It has been a while since my last update. Here’s why…
A good friend & donor to my fundraising campaign suggested that I take a break from anything & everything having to do with looking for employment during the holidays. She knows how much stress I’ve endured since August because of this situation. I listened to her and it did me a world of good. After the holidays, I re-started looking & applying anywhere for almost anything.
Looking & applying haven’t been fruitful overall because the economy here still sucks. From August 2013 until the end of 2013, I got calls for only 3 job interviews (1 part-time position, 2 full-time positions) out of countless jobs for which I applied. (Still haven’t heard anything from either of the three.) However, last week must have been a lucky week because I interviewed for 3 different positions (1 part-time, 2 full-time) in 3 days back-to-back; one of them called me for a 2nd interview, which I also attended last week. Hopefully something will come through. If not, I’ll keep looking & applying anyway, just like I’ve done since this situation began in August. I’ve looked and applied in different states & countries, for different opportunities and on different levels (over-qualified, under-qualified, and everything in between).
Returning overseas… I’m ambivalent. While I’ve fundraised the money needed for a new work visa (by the way, still accepting extra donations to help me get back on track), I vacillate daily between returning to England for 1-2 years and saying to myself “WTF is the point?” The country, and everything that happened to me, left a horrible taste in my mouth. I also feel somewhat defeated. I don’t know… my life (and my Self) is still in a very grey space and it’ll take me a very long time to get clarity. I still receive inquiries from England recruiters, which is alright, but I’m unclear about the visa process (haven’t applied since 2010) and may need sponsorship first before applying. So that’s another dilemma to handle, as I’m not sure what’ll happen with job opportunities here (or anywhere else, for that matter).
This is the short version of the story called my life. I’m still in limbo until further notice.
Home (bitter)sweet home. https://spinsterscompass.wordpress.com/2013/10/27/home-bittersweet-home/
Hard knock life. https://spinsterscompass.wordpress.com/2013/11/06/hard-knock-life/
This sounds familiar. https://spinsterscompass.wordpress.com/2013/11/14/this-sounds-familiar/
Reset my life. https://spinsterscompass.wordpress.com/2013/11/21/reset-my-life/
Some things change… https://spinsterscompass.wordpress.com/2013/12/19/some-things-change/
It usually amazes me when someone from here tells me that I’ve visited places here that they’ve never visited before… and they’ve lived here all or most of their lives (!!!). Here’s a short & simple guide for those of you who don’t explore your own hometowns. You may think your hometown is boring or worthless or useless, but maybe if you take on these simple suggestions, you’ll re-discover your city in a new light.
1. See the classics, the trademarks, the shining emblems of what makes your city yours.
Don’t be afraid to be a tourist now and again. It’s funny how we get so caught up in wanting to prove that we are natives, that we belong, that many of us go our whole lives without ever seeing the statue of liberty when we live only a few minutes away.
2. If you don’t live in the crux of the city, in the middle of the hustle and bustle, pretend you do for a day, and do as the locals do.
Eat like a local. Shop like one too. Consumerism can get the best of us all, so you have to remember that there are always fantastic little spots tucked away in secret if only you take a little time to look. When I was growing up, I used to tell my parents…
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(My From Above post inspired me to write the following post.)
I’m a New York City girl. I was born & raised there, it’s part of my identity, and it reverberates through my heart & soul. No matter where I go, it’ll always be my first home.
So when I began receiving e-mails some years ago from different agencies & organisations, recruiting Americans to work overseas, I refused many of them. Why, you ask? Among other reasons, I just couldn’t see myself living that far away from a city centre. It was only when I was ready, and only when I received e-mails from bigger places, that I decided it was time to make my move.
So here I am, solo, almost 3 years later. Although I know people here, they either don’t like doing the things I do and/or they’re flakes. Also, although there are lots of couples here (which is a feat in itself, in my opinion), dating in this country is different from dating back home. Since moving here, no one likes me, no one approaches me, and despite my many efforts at being open to dating/relationships here, nothing ever happened. As a result, I do things solo 98% of the time.
This is where being a city girl comes in handy. There are so many things to do here, I can get on solo with no problems. For example, in the From Above post, I went to the food festival on my own. I asked a couple of people if they wanted to go, and they either never responded or they flaked out on me at the last minute… which is why I often don’t bother inviting people with me anywhere. Since my friends are back home and they’re the only ones who like at least some of the things I like, I just do things on my own over here. What better place to do that than in a big city? (And as I’ve said countless times, thank goodness for Meetup.) I know I wouldn’t do well solo if I was far outside of a big city. I probably would’ve moved back home by now, honestly, if I lived that far away.
So for me, living in or very close to a big city suits me best. I need access to many different venues & activities, and a big city usually has these things easily accessible to its inhabitants & visitors. Don’t get me wrong – I appreciate suburban & rural areas for escaping from the negative aspects of city life, including
stupid self-entitled neighbours with loud, crying, whining ass children noise & rude people. But even in a big city, I can find (and have found) a quiet place to call home.
So expatriates, in what environment did you grow up? In what environment are you currently living, and which one do you prefer & why?
(Thanks to today’s Daily Prompt, I decided that this new blog post title is just as good as my original blog post title.)
There has been a lot going on over the past few weeks. These are things that, overall, are out of my control. Change is rarely easy, let’s be honest. It can come suddenly, or, as would be the best scenario, one can get advance notice and prepare as much as possible under the circumstances.
In my case, the transitions I’m going through came with very little (if any) notice. As a result, these transitions take up a lot of my time and, therefore, I’ll be taking a bit of a blog break for a couple of months. When I say “break”, I don’t mean that you won’t see any posts. All it means is that I’ll be posting less than once weekly for now, as I still have many blog drafts to complete & publish (i.e. my last Portugal series post, Italy series posts on the other blog, other expat-related posts, etc.) and don’t wanna keep you (or me) waiting any longer to complete & publish them.
Please bear with me as I take myself through these transitions. I promise you – I’ll see you on the other side.
Well… it’s supposed to be. But England’s weather – a topic of countless conversations in this country – changes as much as certain celebrities change romantic partners, so I’m not sure when there will be true spring weather. In the meantime, I took a few photos of what’s blooming for the season.
One of the best inventions known to man is online grocery shopping. As someone who has a hectic job, no car (yet) or energy sometimes, this is a (lazy/tired/exhausted/working) woman’s dream come true. So once I got settled into my own flat, I took full advantage. I pick up items from the big-box versions of (online & non-online) stores when basic items run out or I need something quick, but most is online.
Most people in the United Kingdom get paid only once per month, so we’re careful with grocery shopping. While I don’t have a family to feed, I make sure that I have enough cash to buy food along with paying annoying bills. So I was quite annoyed a few months ago when I missed my grocery delivery from a certain store because of its terrible customer service.
I’d just been paid and, as usual, placed my grocery order. I thought that everything was fine until I received a text message from the grocery store (something to the effect of)
Please contact customer service as soon as possible at (phone number), otherwise today’s order is canceled.
Again, I don’t have a family to feed, but I have to eat just like everyone else. So even though I was on public transportation and hate talking on the phone in public, food is important so I called back. The customer service representation, a woman, said “We’re having trouble getting your payment for your order.” I said
Alright. I’m on my way to work, so I’ll go to the bank and see what’s going on because I know that the money is there. I’ll call back afterwards; maybe there’s an issue at the bank.
So instead of going to the office, I went to the bank first. After waiting in the queue for a few minutes (rare), the bank teller (known as “cashier” in the United Kingdom) was ready for me. I explained the situation, she checked my account and said
Everything’s fine. You have more than enough to cover the order.
Would you mind if I called (grocery store) in front of you to see what happens? For some reason, my order isn’t going through.
There were very few people in the bank (rare) so she let me go ahead.
I called customer service & spoke with a different representative. I explained the situation, requesting that he attempt the order again. He tried it and the order didn’t go through. He said (something to the effect of)
It’s isn’t going through. You don’t have enough money, so you need to go to your bank and see what’s going on.
Sir, I’m in the bank now standing in front of a cashier who already checked my account, and there’s more than enough to cover the order. Please try again.
He tried again and said
It’s not going through. You don’t have enough money. It’s not a problem on (grocery store’s) end.
I repeated myself again and added
It has to be on your end. I’m telling you, the cashier is showing me the computer screen with my account information as we speak and there is more than enough to cover it. You can even speak to her if you’d like.
(By this time, she was speaking loud enough for him to hear that the account is fine and that it has to be on [grocery store’s] end and not the bank’s end.)
He stated that it wasn’t necessary because it was the bank’s fault and “the bank needs to fix the problem, not (grocery store).” I asked to speak with a manager or supervisor, and he said that no one was available (liar).
By this time I was late for work, annoyed & hungry since I didn’t have breakfast, and pissed that I wouldn’t have groceries because my refrigerator was close to bare. I also had a strict exercise schedule after work so if I had to go to the store myself, it threw a wrench into my after-work plans. So I let him have it nice & loud. (That’s also the day that I realized the strength of my New York City accent and boy, did it come out that day.) I can’t remember every word, but it went something like this:
I’ve lived here for a year. I’ve ordered groceries from this store ever since I moved here. I’ve given you my business each month without fail, and this is how you wanna treat me? I told you for the hundredth time that I’m in the bank in front of a cashier and the money is there, I asked you to let me speak with a supervisor and you said no, and you refuse to bend. You refuse to consider that (grocery store) have the issue, not me. So you know what? Cancel my order and my account. I’ve had it. You’ve lost another customer.
He said “Okay.” and I hung up on him. Friggin’ jerk.
I thanked the teller, apologized for being loud in the bank (she understood), and went to work. I told my co-workers what happened and while they found it amusing, they also found it annoying. I didn’t know that customer service in this country was so… lacking.
Coming from the United States, I’m used to better customer service overall; some representatives even brown-nose when it’s unnecessary. I salute good customer service representatives because I know the nonsense they have to deal with – rude & downright disgusting customers, terrible pay, sometimes no health or vacation benefits & terrible bosses/employers. I’ve worked in customer service as a teller & in other capacities and know how bad it is. I’ve walked away from a few customers in the past – didn’t wanna catch a case. :-|
So, I “get” it. Customer service isn’t the best job to work in. Been there, done that, the customer is not always right. I also understand, having been to European countries, that Europe’s overall culture isn’t into customer service that brown-noses like the U.S. But no matter the country, representatives should offer a level of service such that the customer is helped as much as possible. That level of service is lacking here overall; even native Britons complain about it. (I’ve heard that France is worse.)
I doubt that it’ll ever change and that’s fine. I don’t have to like it but I’m used to it. I’ve written this rant for wanna-be expatriates and/or travelers: no country is perfect, including so-called First World countries. You’ll run into annoyances like this sometimes. You don’t have to totally assimilate into the adopted country’s culture, but understand that some things are standard & may never change. Figure out ways to deal or return to your home country.
Epilogue: I e-mailed a complaint to the store. A woman e-mailed me and her response was utter garbage – no apology for her colleague, no request to stay with the store, no offers to make me reconsider leaving the store – nothing. That evening, I skipped the gym and went food shopping at another store. I order online from the new store instead & haven’t had any issues since. I also found out that the former store is a Wal-Mart affiliate. Now it all makes sense. :-|
Does anyone have any annoying customer service stories? What’s customer service like in your adopted country? Do you prefer customer service in your home country, or is it better in your adopted country?