To the Hjerrilds: An update of the last four years.

To the Hjerrilds,

It’s great to connect with everyone on Facebook. I’m glad all this social media technology actually did some good. It normally wastes my time pointlessly, but I have to say when Ben requested me I realized there was actually some value in all this digital stuff :-).

Where do I start? Currently, I’m a senior at the University of San Francisco. Been living in the city for the last four years where it has become my second home. The weather is just like Washington, except less rain, for which I cannot complain. I’m spoiled now. Whenever I go home I get more and more impatient with the gloomy weather. I’m studying Finance, but see myself working more in technology in startups. The eccentric entrepreneurism of my inventor dad must have rubbed off on me. I don’t think I have enough of a coffee addiction to go into a number crunching finance job for 90 hours a week. I like wearing a lot of hats and being in a creative, innovative environment.

Last fall, I studied abroad in Sydney, Australia (I heard from Ben you guys were in Australia too, I’ll have to catch up on some Hjerrild Herald reading). I worked on a reef tour boat in the Great Barrier Reef for a few days, made some East Coast friends through my host program Boston University, and enjoyed how much Eastern influence there was in Sydney and Melbourne (though I wish there was more racial equality and awareness).

Since my winter break was an eternity, I decided to backpack New Zealand for a month. I used a site called helpx.net (work 4 hours a day at places in exchange for food and board) and found a luxury lakehouse in Wanaka to stay and work at (If any of the Hjerrilds are in NZ you’ll have to helpx at this beautiful place). I did online marketing work for the Lodge and got them digitalized with the the latest SEO and social media tools. During my stay at the lodge I got to know two Dutch and a Canadien couple (from Kelowna, BC) really well. I did some hitch hiking (most of my friends think I’m crazy for doing this, but you guys as worldly travelers would approve), exploring of Milford Sound, Franz Josef Glacier, and camping with some friends in the back of an auto shop’s junkyard in Queenstown for New Year’s (a whole other story in itself).

I guess I’m doing this in reverse chronological order, so I’ll keep rolling backwards. My next experience is relevant to Ben’s CS degree hehe.

During the summer of 2010 and most of my junior year in college, a friend of mine and I decided to found our own web startup. A lot of my posts in this blog are related to it, but in a nutshell, we went from developing an idea because we were too lazy to text friends to building a social networking site that instantly answers which of your friends want to hang out. We spent almost all our free time during school on it and lived out of Berkeley last summer to work nonstop. I had a cozy sleeping bag of a bed for the duration of our time there. We finished our web platform, marketed it to users, and pitched it to venture capitalists and angel investors. Since it’s not the next Facebook, we’ve moved on from the experience, but it is from this experience that I want to work in startups.

I think you’ll like this job I had during the Summer of 2009. I worked as a food director for a travelling Jewish teen tour throughout the East Coast and Canada. It was awesome since I got to see Boston, Maine, Montreal, Toronto, Niagara Falls, D.C., and Virginia on a bus and hang out with 40 teenagers and a crazy staff. It was tough and stressful buying groceries for 50 people and organizing the preparation and cleanup when we were camping at different locations. This was one of, if not the most difficult job I’ve ever done, which I’m grateful for since it taught me how to be efficient and time manage to a tee.

During summer 08 and half of 07, I worked at a place that has become very near and dear me, and it is thanks to you guys for inviting me to go with Ben when I was a kid. I spent this time working as a camp counselor for YMCA Camp Orkila. My time working in the San Juans has definitely helped shape who I am, so I must thank you for introducing me to this beautiful place. I got to experience the most beautiful sunsets in the world, throw dodgeballs as hard as I could at annoying campers, and live in a really magical world away from reality during my time at Orkila.

And to cap things off, it is ironic how I began my life as a legal adult. After graduating high school, three friends of mine and I decided to treat ourselves to a one month graduation trip. We started our backpacking escapades in where I was first inspired by the world, Paris, France. From there we eurailed to Amsterdam, stayed with my friend’s family friends in Munich, visited my friend’s Aunt in Lucerne, Switzerland, and made short stops in Venice, Cinque Terre, and Rome. From there we flew to Greece and spent a week in Ios and Santorini. It was a journey I’ll never forget, and thanks to my travel experience with your family, I was able to make it out alive with the knowledge I learned from you guys.

I still clearly remember getting into Paris when Ben and I were 13 (I think…). After arriving the airport and getting on the shuttle bus to the city, I thought, “what’s the big deal with this place? This is going to be borrring”. Once we got off the subway at Montmarte though, I remember stepping up each stair and under the tainted green metal awning into that busy neighborhood street. It was instant awe. My mind was rocked by this new world of Parisan people, architecture, cafes, and life. The walk to the apartment was one of the most amazing and intense moments of my life. This is probably why Paris is still my favorite city I’ve visited in Europe.

I’m bummed how Ben and I have lost touch the last few years, but now with all this technology we can keep in contact by writing on walls, skyping, and sharing stupid comedic youtube videos. I still remember Sunday afternoons shooting aliens on your Mac and playing legos at my house. I remember the first time I had an Italian sausage for dinner at your house. It was pure tastebud bliss, and it’s a meat that has become a staple in my college diet.

If any of the Hjerrilds want to travel to San Francisco, know that all of your family or friends are welcome to stay at my place. As of now, it isn’t huge, but I know how adaptive the Hjerrilds are when exploring the world so we can make something work. It’s expensive here, so a free place to stay is always good. Katherine and Steve, I’d love to catch up on your travels and you two are welcome anytime. Natasha, if you or any friends want to travel the Bay Area, just shoot me a message and I’ll make sure you guys have a place to crash. Ben, we should definitely figure out some sort of get together within the spring or summer. You should try applying to some startups in the Bay Area if you’re looking to use your CS degree. If I run into any opportunities for you, I’ll let you know. On the other hand, maybe I shouldn’t because exploring SE Asia sounds way better!

I’ve been lucky to do a lot so far as a 22 year old, but I’ve realized most of these jobs and experiences wouldn’t have happened if it wasn’t for the trip to Paris and all through England your family invited me on. It is probably the most generous thing anyone has done for me, and I cannot thank each Hjerrild enough. I’m not going to lie, I am getting a little mushy as I write this because of how lucky I am to know your family.

I cannot imagine what my life would be life without traveling. Maybe I’d be one of those crazy workaholic Asian students who sees little in life besides A’s and a lofty salary. Maybe I’d be that ignorant person who doesn’t know Indonesia has the world’s largest Muslim population. All I’m sure of is that I’m lucky to have grown up with such a generous friend and family.

Thank you Ben and the Hjerrilds. We will definitely be in touch now!

All the best,

Andrew

An update on the Sings:

Everything with the Sings is going well. My dad is still inventing crazy products (he is spreading the word on his new composite material), my Mom is still holding down the fort in the family as the rock, and my sister is in her last year of high school.

Annie is looking to go to UW or Whitman for college. She’s been playing club volleyball competitively, and will play on the team at Whitman if she decides to go there. She’s developed into an outgoing, energetic girl who I think takes after my dad a bit with her fun and crazy personality.

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