Getting out of the comfort zone in Amsterdam アムステルダムで安全地帯から出る

Every second year each department at my job can go on a study trip to some destination in Europe. The newest member of the group organizes the trip. So, this week we went to Amsterdam and I was the organizer. If you read my last blog post you know that my life lately has been a bit colored by stress and anxiety. This trip was one contributing factor for two reasons. First of all I was terrified that something was going to go wrong since I am a complete control freak when it comes to travel. I even ended up carrying around my college’s passport all the trip because I thought he would have a bigger chance of loosing it than I did… hm…
私の会社のそれぞれの部署のスタッフは二年間に一回ヨーロッパの旅に行かせる。部署の一番新人を旅の計画させる。週末アムステルダムに行って、私がすべてオーガナイズした。この前のブログポストを読んだ方は私の最近の生活が少しストレスと不安で影響されたことを知っているかも。この旅はその不安の1つの原因に成った理由が二つあると思う。まず、旅の計画の担当人が私だったから、何かうまくいかないことについて不安だった。ずうっと、旅行なら支配欲が強い性格だった。旅の通じて、同僚の中の一人のパスポートをずうっと運んだ。彼のほうなくす可能性が高いかと思ったから。。。おかしいだろう、私?DSC_6109It has always been like that – whenever I go on a trip somewhere I end up organizing everything, checking time tables for trains, transport to and from airport, which restaurant to choose, which café to go to etc. Needless to say, it came in handy this time because I was all prepared and the planning of the trip went just fine. But I just wonder when I will ever get a complete trip planned for me? Probable never. But even if that would happen I would probably just feel powerless and confused. And I have to admit that when my boyfriend and I travel domestically in Japan he deals with everything, so I occasionally get the luxury of someone planning a trip for me. That will happen this Christmas for example, I’m looking forward to that🙂

DSC_6112Besides from the trip organisation in itself, I was also very nervous about one of our study visits. We visited a Dutch research institution called Deltares. I would say that they are number one in Europe when it comes to flood protection and research and considering the situation in the Netherlands they have much more money and historical knowledge for dealing with flooding. We met with a group of researchers in their office, which was surrounded by storm water ponds, and they gave us some lectures and we gave them two as well – of which I held one. So, I had a presentation about flooding (my masters’ thesis) to a group of flood researchers in Europe’s most flood prone country… Confidence not on top. Doing these kinds of performances are totally outside my comfort zone and they make me so nervous. But the presentation went really well. I didn’t mess up at all, and I didn’t even shake. Maybe I am adjusting to work life and holding presentations as a part of that? Or maybe I was too stressed recently to even have time to be nervous? Maybe that is actually it. When you have too much things on your mind, other things that actually aren’t that crucial (like the fear of making a fool out of yourself in front of a group of researchers) fade a bit. In any case I’m stepping out of my comfort zone in many ways recently and this was one. I would lie if I said I wasn’t at least a bit happy with myself.
So what about the city of Amsterdam? It was the first time I was there, it was rainy and most of the time we were out it was dark since our study visits during daytime were in other towns. But it was absolutely wonderful. The canals are really as picturesque as expected, there are nice shops and cafes and the food is good and fairly cheap. Quite a lot of beer was consumed. My colleges were pleased with the trip.

DSC_6111This cake however,  purchased due to its tasty looking appearance, really was a disappointment.  But it can’t all go well all the time. And it was still pretty..

DSC_6119Next time I go to Amsterdam I will make sure to go when there is a bit more time to explore the city during daylight. I don’t have any canal pictures that aren’t dark. And for once there is actually a picture of me. In the same manner as I always plan the trips, I always take all the photos so I come home with hundreds of pictures of everyone else and none on me. But this time my college grabbed my camera and insisted that I should be in one. That was nice🙂

DSC_6133Our second study visit was to the huge Maeslantkering storm surge barrier in Holland which protects Rotterdam from being flooded every 10 years or so. It’s the biggest moving construction in the world and it consists of two huge arms closing together in the river, creating a wall, whenever the water is too high. It was hard to get a good picture of how huge it is, but here you can see my college standing under one of it’s arms. If you are interested in either big constructions or flood protection in general I recommend a visit to the site, it was truly interesting.
研究センターいがい、Maeslantkeringというデッカイロッテルダムを守っているバリアの見学もした。水の壁になって、世界中の一番大きな動ける構造だ。大きすぎて写真なかなか取らなかったけどバリアの1つの腕の下に立っている同僚が下記に写っている。デッカイ構造や洪水防止に興味があるなら、行ってみたほうが良いと思う。DSC_6142 DSC_6144 DSC_6145 DSC_6146Back to talking about Amsterdam. We also went to the National Museum. Their main attraction was their Rembrandt paintings but there were also some Van Gogh. The building in itself is quite amazing as well.

DSC_6170DSC_6169 As for the food I ate Indonesian for the first time. I can’t believe that I have never eaten this cuisine before! It was extremely tasty! After Japanese and Indian this might just be my new favorite. The next activity in Stockholm will probably be to find a good Indonesian restaurant and enjoy the great flavors of ginger, soy, tempeh, vegetables and fish again.
食べ物と言ったら初めてインドネシア料理食べた。いったいなぜ今まで食べていなかったの?!超美味しかった!和食とインド料理が一番好きだけど、それからインドネシア料理が気に入っているかも。ストックホルムのレストランに次行く時、インドネシアのレストランを探しましょう。小が、醤油、テンペ、野菜、魚、美味しい!DSC_6175Tomorrow is work again. After an intense weekend with almost no sleep and a tight schedule. And on Tuesday I’m going to Copenhagen for a conference. I don’t know when I’m going to have time to go home to my parents and soak in the approaching Christmas feeling without missing out on something else such as enjoying a cozy December in Stockholm. Always these choices of where to be and not and what to do and not. And as usual there is too much to do at work, which is good because then I stop worrying about small things, such as presentation anxiety. But at the moment if all feels a bit overwhelming, especially with all the responsibility. Some days the added responsibility makes me feel empowered and like I have all the possibilities in the world, and some days I just want to run away to another country leaving everything behind. These bipolar emotions are tiresome. But hey, it’s soon Christmas. Christmas will be nice.

5 thoughts on “Getting out of the comfort zone in Amsterdam アムステルダムで安全地帯から出る

  1. Having suffered from anxiety and a fear of anger and being attacked (in other words, PTSD), I can emphasize with your feelings of anxiety. Anxiety, by the way often arises with depression but my depression lasted only a year. It took much longer to come to grips with the anxiety. But I can tell you that getting older does help in reducing anxiety levels.

    What helps more, however, is taking up a mental discipline like meditation or mindfulness. Through these I have learnt non-attachment to anxiety and fear by realizing they are just thoughts in my head. They do not reflect any real world wherein these feelings are justified.

    The trick is to get to a point where you can just observe your thoughts and feelings without pushing them away or getting overwhelmed by them. That takes time but time spent on this is rewarded by greater peace of mind.

    Always remember that mental wellness is a life long journey.

    1. Hi again and thank you for commenting and sharing your wise thoughts🙂 And I’m sorry to hear about your anxiety problems but glad to hear that you could find ways to deal with it.

      Actually, I’ve been wanting to give mindfulness an honest try for a long time. Mainly because I’ve understood that it can help with understanding and preventing illogical behavior. For example, I tend to eat a lot when I’m bored although I’m not hungry and actually not even craving the food in question and then I feel sick because I ate too much. I know this is a much more trivial application than that of reducing anxiety but getting to know what you actually feel (in this case if you are actually hungry) is what I sometimes have problems with knowing. Also, I’ve understood that mindfulness can help you appreciate things more. And in the case of food, I know I sometimes swallow an entire dish without thinking about flavors or texture of the food, which is just a pity really because eating is so nice if you enjoy it properly…

      Somehow I focus a lot on food lately, I wonder why ^_^

      Anyhow, decision making is tough for me and I have a hard time making choices at times. Can mindfulness help with this? To make you aware of what you actually want (if you have two choices for example?)

      Lately I’ve started doing the mindfulness breathing exercises at times and hopefully i can move on to a deeper level and get some help from it🙂

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