hmmm… it was also the first time ever I finished a bottle of beer (the famous Kölsch) which Nikki and I drank with our good-looking French customer. I was also privileged to experience the 2005 World Youth Day in Cologne and Howie Severino featured my picture in one of his blogs (proud moment even though that shot was an accident.)
What else? Well, I ate venison steak (bambi – huhu!) with brussel sprouts… got locked within the office grounds with Jerome (on a cold spring night)… got a proposal from a Belgian which I politely declined (he was joking, of course!) and met many new friends from different nationalities in this amazing place.
Learnings. Cologne taught me that people from various races and backgrounds are more similar than different. Strangers are friends you just haven’t met yet. Love, friendship, respect, honesty and caring are universal truths. Being open minded leads to roads of self discovery.
Cologne became my home for 4 months and I will be forever grateful to the friends who made me feel welcome. I am looking for ward to the day that I get to visit this beautiful city again. ❤