Last night in Belgium

Finally, it is our last day at Volcano, our last night in Belgium.  It is time to show case what we have been working so hard during the last 10 weeks for.

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Team gathering before the presentation

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With our client


Big man nervous before the presentation.

We presented to our client in the afternoon.  It was longer than we expected, taking us more than 2 hours to finish the presentation, including time to answer our client numerous questions.

However, this is not the end yet, since many of the key persons from our client including the CEO, the Operation Chief, the Marketing Manager are at a conference in Paris, they couldn’t join us at this time.  Volcano would like us to present for them one more time through video conference at a later date.

Nevertheless, we have finished our research, produced a good work, it is time for celebration!

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Tomorrow, we will depart in 4 directions: Columbus, London, Milan, and Paris.  Belgium has been a mixed experience, an up and down one, it’s time to say good bye.  Thank you GAP program, and thank you Volcano for all the support!


Crunching the project

Since Monday, our team has been working tirelessly trying to finish the research for the project.  We have had our idea down and know what we would like to show to our client by the end of this week.  The next step is to finalize the structure of the presentation.

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Bonus picture of last weekend trip: Taruna and I went to Paris and met with the UK Gap team, Anurag and Deepak there.

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Lessons at the grocery store

We learned some interesting things at the local Carrefour supermarket this week.


First, according to the USA section, our cuisine consists of 50% beef jerky, accompanied by Betty Crocker Mixes, Pop Tarts, BBQ Sauce and Maple Syrup…  Fairly accurate and representative of the American Diet.  Second, the Mexican section is made up entirely of Old El Paso products which, after extensive research. it was determined that no one in Mexico has ever eaten… ever!


You can then  imagine our surprise when, in a country that prides itself on using  mayonnaise as its condiment of choice for dipping “freedom fries.” we found Tomato Ketchup flavored potato chips in the standard aisle.

In the end, we just played it safe and purchased an obscene amount of chocolate.  Unfortunately, all photographic evidence has been destroyed as certain individuals are not ready to expose their chocoholism to the public.

This message is brought to you by…. a French Keyboard. 

Finally have our limb back again in Belgium

Recap of what happen since our Belgium team last post: we went out for dinner, come back to the apartment, no more laptops and valuable stuffs.  Luckily our passports were still there.  To be safe, we moved out of the apartment, unfortunately, it was the festival week in Brussels so most hotels were booked up, we had to check in 3 different hotels in the past 5 days.

Our project didn’t progressed as planned since we had no laptop and most of our data haven’t been uploaded to our dropbox yet.  What is it like to work without a laptop? I could have thought of many quirky examples but one of my team member stressed it so much that I couldn’t think of anything else but “limb”, without a laptop is like “without a limb in MY body”.  I must have heard this word no less that 50 times in the past week.

Our client, Volcano, has been a great help throughout the process, they provided us with 2 laptops to use temporarily and helped with the hotel booking through their corporate connection.  Fisher has also worked hard trying to get us back on track with our project by sending us three loaner laptop from the IT department.  Finally today is the first day that we all get our “limb” back together.

Our pictures are in limbo state now, we try to get it back from all sources of online locations.  I have some on my phone but they are too big for the limit of our blog and I don’t have my usual tool in my borrowed laptop to resize, so just enjoy the text for now 😛

Leuven the Beercapital

capital bier

Yesterday a Belgian friend took us to a small and charming city full of history, narrow streets and students on a bikes. We soon understood why biking and walking was more popular than driving: Leuven is known as the Beercapital.

Sober activities in Leuven, the Beercapital.
Sober activities in Leuven, the Beercapital.


We had an amazing dinner at a chic restaurant in the main square.

Waiting for the food. Europe is still in the midst of a Fries war/dispute: both Belgium and France claim the invention of the (French) Fries, also known as Pommes Frites.
Waiting for the food. Europe is still in the midst of a Fries war: both Belgium and France claim the invention of the (French) Fries, also known as Pommes Frites.


The main square.
The main square.

GAP experience: “Working hard, play hard”

Brussels global experience can be summarized in four simple words: “Work hard, play hard”. During the day we are immersed in interviews in the evenings we go out and check the amazing places Belgium capital has to offer; we walk the narrow and lively streets, check famous tourist spots and enjoy dinner in charming restaurants tasting the local cuisine.

Grand Place is the most important tourist destination in Brussels according  to the holders of all human knowledge (McKinsey and Wikipedia).
Grand Place is the most important tourist destination in Brussels according to the holders of all human knowledge (McKinsey and Wikipedia).

As soon as we saw the first glimpse of this place, we were mesmerized with the grandness of this place, truly grand in real sense. The picture cannot really depict the actual beauty and feeling of the place. The area about 400-500ft radius was surrounded all across by the grand architecture which was nothing but perfect. The top layers were plated with gold and on one of the buildings there was a statue a golden horse. The vast architecture was built with so much dedication and perfection which could be felt even today. Just looking at the sight was humbling, I wonder how satisfying this would have been for the person who built it.

THE Grand Place.
THE Grand Place.


The spirit of the place was not only in the architecture but also in the lovely ambiance. In midst of the grand views there were delicious foods from different countries and lovely people who were enjoying the great sights, food and wine with their loved ones. People looked so happy and relaxed and were really enjoying the overall experience. One thing we’ve been observing about the people here, no one seems to be in hurry, no one wants quick service, people really cherish the food, the surroundings and the moments, and dinner is never an hour, its three hours 🙂 .


Overall, the evening at the Grand Place was a treat after a long day at work, and a definitely must see place while in Brussels.


Our second day in Belgium was once again quite productive in and out of the office.  Our team continues to be impressed with how welcoming and accommodating everyone at Volcano has been to us.  We (especially Cal) are building some great relationships with the team at Volcano!  Additionally, we were pleasantly surprised to have an unexpected member present in our afternoon discussion today.

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As Olamide works through his Visa issues he remains a diligent and productive member of our team.

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Despite working remotely, for the time being, he adds great insight to our discussions.

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We all are optimistic that Olamide will join us in person soon, but Khoa has been taking it especially hard.

All levity aside, Olamide remains a valuable member of our team after 7 plus weeks of hard work.  We are all grateful for his diligence, continued contribution and commitment despite his current geographic setback.

Hitting the Ground Running

Today was our first official day at the Volcano HQ site in Brussels. We were ready to get to work!

Entering Volcano HQ
Entering Volcano HQ

They had a special welcome for us inside.

OSU Welcome!


I was happy to be the official photographer, but the team insisted I be in at least one picture:


Everyone at Volcano was fantastic; they set us up with everything we needed, including a HUGE conference room for us to work in.

team room

We were very excited to get to work, and were warmly welcomed by all. Our client gave us an overview of the company as well as a tour, so we got to meet the very internationally-diverse (and super friendly!) Volcano Europe team – in addition to Brussels, we met people from Netherlands, France, Indonesia, Venezuela, Germany, Lebanon, Jordan and others!

After a hard day at work, we headed back to the apartment, only to face the Brussels afternoon traffic. Can you spot how many red lights are in the picture? Yes, they were as endless as they looked!


After parking the car and changing into more comfortable attire, we headed out for a walk to find someplace to eat and found this!



In case you missed the sign, here’s a close up:


There was no one there for us to try to see if Professor Dial’s divulgence of the MBA handshake of Crown, Cork and Seal would gain us entry into the club.

It was a great first day at Volcano and we had fun exploring in Brussels afterward. Now if only we could get over this jet lag…



First day in Brussels

Our first day in Brussels went with a lot of surprises, annoying, and fun.  Taruna and I was the first to arrive at Brussels at 7am, then Cal and Aaron arrived 2 hours later.  Burouj will come on Saturday morning, and hopefully Olamide can resolve the issue with the Visa fast, god know we need our master chef here.

All 4 of our team today could hardly sleep during our flight from USA to Belgium, we were technically zombie walking around, and just want to go home to take a nap right away.  Just when you think everything was ready, let just take our rented car at the airport and go home, the “let just” part didn’t happen.  You would think the queue of 4 people to take the rented car is nothing, it shouldn’t even compare to our line of 50 persons at the custom checking.  But nope, I don’t know what kind of salary they paid these people, but they took forever to even move 1 person.  It took 40 minutes before it was our turn, and it took another 40 minutes for Cal and Aaron to “chat” with this 20+ years old agent girl before we could finally get out.  The company next to us is none better, I felt bad for the 3 ladies standing on that booth as well.  The agency guy on that company didn’t even look up to talk to the ladies, he just “concentrate” intently on the computer screen for… may be an hour.  At least our girl talk to Cal, if Cal didn’t desperately try to get her phone number or give her his namecard, maybe we could have got it sooner.  At one point, Taruna and I even made a bet to see between our girl and the agency guy, who will finish renting out the car first.


The other company

Our line

Our line

So expensive

Everything is so expensive here in Bruseels, oh, and no fountain water!  Viva America!


Our sweet ride

The city of Brussels is quite nice, beautiful green trees along the high way, the road is much better than America.  Downtown Brussels are much more crowded and the road is narrower, it makes sense why most of the car here is small.

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When we got to our building, it stroked us with a hilarious surprise. The elevator is so small and literally made to hold 3 people maximum.  When Aaron, Cal, and I tried to get into it together, Aaron’s butt pressed on all the buttons.




The apartment is a totally different experience, it’s spacious!  The living room is really nice, we could definitely throw a party with 20 people here.  The ladies get the master bedroom.  Cal and I share one, and for now Aaron is the lucky dude with the single room for himself, until Olamide comes!

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The bathroom, however, threw us another curve ball just like the elevator.  In our bedroom, we have the window with the shade on, but not in our bathroom, and the window in our bathroom is not high either, it is at the upper half body level, so outsiders could totally see us take the shower!  And outside our bathroom’s window is millions of other window opposite the street.   Our bathroom has the both the bathtub and the standing shower separately.  The standing shower is hidden behind the wall of the bathtub so since I refused to be videotaped taking shower and put on youtube, my only choice is the standing shower.  But the standing shower has no glass door!  So anyone taking the shower in there would spray up the entire bathroom floor, a fact that I learned too late.  Even the bathtub only has half of the glass covered!  What is wrong with this bathroom!  Nevertheless, after the mess that I made in the bathroom, Cal and Aaron decided to be brave and take a shower in the bathtub to show off their meat to all the ladies in Brussels.

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Lunch in the street.

To end our night, we had a dinner at a cozy place with each a Chimay bottle.

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