Going to Europe

Amsterdam, Dam Square

(Posted on Jun 12, 2011)

I’ve been keeping this under wraps for a while as I wanted to wait until everything is confirmed before announcing anything.

As of this Sunday (19 June, 2011), I’ll be traveling to Europe! Holland, Amsterdam to be specific. And I’ll be traveling in the region for three months, after which I may head over to the UK for a few more months, as I’m eligible to stay in the UK for six months without a visa. *Starts cheering*

It’s really exciting for me because this is the first time I visiting the Western part of the world. Some of you may recall from my Vision Board video that Europe is next on my travel list. And it’s now finally coming true!

The truth is, I’ve always wanted to experience life overseas for an extended period of time ever since I was a student — to experience life in a different country and immerse in the local culture. When I was in university, I planned to go overseas for exchange but didn’t do so in the end as I skipped my honors year and graduated a year earlier than expected. NUS, or any university for that matter, does not allow students to go on exchange in their last year, so this goal never came to fruition.

Yet, it remained a lingering intention to be fulfilled one day.

Ever since I graduated from university, I’ve traveled the Asia Pacific, largely the Greater China and ASEAN region, thanks to my previous job. I feel like I’ve seen a good breadth of countries in the Asia region, and have been eager to check out the Western part of the world.

This year, I decided to put this goal into action. After two years of working on my business, I feel like I’m finally in the perfect place to do that. One, I have steady streams of passive income (from my ebook sales and advertising). Two, I’m not geographically bound to a place with my work — and it’s by deliberate design. Meaning, I don’t need to be at a particular location to do my work. I can blog from anywhere in the world, just as I can do my 1-1 coaching anywhere, as long as I have my laptop and an internet connection.

I used to have ongoing speaking engagements and coaching work that required me to be in Singapore, but I’ve been ending these arrangements in the past few months as I don’t want to be geographically bounded. I want to be able to do my work and pursue my personal goals at the same time.

So finally, it has come to the point where I’m ready to realize my personal goal to travel overseas. Originally my intention was to travel to New York sometime in June-July and stay there for a few months. I was even preparing to apply for a US visa earlier this year.

As fate would have it, I was recently invited to speak at a Learning Conference in Holland, Amsterdam by de Baak (a training institute there). The engagement is taking place on 21 June and all expenses will be graciously paid for by de Baak. (Thanks Wouter and Harry!)

Since I’m going to Holland now, I thought I might as well change my travel plans — to be frank, either Europe or U.S. works for me since I have not been to either place before. After the conference ends, I’ll be staying in Europe for 11 weeks, since three months is the maximum period I can be in the EU without a visa (it’s too late to apply for a visa now).

I have not checked if my return flight is changeable — if it is, I may shift it out by a few months and visit the UK, where I’m eligible to stay for six months on a Singapore passport without a visa. Whether I go to the UK or not, I’ll definitely be in Europe for the next three months in the baseline scenario.

So that’s it! Hello to Europe, and bye to Singapore for now! I’m not sure if there are any readers from Europe here — if you are from the region, please come and say hello in the PE Forums. Feel free to share any tips on staying in Europe — I’m all ears!

What am I planning to do in the three months there? It’ll mainly be to experience and immerse in the local culture in Europe. I’m not a backpacker-style traveler and I’m not interested to comb X countries in Y days either — I don’t find any fun in rushing through travel. I’m the sort who prefers to stay put in a place and immerse in what it has to offer.

I’ll check out Holland in the first few weeks, after which I may take weekend trips to neighboring countries if I get bored while I’m there (namely France, Germany, and possibly Italy). But this is just a backup plan for now. My main plan is to hang out in Holland and enjoy the place.

Will I be blogging about the trip? It depends. If there are any personal growth lessons I pick up along the way, I’ll surely be writing about them. I don’t think I’ll be explicitly writing about the trip, though I certainly will share an experience or two, where relevant. After all, Personal Excellence is about sharing the lessons I learn in life through what I experience.

Right now I’m just really excited about what’s up. I haven’t packed my luggage nor done any major preparation yet, though I imagine it’s going to get really busy next week before I fly off.

Jun 14, 2011: All your responses have been overwhelming! Thank you so much for your well wishes!

Since the post went online two days ago, I’ve received numerous emails and recommendations from EU readers and past EU coaching clients. Because of that, my itinerary is also rapidly changing as well. After strong recommendations to visit Germany from all of you,  I’m planning for a multi-stop trip: first to Holland for a month, then Germany (possibly for a month), and next either to another country or back to Amsterdam, depending on how the trip goes.

Jul 1, 2011: I just wrote a 7-part Holland Travel Series, check it out! It shares my tips on how to travel to Holland, the dutch culture, dutch lifestyle, dutch environment, and essential things to know about the country.

Nov 7, 2011: After five months, I’ve just finished my Europe travels, and ended up staying in Holland, Germany, France/Paris, Spain, and London in the past 4.5 months. I also had two London meet-ups with PE readers while I was there! (Here are pictures of meetup #1 and meetup #2). It’s been a great ride and I really enjoyed my stay. I’ve made many wonderful connections during my time there and I’m sure this won’t be the last time I’ll be here. For now, I’m off to US — will see what adventures await there. ;)

Jan 25, 2012: I’m finally back in Singapore after my almost three-month long travels in US: covering east coast (Philadelphia, Washington DC, New York City, Boston) and west coast (Los Angeles, San Francisco). I also did a speaking engagement with Wharton Business School while I was there. It has been a great 7-month long travel. For now I see myself staying put in SG for awhile. Here’s to a tropical climate, consistently (warm) weather, and nice, predictable routines. :)

(Image: Amsterdam)