Frankfurt spring/summer 2007

Trip Start Nov 01, 2006
Trip End Dec 31, 2008

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Saturday, August 25, 2007

Spring/summer 2007 in Frankfurt
I am writing this next episode of our travelogue in the train from Denver to Chicago in August 2007. 8 Months have passed since our last story and it is about time to let you know how things are in our neck of the woods......
All work, no play.....
Since spending the X-mas break in Kauns (Austria), life's been pretty busy (that's something new, isn't it ;-). As far as work goes: Kat's assumed a position in the management team of the Dutch Krauthammer office. This means that she's in Holland pretty often (how practical....) and has to spend about 2 weeks per month in the Dutch office with her team. It's a really nice challenge for her and so far, it's been a great way to develop some new skills. As for myself, life at Nike moves fast as well: after spending about 6 months in my 'new' sales job in Germany, they offered me a new job with responsibility of the football category for Germany, Austria, Switzerland and Slovenia. Since this role combines marketing and sales and will turn into a general manager role quickly with a bigger focus on 'categories' like football (with Nike you never know.....), this seemed like a great opportunity for me. Since May, I've also done my old sales job on the side, so that explains why you haven't heard from us sooner......
Of course, the study program has also been a steady factor in our lives this year. In May, we concluded our first academic year, which felt pretty good. We wanted to use the summer months to get ahead and write our 'thesis' (final paper on a topic of choice, normally done after the second year). But with the new jobs we both didn't get to it whatsoever. Oh well, next summer then. The balance of the first year was very positive: we love to study together (in the beginning our study mates pointed at their head, but now they see the advantages of studying together, bouncing ideas off each other and exchanging info etc.), the content is great and teaches us a lot and the quality of the program is very good. Writing in the train from Denver to Chicago we're actually on our way to Chicago for 2 weeks of study at Northwestern University, where Kellogg is based. There students from all the Kellogg programs around the world (Hong Kong, Tel Aviv, Toronto, Frankfurt) get together for an 'in residency' studyblock. Should be a lot of fun. 
Still a bit of play though......
On the friends & family side of life, it's been a fairly 'dry' year. It's a side of our life that we're not really happy with, but that we'll have to accept during the time of the study program. Out of necessity, we have to keep life pretty simple and 'one dimensional', meaning a big focus on work during the week and studying on the weekend. A very cool side effect of living in Frankfurt of course is that we can spend a lot of time in Bärbach with Uli. It feels like in the old college days: spending the weekend home with mom, getting fed very well, having the laundry done. Uli is very happy to see us and she supports us in a tremendous way. Now the only hope she has is that we get done studying quickly and have babies. We can only tell her that we're working on it.....;-)
We have found some time to do some high quality and very fun things with friends and family though:
- We went skiing with a group of our study mates at the end of March (Sölden, Austria), which was great fun and a good way to get away from the eternal talk about 'financial ratio's' and 'return on investment'.
- Kat and I went to Kauns (Austria) at the end of May for a few days to enjoy the mountains and a bit of quiet
- We had our annual Bärbach weekend at the end of June with Martin&Femke, Arjen&Lisette, Laurens&Cynthia&Liv and Bas&Nicole. It was great to see them again and although we missed Gus&Kim (they were in the US, showing Kim's pregnant belly to the family), Leon&Marise (they just had a daughter Doortje) and Tijn&Kris (they were in the US for a relaunch of the Ode magazine), it was super to catch up and sit at the campfire at 4:00 in the morning again
- We went to the birthday of Jade, Aiko and Jean Paul at Asoek&Paul's house in the beginning of July. We stayed with Ada&Rob and saw the whole family
- Kat went hiking with her 'girlgroup' in Austria for a week at the end of July, which is also an annual ritual for them  

As of the last week of July, we went on vacation in the US (preceding our Kellogg program as of the 2nd week of August). We flew into San Francisco, where we stayed for 2 days and explored the city by bike and foot. Then we rented a car (you have to have a convertible in California.....) and drove down Highway 1 along the coast to Santa Barbara. There we stayed with John&Suzanne and their lovely daughters Margaux and Audrey for a few days. How great to see them again! We hung out at the beach and played some volleyball, BBQ'ed with Gary&Hermine, played with the girls in the garden, cooked up some European specialties, had our classic conversations about world events and our place in history and enjoyed seeing all of them again a lot! How awesome it is to cherish such great friendships over the course of time, really something to be grateful for. After our stop in Santa Barbara we continued our road trip to Las Vegas. This city seems to be the ultimate in what is excessive about mankind: drinking, eating, gambling, shopping, sex. And all of that until you drop. The vibe in this city felt pretty negative for the both of us, so we got out of there as soon as we could. Then we drove through Arizona (land of flat plains and beautiful rosa sunsets) to the Grand Canyon. We did a 12 mile hike across the rim of Grand Canyon, which gave us a magnificent view of the Canyon at all times. Man, this place is very special. The oldest rockformations date back 1.7 billion years and others have built on top, a really special sight. It was also pretty hot (100 F, 35 C), so as the quintessential heat loving 'lobster' I was really enjoying it..... Our next stop was to be Colorado (Rocky Mountain National Park). We sort of took it easy and visited some typical US villages on the way to have coffee etc. That is such a neat thing about a road trip: you get to see places that you normally won't see, it's really a good way to breathe in the country and experience it to the fullest. In Colorado, we stayed in a lovely cottage right on the border of Rocky Mountain National Park on a small river overlooking the mountains. One of the main reasons to come to Colorado though, was to see Kristin (an old friend from my days at Lawrence University) and get to know her husband Steve (they got married on the exact same day as we did). They also didn't know Kat yet, so I wanted them to meet her too. We had dinner in Boulder (where Steve works for Google) and it was fantastic to see them. We had great conversations like we had seen each other yesterday and the night flew by way too fast. Wow, how dear some friendships can be to your heart, even though you don't see each other every day. Just before catching the train to Chicago we stopped by at their house for a cup of tea and this hour went by way too fast again. I'm sure this wasn't the last we've seen of or heard from each other though and that's a great feeling to have......
In the past two weeks, we had our 'international live in week' at Kellogg (on the campus of Northwestern University in Chicago). This 2 week program is the first of our international modules (we'll go to Hong Kong in December, Tel Aviv in January and Toronto in February) and the official beginning of the second (and last!) year of the program. Since the program is organized by Kellogg School of Management, they always have the first international module in Chicago, where fellow students from Hong Kong (60), Tel Aviv (50), the US (70) and Toronto (20) get together for a 2 week program. It was a very inspiring 2 weeks: we met a ton of new very interesting people, studied negotiations, crisis management and alliance management, went out in Chicago and enjoyed being students all over again. We came home this morning and Kat has already left again for Krauthammer University in Münich. I'm afraid that the 'good times' are over for the moment, but they will return. Until then, remember to live like there is no tomorrow, to dance like no one is watching and to love like you've never been hurt...... Big hugs from Arne & Kat.
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