Thursday, September 12, 2013
It’s been an amazing, overwhelming 24 hours on many news and activity fronts and likely the last entry I will write from the United States. I fly to Essen Germany this Saturday and begin working as an Erzieherin this upcoming Monday!
Yesterday was my last day at my corporate office job. While inevitably there were some ‘haters’ and gossip (that’s the nature of offices) a vast majority of my co-workers were wonderful and I already miss them.
I brought in this cake:
And wore this Dirndl shirt, perfect time of year since its Oktoberfest season (there will be actual Oktoberfest parties in many parts of Wisconsin next week.)
I thought that would be the extent of our celebrations, but no, my lovely colleagues kept asking me ‘Sam when are you going to break?’ They waited for me to go downstairs and get water as I often do….and in a mad rush did this to my work cube! :
I love the wonderful messages left in this card:
I have been working straight since last Tuesday, Monday having been a holiday, straight 12 hour shifts. I love to be at work so this is not an issue and I think will serve me well in Germany but it was so hard to clear my desk and go!
I commute home from work via bus every day and over the last couple of months there’s been a very nice driver that I often speak with. She’s very kind but surprised even me when she came up to me as I waited for my connection last night and said: “Would it be ok if I prayed for you?’ I thought that was fantastic, I said yes but also asked her to pray for the children and adults I’ll be working with
…and then comes what I found out via email. You may remember my soon to be colleague ‘A’ who was denied her German visa not once but twice. Well it doesn’t matter now---appeals canceled---because she has been awarded a fantastic contract in Denmark! With a generalized interest in working in Northern Europe this is a great opportunity for her and we couldn’t be happier!
…the second email. My cousin on the Reuter side just graduated with his degree in secondary education specializing in English. It’s very hard for any teacher to get their first contract, especially in an area with some overfill like high school English in a state that has gone massive education squeezes like Wisconsin. He’s done it and will be starting in his classroom Monday just like I will.
This song ‘Der Letzte Tag’ is stuck in my head...yeah I am a Tokio Hotel fan ha!
I want to thank you again for your love and support I know a lot of what I write is not easy to read at times. It is my pleasure, it seems to finally, be able to write a blog entry that is 100% positive here.
Today I’ll be packing and Beagle hugging, and on Saturday visiting my Brother and Nieces before flying to Zurich and onto Dusseldorf!
I’m (almost!) ready,
Sunday, August 11, 2013
A small update. I thought this Thursday I might actually lose it---it’s the first time in a long time I have felt so exhausted and frustrated in every way and about everything I could think of. I had been going on my 6th week of waiting for my passport to return. Knowing full well that most of the time the passport comes back on the 8th week. Well I heard nothing so I emailed my liaisons of my employer and asked them to contact the consulate. They said, given the time zone difference and totally impossibility of getting someone on the phone (seems like every embassy is the same) I should do it. Thing #1 to be pissed off about, at this point I think employer advocacy is required.
I emailed the embassy with my special number thinking I emailed the agent I met in person, or ‘the nice one.’ At least she responded but I did not hear from the nice one. In short the words “I already told it you it might take twelve weeks” and the suggestion I contact my employer who contact internal work authorities was made---because over six weeks the consulate *heard nothing.* Now let me tell you one of my pet peeves is when people say: “I already told you” I despise it because obviously if I ask about something I clearly don’t remember you telling me anything; also it sounds plain rude doesn’t it? Thing#2 to be pissed off about.
In a fury, I wrote a very polite but stern email to my colleagues in country, forwarding the email from the embassy. You would think that the denial of A’s visa would have everyone double checking the process of everybody else working overtime to assure the misery of denial didn’t occur again. I guess not.
In my email I made it clear that I expected advocacy and answers. The next day I had emails from every colleague. They are in contact with the proper authorities and we hope to have an answer soon. Can you imagine needing to push like this for advocacy? Waiting each day thinking today you might finally get your passport back but in reality it’s just sitting in a vault somewhere? Thing#3.
As my future employment is stressing me out, so is my current. I am working as a bilingual CSR for a major pharmaceutical/products company. I am sure you have at least one of their products. It became clear to me in training that some of the older, female team leads were not going to take to me kindly. One actually pushed me out of the way during a presentation and sent threatening emails when I came back a minute late from one break. At the time I let it pass. However, now I can sense that I am being targeted in that subversive way that anyone who has worked in a call centre knows about. I have been pulled into backrooms and told I am bringing down team morale (I told a friend that I didn’t feel challenged enough in a certain call queue…) In call monitoring I told my team lead that I needed some positive feedback whereas other team leads have been very encouraging to me—she has not been forthcoming. As of last week I was moved to a call queue that is so slow and requires very little knowledge. My team lead has accused me of not being able to research products. Clearly a fallacy given my level of education. She thinks she is being intimidating, but I am not concerned. I think I am a really nice person, I make friends easily but I am also fairly confident and articulate, dress well (I think a lot of people in office’s are too casual) I am also one of few Native American people one will ever met like this.
I am dreaming of the day when I finally get word on my passport and can hand in my resignation. I am losing sleep, stuck in a plateau and overall very stressed and upset. I am trying to stay positive: as part of a health initiative at work I have allowed my team members to borrow workout DVDs (and this has not been noticed by team lead) and be sure to be close to them. But…. I keep praying for a positive resolution very soon for myself, M and A so I can finally get back into my career, my vocation.
Sunday, July 28, 2013
I didn’t think I would be blogging so quickly after last week’s entry. My passport has not returned yet and that is ok, if not somewhat expected---what isn’t expected is now I fear its return.
My future colleague, who is working at a different location than I got a horrible shock late last week: her visa has been denied. Stated reason: she’s ‘overqualified’ according to new *state* government mandates.
A is in shock and scared, with less than a month left on her apartment lease, her current employment resigned from. Our employer is now scrambling to provide proof and appeal their decision.
Another colleague, M, already working for six months is suddenly being told her qualifications aren’t good enough by the authorities and will be forced to defend her education, her pedagogy, her right to work in Germany in front of a panel.
Please pray for both of them. We are all clearly qualified and passionate about what we do but the disgusting head of nationalist politics (if we were EU this discussion would not be occurring) is rearing its ugly head in the form of new, surprising state irrational demands (because children deserve underqualified teachers right?)
Will I be denied too? I feel everyday now like vomiting in anticipation. I feel like crying all the time.
The morning I opened my email hear of A’s news I awoke with a horrible sinus-congestion headache and from a nightmare where I was at the consulate waiting in a big, uncrowned line full of panicked people.
Since I have heard the news I have been under so much stress, in a semi-permanent headache and my anxiety is at a peak. The worst part is knowing that if my passport return timeline follow’s A and M’s I won’t know for another two weeks.
I don’t know how we can get through this cruel time.
ps. I still weigh 163, the never ending plateau weight.
Sunday, July 21, 2013
Allow me to define ‘full plate’ for you :P
It’s been over a month since my last entry and almost a month since my Visa Interview and Application appointment at the German Consulate in Chicago. How are things? They are chugging along almost to a routine pace which is scary; not because I dislike routine (being OCD I thrive) but because I know once my passport returns from German captivity with that sticker it’s all going to change almost overnight. Overnight as in overnight flight Cologne or Dusseldorf.
As mentioned in previous blog preparing for my new job: curriculum planning, material gathering, countless emails/early morning meetings to colleagues, apartment hunting and trying to get my reading-writing German up to speed. It’s no use to harass the consulate about when my visa will finally come back: I was told they would try to have it fully processed between the 15-25th of this month but it took my colleague in Germany a full 8 weeks. I doubt I’ll make that August 1st start date but it could happen if the visa comes back this week! Though I want to give my current job notice and bring in a big awesome ‘Auf Wiedersehen/Danke’ cake for all my wonderful co-workers.
It has become clear to me that starting up at my centre in Germany is going to be a lot like start up in Russia. I’ll be the first English speaking Erzieherin they have had and thus will be one hundred percent responsible for that sector and all ages it encompasses. Unlike Russia however, I have the advantage of a.) Language b.) non-corrupt/ non Billionaire parents and c.) staff! Out of nowhere last month I was also told I would be going to a different location than originally planned. Hey that’s in my contact and I told them that I would go where I was needed. Sure, I’d rather go to Hamburg or Munich but I am needed in Essen.
I am most troubled at the moment that an apartment still has not been secured. My centre wants me to stay with a host family for the first couple of weeks but I am really scared of that idea because I really want to get my monthly budget under control as well as not annoy/cramp anyone’s space.
All this is tempered by the fact I work full time right now! ..so two weeks ago I had to make a difficult choice. I cut down my work schedule from a full 40 hours to 36 hours a week distributed 12 hour shifts on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Which if you ask me is still pretty hardcore: I bring lunch and dinner to work! I actually like my job and the people I am with. I’ve always been a workhorse but now at least on Tuesday, Thursday + Weekends study German and prepare for my upcoming job. These days I feel so very crunched for time. If I am not doing one of the things listed above then I am probably doing arbitrary but necessary stuff associated like commuting, organizing work clothing, packing dinners and lunches and then there’s SLEEP.
Keeping healthy and balanced these days has become difficult. There’s often a critical choice to be made between working out (now only done M, W, F + S) and SLEEP. I keep capitalizing that because we all know that you can work out all day but if sleep is absent efforts are almost in vain. Keep in mind for me sleep is not because I am some sort night owl but because I live with a DRUNK who three to four times a week gets wasted out of his head and as part of that ritual talks in a drunken psychosis to a blaring television. (Yeah, that visa is on the way!) Anyway, even when I try I rarely get more than 5 ½ hours of sleep.
..What has the work, sleep, time crunch combination done to my weight loss efforts. Well, two and half month: nothing. I have neither gained nor lost. I am in one hell of a plateau and this is going to sound mad to some but I am grateful. I am not happy and it’s very easy to think “f*ck exercise I need sleep” but at least my body isn’t showing anger at me by gaining weight. Plateaus are frustrating but so is being tethered more or less to a cubicle 12 hours a day. Ironically, my Bodymedia indicates that I am burning almost double the calories in exercise than my sparkpeople recommends with these marathon days but really… . So last week I did nutrition board post asking about taking Cinnamon, Green Tea and Cayenne supplements to help break the plateau. Wouldn’t you try these things if sleep and time and calories burned were already at their limits?
Well. The advice was frank to put it mildly. I did feel a bit ‘attacked.’ It’s true my nutrition sucks on the weekends but it seemed as few looked beyond those days to see my eating patterns during the week nor towards the other factors already mentioned. Good news for the naysayers: I had a hard time remembering to take the supplements last week and weighed in this week at 163 again…though a small part of me hopes that that might include TOM water weight.
I also want to add that apparently I worked out so hardcore the previous Sunday that I was so sore that I could barely walk until Wednesday. A big surprise to me---I did a workout I often do---but with ankle weights….damn what a difference! I have some small hope that I am losing inches all the same….everything fits well. I wear a size 10 pants, 8 shirt and 8/10 dress---I used to wear a size 22! Also, I have recently discovered that I can wear a single D bra. That would make some women sad but not me, I’ve been carrying around these Magumbos since I’ve been about eight years old and frankly shirts fit much better now!
Until next time!
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