Saturday, July 12, 2014

The Jet Lag is Over

Here is a link to my Trip's Best Photos:

Next Stop: India (Feb. 2015)

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

"Life is what happens when you're trying to make other plans."

Time of typing: 20140624 at 11:33 PM EST
Location of Typing: Iceland Air: Best Western Strasbourg
The old song says “Don’t it always seem to go that you don’t know what you got ‘til it’s gone.” Well, that’s how I’m feeling about wash cloths right now. For some reason the hotel we’re staying in doesn’t have wash cloths. As a matter of fact, our friends that we stayed with over the weekend didn’t have wash cloths either. In both cases, there were just large towels. I guess the European thing is just to lather up with your hands and a bar of soap. I’ll be hones; the first thought that came to my mind was I could make a killing introducing the European world to wash cloths, but then, I thought I’m sure somebody has tried that before. Since I’ve been here, my shower time has been extended at least 10 minutes. I’m just not accustomed to the self-lathering system. So, I just bring the huge bath towel in the shower with me and let housekeeping deal with the mess later.
Anyway, today was day 2 at the world health organization, and while it wasn’t as exciting as yesterday (i.e. seeing the SHOC room), we still met some really intriguing people. There was a tobacco cessation seminar, and from that, there was one fact that really stuck out. Did you know 6 million people die annually from tobacco, but only 300,000 die from annually from illegal drug use? Also, smoking a hookah is like smoking 100 cigarettes. Lastly, there are over 2,000 toxins in a single cigarette. The tobacco statistics are literally staggering. I can’t imagine why anybody in their right mind would choose to…????
The day ended with an unbelievable discussion on the river between myself, my wife, a few classmates, and our instructor. We the weather was right, the food was great, and the view of The Jet d'Eau: was phenomenal. We were discussing politics, our favorite books, and etc. My favorite book is “Of Mice and Men.” This lead to a discussion of everyone answering the question of “If they were in George’s shoes, would they have followed through with killing Lenny?” If you’ve read the book, this is a thought you can ponder or takeaway from this blog. My answer is a definite “yes.” The reason being George protected Lenny a large portion of life. Lenny was going to die anyway. George should at least be able town the task of killing Lenny. Maybe it sounds harsh, but that’s how I feel about it.
OK, I don’t know how I got out there but that’s all I have for today…..WAIT! How could I forget to mention I saw a very memorable piece of art at the World Health Organization? Essentially, there was a hallway of photos, but the photos were made from the blood of those that had dad from aids. The idea for someone to do that was just astonishing. Even if you’re not a fan of art, this is something I encourage all to view (If they’re ever in Geneva).
Enjoy the pictures and until tomorrow, take care!

Random visual description: I’m wearing my crocs with the lime green bottom

Monday, June 23, 2014

Just, get on the bus!

I can't remember if I mentioned this in an earlier post, but in Switzerland, bus city drivers don' check passenger riding tickets. You can just literally get on the bus. It's the straight up "honors system" over here; they assume if you have hopped in the back of the bus, you have purchased the proper ticket to ride. The transportation department believes this helps traffic flow better (instead of bus drivers stopping to check tickets/taking payments), and I agree.
Unfortunately, I do not believe this same concept would work in the United States because...heck, I'll admit it; I wouldn't even buy a bus ticket. Before you start packing your bags to move to Switzerland for free bus fair, I think it is important to mention police officers do random checks. If passengers are caught without the proper riding tickets, they have to pay a +100 dollar fine on spot or they get put in jail. However, I’ve ridden the bus about 5 times already, I’ve never been checked (jinx!).

OK, that’s all I have to say today.


Yesterday, we finally arrived in Geneva, and it is pricey here. I’m burning through Swiss Francs left and right. We’re staying at the Best Western –Strasbourg. I figured I would put that out there in case of an emergency, and I need somebody to come pick me up.

Upon arrival, all the students participating in HSC 516 had a dinner orientation. Outside of the free meal (Who doesn’t like free food?), the best part was we found out we can return to the World Health Organization anytime, after this trip, to do additional research or intern. As a health administration doctoral student, the World Health Organization is the Mecca! So, this is a big deal. We have a good group; so, it should be a fun week.

Today, was our actual first day visiting the World Health Organization, and can you say “System Overload?” There were so many dynamic speakers, and all of them focused on global health. I was in 110% nerd mode. I could write 20 more blogs about all the stuff I learned and my impressions. The global aspect is so big to me. Like, it’s great to focus on helping those in America but that’s not the whole world. OK, maybe I have too much “Michael Jackson (heal the world)” in me. I’m off my soap box. The main takeaway is I did some serious elbow rubbing to hopefully get a new job. We even were able to go within the Strategic Health Operations Center (SHOC):

Only officially 1 day in, the experience has by far exceeded my expectations. I can’t stop thanking the man above for showing me so much favor; I don’t take anything for granite.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Uber is really fast

Time of typing: 20140621 at 8:42 PM EST
Location of Typing: Lausanne, Switzerland (a friend’s apartment)

So, I left one of my USA to Europe adapters in Paris; I blame Uber. Our car showed up in less than 90 seconds after I put in the request, and I needed a star (Mario Bros. reference) to get all the luggage down in time before the car left.
Another thing that confused me about today was the European Train system. You just get on. No security check, no ticket check or etc. Just, find your seat, and once your own, it’s completely bananas in there; people walking back from car to car like it’s a social affair. If I would’ve know this, I could’ve saved the couple hundred bucks on my actually purchasing tickets. About an hour into the trip, some guy did come by with an iphone scanning tickets, but I was already a quarter of the way to my destination by then. What was he going to do….kick me off (LOL)?
ANYWAY! Yesterday, we visited the Versailles Palace and Gardens which is an absolute “must see” if you are ever in the Paris area. Actually, I would recommend it over the Eiffel Tower. Essentially, Versailles is where Louis XIII, XIV, and XV lived. Each individual king has an incredible story. I really don’t have time to talk about each in this blog, but make sure you google them when you’re board. My favorite is Louis the XV because he was known as the “party king,” and I’m always down for a good party. Versailles is not in Paris; it’s out in the burbs. Again, trust me when I say it’s worth the trip (30 minute train ride).
Today, we walked around Lausanne, and it was their “music day” which was pretty awesome. There were free concerts all around the city. All types of music were honored, and they associated hip-hop music with techno music (not sure why). However, being the hip-hop enthusiast I am I stopped by just the techno area just to see what was going on #nothingtowritehomeabout.
In closing, I would just like to say I had the best hot chocolate of all time today. Words can’t justify the seriousness of how great this hot chocolate was so I’ve attached a picture of the bar that serves it (in Lausanne).
Ok, that’s all I have for now. Tomorrow, CMU’s HSC 516 course officially kickoffs in Geneva. I can’t wait to catch up with some of my classmates. FIRE UP CHIPS!!! Until next time, see ya!

Remember Your past was never a mistake if you learned from it.

Random visual description: The “it’s ok, but it’s not really ok” look on my face because our friends in Lausanne own a cat.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Even in Paris, Obama is “the man!”

Time of typing: 20140619 at 6:55 PM EST
Location of Typing: Iceland Air: Paris France ( apartment)

“Celebrate good times…C’mon!” It’s been a fun pass….I've seriously lost track of time since Paris is 6 hours ahead; don’t judge me. Last night, we went to see the sunset at the Eiffel Tower, and in the words of Barney Stinson (How I Met Your Mother), it was “Legen……wait for it….dary!!!” If you can afford it, make sure you take the elevator to the top of the tower. Rain, snow, or shine the view is “all that and a bag of chips!” However, just having a picnic in the park is kool too. Fun Fact: the Eiffel Tower has over 100 entrances, and there is some kind of movement to paint in pink soon –not really sure what that’s all about but you can google anything nowadays.  
I think it is funny to mention we almost didn't feel up to going to the Eiffel tower after the trek we persevered to make it to our apartment. I think we should’ve just called a cab instead lugging around 5 suitcases from crowded subway to crowded subway (remind me not to bring so many shoes next time), but hey, I didn't want to just blow unnecessary cash. We’re staying in a gorgeous penthouse apartment, but don’t get hung up on the word penthouse. The key adjective is historical because the building does not have an elevator. The cherry on the Sunday was carrying our luggage up all those steps. Oh well….we will laugh about it ten years from now. I knew we were in for some trouble when the guy with the key to our apartment, who couldn't speak English, made a climbing gesture and then raised up 5 fingers.
Today, we say visited the Louvre. I was able to view the Mona Lisa with my own two eyes. It’s almost like she’s alive in there looking right back at you. Did you know Leonardo Da Vinci only did 15 paintings his entire life? He was really an engineer passionate about designing new evolving technologies. Also, most of the Greek art in the Louvre Is replicated. The originals are made of bronze and stayed with…..the actual Greeks!
OK, that’s all I have for today. Oh wait! I forgot to mention the Obama story. So, we went in a random bar to watch the World Cup, and it was packed because this was a sports bar with 8 TV’s (right, Buffalo Wild Wings would make a killing over here). Anyway, a guy asks us if were from America, and of course, we reply yes. Then, he replies “We really like Obama, but not guy the guy before him.”
Ok, I’m really done now. Remember “You never really know yourself until you see yourself under pressure.

Random visual description: Eating a Nature’s Valley (Oats ‘n Honey Flavor)

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

FedEx is on the “naughty list” but the good news is Canada has “Leafs TV”


Time of typing: 20140618 at 2:07 AM EST

Location of Typing: Iceland Air: Economy Class

Title: FedEx is on the “naughty list” but the good news is Canada has “Leafs TV”

In an effort to save cash, we flew out of Toronto, and it did help big time financially. That’s my only free travel tip; the next one will cost you -LOL. The ride from Detroit to Toronto was exactly 3.5 hours. We only stopped once (potty).
Prior to leaving, I tried to stick around as long as possible waiting on FedEx to deliver my fresh batch of Express Clothes (my favorite store) that I ordered last week, but they never came. As I pulled in to my friend’s driveway to park my car in Toronto, FedEx conveniently called my cell phone to let me know they had dropped off my package.
·         Sidebar challenge: Currently, I’m trying to work on getting that package rerouted to my hotel in Geneva, but I know I should probably just accept defeat and move forward.
We arrived in Toronto at about 5:00 PM EST, and our flight did not leave until 9:00 PM EST. So, we had to freshen up at our friend’s home, and of course, we were offered the opportunity to watch “Leafs TV.” If you don’t know what this is, it’s very similar to the “Yes Network” in New York: all Yankees baseball, all the time. Instead “Leafs TV” is all Toronto Maple Leafs hockey, all the time. I hope you can feel my sarcastic humorous tone about “Leaf’s TV.” Needless to say, we took advantage of the staying ahead of schedule by 2 hours instead of hanging around to check out the latest on the Maple Leaf’s.
We made the right decision because I have become an instant “fan boy” for the Toronto airport (picture attached): iPads for all, electronic charging stations falling from the sky, Wi-Fi is fast and “free.99!”, and….and …..and…… and… yeah, Way to go Canada on that one!
We should be arriving to Iceland in less than an hour for a short layover. I wish we could hang out in Iceland for a day or longer. It’s known for having natural hot springs, and during the summer months, the sun never goes down all the way. Also, I hear the whale watching is amazing! (Call me a dork; I've been called worst -LOL).
Outside of the cultural learning experience (thanks CMU), the most enjoyable portion of this trip is being able to spend time with my wife. Back home, we’re both so busy we rarely get to see each other. Either I’m sleep by the time she gets done working or vice versa, and some days our only communication is via Gmail.  
For now, that’s all I have. Remember “Don’t look back; you’re not going that way!”


Random visual description: I got the window seat.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

A Detroiter headed to Europe (Scotty Doesn't Know!)


Name: Joe Brown
Travel Companion and Relationship: Chelsea Brown (wife)
Reason: Central Michigan University (Fire Up Chips!!!) HSC 516 Course

Trip Details

Tuesday, June 17:
Detroit to Toronto via car
Toronto to Iceland via airplane

Wednesday, June 18:
Iceland (just a layover) to Paris via airplane

Saturday, June 21: 
Paris to Lausanne via train

Sunday, June 22 
Lausanne to Geneva via train

Friday, June 27
Day trip to Milan via train 

Saturday, June 28
Geneva to Ireland (just a layover) via airplane
Ireland to Toronto via airplane
Toronto to Detroit via car

Confirmed Attractions:

Versailles Chateau & Gardens
Eiffel Tower
World Health Organization
International Commission of the Red Cross
United Nations
Aigle Castle

and ....

Yay! we bought a new point and shoot:

Next blog post will be Monday night -June 16, and I'll be able to detail some stuff we packed. Stay tuned; "the revolution will not be televised".....just blogged (LOL). Enjoy!