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From Us to You, Global Observations, Travel

Growing up in a big, cosmopolitan city I’ve always thought that public transportation is a civic right. It should be affordable, reliable, safe and accessible to everyone. When in top shape, a public transportation system does wonders for relieving city congestion and reducing the stresses of commuting to work. It is financially beneficial to the community and is so much more gentle on the environment than driving is. With an efficient network in place (and a government which sees the value in it), it can open the doors to more flexible working arrangements and happier people arriving, eventually, at the office.

As I’m travelling, I rely almost exclusively on public transportation. It has a huge impact on how I get a sense of a place. How long is the walk between the subway/tram/bus station and where I want to go? Is there a direct connection between the airport or train station and the city centre? How often are there trains or buses along the route? How easy are the connections? How complicated is the payment system? Will I feel safe? Will it be running late enough in the evening to get a train or bus home and if not, does this city use Uber or how expensive will a cab ride be?

Though there is undeniable freedom with owning or renting a car, often it’s cost-prohibitive, stressful in rush hour, and incredibly harsh on the environment. My recent time in Switzerland reinforced how getting around without cars is a priority there. For a reasonable price, you can simply get where you need to go. There is something impressive about a Swiss friend telling me that she actually works in the next city over, and getting to and from work just isn’t that big a deal for her. It’s a few minutes walk on either end of one train ride. Done.

No system is perfect. Costs may be rising, and commute times may actually be increasing, but according to Presence Switzerland (an organization which is part of the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs), the Swiss still use trains the most compared to other European countries (Eda.admin.ch. (2019). Some companies are willing to count office work being done during the commute as regular work hours. (Swissinfo.ch. (2016, September 30). Working and commuting at the same time. Imagine, a commute pleasant enough to focus on e-mails or research without phone calls or other distractions… I can hardly imagine enough space on a street car during rush hour to open a laptop! This arrangement may only work for certain kinds of employers and employees but I think it’s an innovative way to make use of the inevitable limitations of work, time and place.

(Eda.admin.ch. (2019). Transport – Facts and Figures. Retrieved from https://www.eda.admin.ch/aboutswitzerland/en/home/wirtschaft/verkehr/verkehr—fakten-und-zahlen.html).

(Swissinfo.ch. (2016, September 30). Retrieved from https://www.swissinfo.ch/eng/extra-time_working-and-commuting-at-the-same-time/42282134)

By Megan Katz

On a one-way ticket, Megan is taking time to follow her curiosity literally. Fortunate enough to be on unfamiliar soil, she is keeping her senses clear and her wit sharp. As a maker, dancer and enthusiastic conversationalist, she is seeking meaningful ways to move through new spaces. Endlessly fascinated by human behaviour, local food and cultural norms, stay tuned as Megan shares her thoughts navigating newfound perceptions and impressions

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From Us to You, Global Observations, Growth, Innovation, Leadership, Travel

Fukuoka is a city you’ve likely never heard of. It’s Japan’s fourth largest, a few hours south on the bullet train from Hiroshima. It’s not really on the tourist circuit, and I wouldn’t have found myself there were it not for a friend’s first hand reports (which I took close to heart). Not knowing what the city was known for per say, I was open to browsing the tourist pamphlet at my accommodation. It highlighted the specialties of its regional cuisine, boasted beautiful manicured gardens and beaches (an easy day trip away), and recommended independent shops and cafes dispersed along the downtown canals. And right in the middle leaflet it pitched Fukuoka as a “Startup City”. This made a lot of sense as it felt like a very livable place. Read More…….

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From Us to You, Global Observations, Travel

The Olympics and Paralympics will be held in Tokyo in the summer of 2020 and already, there is a low hum starting to spread in the city – posters, construction, and art being made about it, evidently. After some engaging conversations with people who are from or have been living in Japan for a number of years, I’m starting to see some different facets of the safe, efficient and generally pleasant way of life here….

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From Us to You, Global Observations, Travel

It’s hard to understand why things are the way they are without knowing how they were. This is no small undertaking. Maybe starting with looking at how people lived and worked in Japan one or two generations ago will help to unpack the way gender differences play out in the workplace today. Family structures and the expectations placed on an individual simply because of their gender are affected by the work environment. Or did these expectations from the workplace affect family and gender roles? Chicken or egg?

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From Us to You, Global Observations, Growth, Innovation, Leadership, Travel

I’ve been keeping my eyes open for differences along my way. Those are the details that are easiest to spot when you first visiting a place with a different climate, cuisine, religion, and laws than your own. More often than not though, after some time to adjust to the new surroundings, in big cities and small villages, there are similarities just under the surface.

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From Us to You, Global Observations, Travel

I left on my travels thinking about work. I know, that doesn’t sound like a particularly pleasant topic when heading off on an adventure. But generally speaking, one’s job takes up a huge chunk of your waking life. It makes sense that it’s a source of turmoil for some, pleasure for others, and that it can take up considerable mental space. I wonder if this correlates to one’s sense of self? So far, I’ve experienced drastic differences in the landscape and lifestyle outside of the big cities in Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam.

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From Us to You, Global Observations, Travel

Finding accommodation is my least favorite thing to do while on the road. Balancing cleanliness, cost, location, amenities and atmosphere is challenging and time consuming – and I’ve very rarely hit a high score in all those categories. I have found that the overall experience, or one thing that is particularly interesting about a place can outweigh those cobwebs lingering in the corner of the ceiling. If not for experience, why travel in the first place?

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