Preparing for a new chapter in my life
I'm turning 28 years old next week (time flies by so fast!), and looking back at the last 5 years of my life I've been fortunate to have incredible people come into my life, I've out grown childhood and university friends, I've met people from all around the world, of different religions, cultures, values, and ways of life, I fell in and out of love, I've experienced new beginnings by moving to Israel, Thailand, China, and back to Thailand (and don't believe that I'm done moving), I've had friends invest and support my business, and cheer on friends and family that have achieved happiness (varies in definition) by getting married, having children, climb the corporate ladder, go to grad school, and travel the world. I guess 28 is not a "big deal" but I plan to spend the next 2 years focused on my business, and continue to maintain and invest in relationships with genuine people.
Acquaintances, business associates, mentors/advisor and friends
I can honestly count the number of people I consider my genuine friends, and when I say friends, I mean we don't have to talk all the time because we're scattered around the world, doing amazing things, we care about each other, give constructive criticism, and have a shared experience that cemented our life-long friendship. What I love most about my friends is that, when we do get together, we just pick up from where we left off, and have good fun. However, as an adult it's incredibly hard to maintain or create new friendships because we're all have limited time. When I moved to Israel, it was easy to meet people because I lived on campus, and through social activities (shout out to my Zumba group!) I made friends after spending hours talking over tea and sweets at cafes, gone on field trips, hiked up the many paths of Mount Carmel, and bond together over Friday night dinner and BBQ, that established our friendships. And thanks to social media, we're still in touch.
When I moved to Thailand, it was very difficult in the beginning because it was my first time on my own living in a big city, I just got a new teaching job and all my co-workers were older, married, and lived in the suburbs, and it took months before I landed a group of acquaintances to have lunch with. I think being an expat, people come and go, so people don't want to invest energy in others that aren't here for the long-term, or connect with people that they don't necessarily have common interests, or at the same life stage (I only have one married friend with a child, our only commonality is both our partners work in the hi-tech sector, so it's easy for double dates). After 2 years of "Olympic networking" and actively being part of different communities I know who my friends, acquaintances, business associates, mentors/advisor are.
Dating & Relationship
So, I've written about my partner and how supportive he is, how egalitarian our relationship is, and how female entrepreneurs (especially in foreign lands) cannot do business like men....you know, by marrying a local (read my article on this topic HERE). Instead we can build business relationships and friendship with local women (in my case Thai female entrepreneurs) and join communities focused on empowering women in business, tech, VC, or high level positions because having a circle of friends/cheerleaders, community, and mentors are so important for women entrepreneurs.
It's important we keep in mind that no one can "do it all" or "have it all" and it's great to have friends but also I think it's healthy for women entrepreneurs to have someone in their life that genuinely cares about them, and see them beyond their academic, financial, or successful career. Am I a feminist? (I believe classism is a much bigger problem then sexism). Not exactly because I recognise to be successful everyone gets some kind of help, whether it's from family money, family connects, alumni connections, friend connections, simple luck of being in the right place at the right time, everyone has help. Essentially, there are benefits to being in a relationship or marriage (with the right person of course), so don't limit yourself.
As always, thanks for reading!
And please share :)
Adventure in Germany
Happy New Year everyone! I'm very happy to be back in Bangkok :) I missed the crowded chaos and hustle of the city! Oh, and the warm weather too! Germany overall was like a cultural exchange experience as I stayed with 2 former classmates, one from undergrad the other from grad school and their families. Living with a German family I got a personal insight of German life: I learned a little German (both my friends are teachers), breathed a lot of fresh air (every 20 minutes my hosts would open the doors or windows for fresh cold air), learned a lot about German bread, cookies, carbonated water and appliances one would only find in a German kitchen, I spent less time on my phone and social media, and went for walks in the forests, old castles, and around town. It was nice experience and will definitely return to Germany, but in the summer time!
Adventure in Finland
Not before long, I met my partner in Helsinki, Finland where he showed me around the city, full of cafe's, restaurants, outdoor markets, and people, young and old, dressed very warmly making the best of the cold and dark January (there was about 6 hours of sunlight). What struck me most about Finland was how mothers and fathers, pushing their very insulated baby carriages. My partner explained in Finnish culture parents would sometimes leave carriages outsides because the cold weather enabled babies to sleep better and the fresh air was good for the lungs (in American, if a parent left their child unattend, people would call the police!) and no matter how cold it was outside, like -20 Celsius, children played outside. But, the longer I stayed and explored the great outdoors of Finland, I came to appreciate the cold and of course the saunas! Finns that I met, through my partner, at Microsoft Flux, a co-working space I worked out during the day, at my morning reform Pilates class, and a Sauna explained that Finnish summers are the best and I must come back to experience it. Finland, in January reminded me a bit of home, Massachusetts, but there was not much snow :/ On a Facebook post, I wrote 6 fun facts I learned about Finland, for those that aren't my friends, here is the list below:
1. Finland has a population of 5.5 million people, majority of the population are Finns, with a Swedish minority. Other minority groups include Sami people, Russians, Romas (Gypsies), Jews, expats, and now refugees (not as many as Germany)
2. Finland is not part of Scandinavia, like Sweden, Norway, and Denmark, rather it's a Nordic country. And the language is closely related to, Karelian and Estonian, with a distant similarity to Hungarian. The two official languages are Finnish and Swedish. English is widely spoken as children start at 8/9 so its quite easy to get around as an English speaker.
3. Finland is widely known for is education system, and continues to top 5 in PISA exams. There is a reason behind this 🙂 In short, children dont go to school until 6/7 years old, as they want children to enjoy their childhood. Teachers go through a rigorous teacher training, are well paid and, are respected as professionals, and school lunch is free for all children.
Child care is heavily subsidized by the government, mothers and fathers have paid maternity and paternity leave, and with paid benefits. The most important factor is that every mother receives a baby box: clothes, blankets, diapers, toys, books, and more. So every baby has an equal start in life. And the health of mothers and children are monitored and screened for years, so the infant mortality rate is one of the lowest in the world. Finland has universal health care and all schools provide quality education despite income of parents.
4. Fun fact, to build resilience and health of babies mothers leave children in carriages outside. Because the cold and fresh air is healthy and babies sleep better. Despite the cold you will see children very warmly dressed outside playing, and very insulated baby carriages of mothers and fathers with their babies.
5. Finland last year celebrated 100 years of independence from Russia, and prior to Russian occupation was part of Sweden and it's monarchy. Once Finland won independence it spent many years in turmoil, wars, civil war, famines, and a very poor country that was agricultural based. It was not until the 1960s with a new economic strategy to create a welfare state and educate and create a skilled population.
6. Finland has come a very long way, and has created world class companies and brands that include: Linux, MYSQL, Nokia, Moomin, Angry Birds, and Kone. And well-known for its sauna culture. In fact, there are about 3 million saunas in Finland 😮.
Back in Bangkok
I don't like to waste time so when I got back to Bangkok, I immediately unpacked, washed my clothes, took a nap, and got straight to work. Doing business in Bangkok, one has be on the ground and more "hands on" to keep projects on schedule. For the last 3 months I've been redesigning everything for Healthy Hair Asia, and finally things are coming together as I envisioned. And will have an official launch party in March so you will have to stay tuned!
Now with the New Year, I created a "to do list" because 2017 was a scary yet exciting year, but I want 2018 to be a year with more stability and authenticate the relationships I've been building for the last 2 years, personal and professional. What exactly does that mean? Well, in regards to stability, one goal is to register my startup and have a place to operate it. This is quite ambitious, but if one sets the bar low, they will definitely reach it, setting high is a challenge I'm willing to take! As for relationship, I will write more about that in my next post :) It will definitely a great read for those that like my straight talk and unapologetic post :) Dating and relationships is something that I always wanted to write about :)
As always, thank you for reading!