The truth is that I wanted to spend my income traveling around neighboring European cities I visited 12 European cities by the end of my internship. For example, laundry cost a fortune in pesos in Germany! All that amounted to P for laundry a week! I turned the hotel tub into a washing bin and scrubbed my clothes with hotel soap and shampoo.
The water turned brown and murky — how are my clothes this dirty?! I had never hand washed a load of clothes in my life. Hell, I only learned how to use a washing machine in the US. I was prepared to do this every weekend over the entire internship. How did I dry my clothes? I untangled the nylon ropes that held my suitcase and balikbayan box.
I secured the ropes across the fixtures in my bathroom, bedroom, and the mini-bar.
My room turned into a cave of dripping office wear, shirts and socks. Joseph visited me in Germany for a weekend. He was taking classes over the summer at Oxford University in England and wanted to travel to Berlin with me. He shook his head when I explained why ropes stretched across my hotel room. Joseph's expression read: Here goes my cheap roommate again! It just made perfect sense!
I thought the shoes looked authentic and I certainly couldn't tell the difference. The idiom "when the rubber hits the road" took on a different meaning when I used these same shoes in Bonn. Each day, I would walk in sidewalks paved with cobblestones from Hotel Kanzlerto the bank, and back. I listened to audiobooks on how to speak Deutsche and awkwardly practiced with my German colleague, Frederik Salzmann.
He, in turn, practiced English with me and regarded me as the expert on the English language and the United States. I don't think I represented the United States well at all. Cobblestones do not agree with shoes made of fake leather and plastic. By the first month, the rubber soles were gone and holes started to appear in my shoes' heels.
Das ist nichtmoeglich! I wasn't going to pay more for repair than the cost of the shoes!
Don't throw good money after bad after bad shoes! That sounds more reasonable. Frederik and I chewed gum each chance we had. I even gave Frederik more gum even if he preferred not to have one.
Bitte, Frederik? Frederik would gesture to me to raise a shoe each time he finished chewing a gum. He and I would plug the gum, and the wrappers, inside the holes of my heels. Gaping holes sealed. One man's garbage is another man's treasure.
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On my way home one day, I found a single black rubber slipper on the side of the road. I asked Frederik to bring nails to the office, which he did without question. I made rubber heels from the slippers and hammered away using empty Hefeweizen beer bottles. The hotel concierge knocked at my door at 11 pm regarding noise complaints from other guests.
I replied, "Can't people fix their shoes in peace anymore?
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The following day, nails that protruded from my shoes clinked against the bank's marble floors. People looked around expecting a frau walking in 3-inch metallic high heels.
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They did not find her. I've painted a pretty accurate picture of what it was like to be a Filipino student with finite resources abroad. I could go on and on about my misadventures, but I'll probably need to share them over drinks! I graduated in May , the worst time you could possibly graduate from an MBA program.
It was the height of the global recession; companies were laying people off and more than they were hiring. I was lucky enough to secure a position at one of the big 4 US consulting firms, and had two offers to choose from. I was driven to succeed because there was a lot at stake but not a lot to fall back on. I learned to trust in God more. Most importantly, this experience has taught me not to take life too seriously!
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