Have you been working in project with people around the world without eben meeting them in person but you have a good connection with them?
I did and it was amazing experience.
I was working in Global IT department with projects in Melbourne, Lausanne, Balingen, Buenos Aires, and more. I was very grateful interacting with amazing people, including the one i would meet in Antwerp.
We were working at several projects together then extended to social media interaction and get to know each other more in personal level. He is someone that you can have great discussion with, has the combination of open minded, willingness to listen, great knowledge and wisdom.
He just got assigned in an office in Antwerp and when i passed Antwerp i asked if we could meet. We planned to meet over dinner. And we plan to meet in Antwerp Central Station. What is so funny was he gave me a video of flashmob in the place we would meet so i would have idea how it looks like. In the end of video, there was this text saying “wait for Maria on Wednesday”. It was indeed a Wednesday and Maria is also one of my name. What a coincidence!
The reason of meeting in the train station was because he and his girlfriend just came back from Paris, and it was very close with where i stayed. But, unfortunately we could not meet for dinner. There was an accident in Paris train station, an apparent suicide (not sure which one, i think its Gare du Nord, since Antwerp is north of Paris). It disturpted the lines and caused significant delay. We tried to find different schedule to meet, bit i need to go to Brussel on the next morning and he would have a meeting in the next morning. I said to him, “Its ok. Maybe next time.” But the he said, “How about a drink? If it is not too late for you. I will let you know once the train departed from Paris.” I said, “It is ok.” Then after a few hours, we met.
It is always nice to put a face on a name that you know. Imagine there is a Facebook profile that you interacting with but there is no photo. And one day, there is a recent photo uploaded. “Aha! Thats you!” Thats what it felt like.
When you know someone from work, most of the times work setting gives some boundaries in the conversation. Either you need to be in certain topics, perspective, or even some expected behavior. Not to mention office politics with certain agenda.
Our conversation of course include something from work even though it was over great Belgium beers. The difference was it was more direct, more honest. We talked about the project we have done together. We talked like a friend, not a coworker or colleague. It was short two hours but it was really nice. And indeed it was always great to catch up with friends.
Antwerp city itself was a nice little city. When i was there during December, the Christmas market was awesome. There were some music performances. I remembered a groovy musical performance there (see my instagram). They where really fun to watch. From what i understood, the would have concert afterwards in the church very close with the market. I also love its Stadsfeestzaal. It is a shopping center with a very nice architecture where you can enjoy over a coffee in very nice cafe inside.
Antwerp is not as big as Brussel or Amsterdam, but it has this small and warm city vibe, like Freiburg in Germany. I personally like Antwerp more compare to big cities, including maybe Brussels. Why maybe? Because we are not in Brussels yet! It will be in the next post! See ya soon!