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Tomorrow I say goodbye to Belgium. 27 days, many cities, three countries, a few projects, and countless good beers after I arrived, I am getting on a train to the airport and flying home.

I have learned a lot in the last four weeks. AB InBev is the largest company I have ever worked within by far, and to see how materials innovation is handled within a company of its size helped me to understand innovation challenges in a new way. When you are this size, it stops being a resource problem and starts being a risk tolerance problem. I have a world of respect for the people that work there. They are coming up with really interesting solutions to really big problems. Most impressively, they actually deliver. At my startup, we talk a lot about not wanting to start “science projects” where we go off on a flight of non-product-related fancy. At ABI, the innovation team has this drilled in as second nature. A project is not done until it is killed or it is delivered to a customer. I hope to have this focus in the future.

Far more important than my experience with the company, though, is my experience with my team. Somehow, in the last four weeks, I was able to bond with them and become good friends with most of them. Maybe it was sharing laughs about how Manuel left me to my own devices in a train station and I ultimately ended up stranded in La Hulpe — agreed by all to be the middle of nowhere. Maybe it was the weekly happy hour — amazing at a beer company. Maybe it was a shared love of beer or a genuine interest to hear where I was coming from. No matter what it was, they could have let me flounder on my own, and they made me a part of the team in all the ways that matter.

I have had a great time here. I can’t thank my team enough for the opportunity.

With all that said, I am ready to go home. I am ready to visit my family and see my friends in Raleigh and return to CA for my second year. Goodbye Belgium, it’s been real.

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