What I’m doing here

I finally worked out (just today) what I’m doing here.

That’s not to say I didn’t have lots of perfectly good answers to that question before, now it just makes more sense to me!

I’m doing research.

We’ve already been through the whole I don’t know what to do with my life, and will no doubt go through it again and again, as soon as I’ve made a decision I feel great, then gradually start to think about all the other things I love, the things I passionately wanted to pursue before ‘financial security’ became an issue. Then I question my decision again.

When you are in your groove, your normal everyday life, doing the work you usually do, seeing the people you usually see, completely in your comfort zone, you, or at least I, would never have thought of quitting a stable permanent job just to hang around in the same town trying some other things out. Maybe people have done this, Gala darling is certainly someone who did, if any more of you have I’d love to hear about it! Now that I’ve written it down it doesn’t sound like such a bad idea, and would probably have been both cheaper and easier than the path I chose to find my way. Somehow though spending copious amounts of money comes more naturally when you are ‘travelling’. When you’re not travelling you’re usually saving for something and thus more concerned about money. As well as not worrying about not being employed, being so far out of your comfort zone opens up a world of opportunity, why not push your boundaries further, you can be anything, go anywhere, be anyone. So who do you want to be?

I left my ‘stable’ life and ‘secure’ career behind for so many reasons. For experience, for a challenge, for adventure. I knew there was more out there for me and I came out to find it. A year of self discovery. A year of discovery in general. A year of trying out as many of the other things I’ve thought about doing for a career as I can fit in, while still taking care of myself, to see if they are right for me. Can you imagine? How much happier would everyone be if we were easily able to properly try out different careers before choosing the one/s to commit to? Not a new concept, that’s why temporary employment is so common, (there’s a great article on it here for those of you who are ‘temps’, despite the lingering opinions that staying in the one organisation for 10 or more years is the only way to go).

Whilst I am thoroughly enjoying learning all I can about running a cafe, I now also have a part-time job at an English language school where I can learn about teaching English as a second language, very important for people who want to be able to work all over the world. I will also be doing a few hours a week during May as unpaid work experience at the book shop. Yay! I love books.

Now that I’ve started this though, and realised what is possible, I’m going to have to strictly prioritise the rest! I’ve wanted to be a lot of things in my time! 

So! Hi ho, hi ho and off to work we go!


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Cooking again!!!

I hadn’t realised it had been such a long time since I’d baked! 4 weeks!

While I was staying with my couch surfing friend I took to her kitchen and whipped up Banana bread for her birthday and then two batches of muffins, just because I could!

It was so nice to be cooking again! The Banana bread came out really well. The muffins I based on a basic recipe I found on the internet, propped my iPhone up on the bench and got to baking! Low fat wholemeal apple, walnut & cinnamon and raspberry & almond muffins. The apple ones were the best. The raspberry ones weren’t so good but we ate them anyway.

I was glad any of it turned out really, it is always difficult to adjust to baking in another country, the flours and other ingredients are often slightly different so things don’t always go the way they usually would.

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Trading cards

Some days I feel like I’m going around in circles! It’s like trading cards, I swap one  I have for another one but don’t end up with any more cards than I had before. Just different cards.

The interview on Monday was fun, if you’re allowed to use the word ‘fun’ in description of an interview. The people were really nice, it felt more like an induction than an interview. I kept getting asked things to the effect of ‘does that sound interesting’ and ‘do you think you’d like to work here’. The more I heard the more I thought I would, the job was repetitive and process intensive but the potential international opportunities within such a massive multinational company were obvious. At the same time I had to wonder if this would be selling out as I’m not entirely sure my values would match with all of the goings on and wider associations of the organisation.
Also I found out during the interview that it wasn’t a maternity leave position, the woman had left and got a job somewhere else, and that while they were advertising it as a six month contract they’d actually like to extend it for longer. I nodded and smiled and agreed and said yes I could work for more than six months and that my visa is valid until March.

By Thursday I hadn’t heard anything and was contacted by another organisation (a very bright lovely organisation, also multinational, definitely more in tune with my values) and offered an interview on Friday.

Aaaggh! Dilemma. I didn’t want to muck any organisations around, but I need a job and I like this organisation so of course I went.

This interview was great as well, it was more like a normal interview, discussing my background etc. I really like the people and the job is not high stress all of the time and certainly not repetitive. It’s  only part-time, so at this stage it would be weighing up money with morals. That’s how it always works though isn’t it. Otherwise we’d all join Greenpeace or Oxfam or another ‘save the world’ organisation and spend our lives fighting crimes against the environment and humanity. If it weren’t for the fact that we needed the money.

Lucky for me the world decided for me the dilemma was diverted, the world decided for me and put me back on the right track.

The first job was a no ‘they really liked you but have gone with someone else because really you were only looking for a job for six months’. Hmmm, did I say that? Wasn’t the job advertised as a 6 month job? Anyway, trade that card in and I got offered a second round interview for the really lovely, bright, friendly helping people job. YAY!

So that’s the interview I’m waiting to attend now. Waiting, waiting, waiting. Sometimes trading this interview or application for that one but not ending up with any more cards in my hand.

I hope that changes soon!

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I’m in the waiting place again, or still, depending on how you look at it. This time I’m waiting for the police to have time to see me so that I may report the apartment scam. 15 minutes to 45 minutes they said I would have to wait. I wonder if they will come out to find me or if I will need to ring the bell again.
With a second interview next Tuesday this is a week of waiting.
At least tomorrow I will be waiting in Heidelberg, that should be much more interesting!

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The incomparable Dr Seuss

I would like to share with you some words of wisdom from the incomparable Dr Seuss. I found this on a friends blog from when she went to live and work in France, it held so much relevance for me and I’m sure everyone will find something of benefit in it. I’ve checked through the net for copyright information and haven’t found anything saying I can’t put it up here, if somebody knows something I don’t let me know! Otherwise here goes – Nobody can explain things quite like Dr Seuss:

Oh! The Places You’ll Go!
by the incomparable Dr. Seuss

Today is your day.
You’re off to Great Places!
You’re off and away!

You have brains in your head.
You have feet in your shoes.
You can steer yourself any direction you choose.
You’re on your own. And you know what you know.
And YOU are the guy who’ll decide where to go.

You’ll look up and down streets. Look’em over with care.
About some you will say, “I don’t choose to go there.”
With your head full of brains and your shoes full of feet,
you’re too smart to go down a not-so-good street.

And you may not find any you’ll want to go down.
In that case, of course, you’ll head straight out of town.
It’s opener there in the wide open air.

Out there things can happen and frequently do
 to people as brainy and footsy as you.

And when things start to happen, don’t worry. Don’t stew.
Just go right along. You’ll start happening too.

Oh! The Places You’ll Go!

You’ll be on your way up!
You’ll be seeing great sights!
You’ll join the high fliers who soar to high heights.

You won’t lag behind, because you’ll have the speed.
You’ll pass the whole gang and you’ll soon take the lead.
Wherever you fly, you’ll be best of the best.
Wherever you go, you will top all the rest.

Except when you don’t.
Because, sometimes, you won’t.

I’m sorry to say so but, sadly, it’s true
that Bang-ups and Hang-ups can happen to you.

You can get all hung up in a prickle-ly perch.
And your gang will fly on. You’ll be left in a Lurch.

You’ll come down from the Lurch with an unpleasant bump.
And the chances are, then, that you’ll be in a Slump.

And when you’re in a Slump, you’re not in for much fun.
Un-slumping yourself is not easily done.

You will come to a place where the streets are not marked.
Some windows are lighted. But mostly they’re darked.
A place you could sprain both your elbow and chin!
Do you dare to stay out? Do you dare to go in?
How much can you lose? How much can you win?

And if you go in, should you turn left or right
…or right-and-three-quarters? Or, maybe, not quite?
Or go around back and sneak in from behind?
Simple it’s not, I’m afraid you will find,
for a mind-maker-upper to make up his mind.

You can get so confused that you’ll start in to race
down long wiggled roads at a break-necking pace
and grind on for miles across weirdish wild space,
headed, I fear, toward a most useless place.

The Waiting Place…for people just waiting.

Waiting for a train to go or a bus to come, or a plane to go or the mail to come, or the rain to go or the phone to ring, or the snow to snow or waiting around for a Yes or No or waiting for their hair to grow. Everyone is just waiting.

Waiting for the fish to bite or waiting for wind to fly a kite or waiting around for Friday night or waiting, perhaps, for their Uncle Jake or a pot to boil, or a Better Break or a string of pearls, or a pair of pants or a wig with curls, or Another Chance. Everyone is just waiting.

No! That’s not for you!
Somehow you’ll escape all that waiting and staying.
You’ll find the bright places where Boom Bands are playing.
With banner flip-flapping, once more you’ll ride high!
Ready for anything under the sky.
Ready because you’re that kind of a guy!

Oh, the places you’ll go! There is fun to be done!
There are points to be scored. There are games to be won.
And the magical things you can do with that ball
will make you the winning-est winner of all.
Fame! You’ll be famous as famous can be,
with the whole wide world watching you win on TV.

Except when they don’t. Because, sometimes, they won’t.

I’m afraid that sometimes you’ll play lonely games too.
Games you can’t win ‘cause you’ll play against you.

All Alone!
Whether you like it or not, Alone will be something you’ll be quite a lot.

And when you’re alone, there’s a very good chance
you’ll meet things that scare you right out of your pants.
There are some, down the road between hither and yon,
that can scare you so much you won’t want to go on.

But on you will go though the weather be foul.
On you will go though your enemies prowl.
On you will go though the Hakken-Kraks howl.
Onward up many a frightening creek,
though your arms may get sore and your sneakers may leak.
On and on you will hike. And I know you’ll hike far
 and face up to your problems whatever they are.

You’ll get mixed up, of course, as you already know.
You’ll get mixed up with many strange birds as you go.
So be sure when you step. Step with care and great tact
and remember that Life’s a Great Balancing Act.
Just never forget to be dexterous and deft.
And never mix up your right foot with your left.

And will you succeed?
Yes! You will, indeed!
(98 and ¾ percent guaranteed.)

Kid, you’ll move mountains!
So…be your name Buxbaum or Bixby or Bray
or Mordecai Ale Van Allen O’Shea,
 you’re off to Great Places!
Today is your day!
Your mountain is waiting.
So…get on your way!

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Finding my place – an epic monologue of new friends and share houses

On Thursday week before last I attended my first meeting of the English book club and I loved it! I had such a lovely time meeting expats from the US, the UK and Canada (and I’m told there are more to come). Between that and meeting lovely people at my job in the Cookie shop I really felt I’d found friends and began to see a life for myself in Germany.

I moved into the city to stay in the youth hostel where I met fabulous travellers who made me (again) question my own concerns and worries about travelling. If a Japanese girl (her family are fine they live far away from the disaster area) with reasonable English language skills but no other European languages can travel by herself around Europe what in the world am I worried about?! Then there were two Korean girls who’s English was very rough, yet they are having a wonderful trip together! They offered me an ice cream and we sat together in the dorm having a conversation which was very simple, slow and involved lots of laughing, gesticulating and looking translations up in phones! What inspirational women!

I found some more great people in my local area via couch surfing and arranged coffee catch ups so socially everything was happening.

This along with being well into negotiations for an apartment and having a job interview for a maternity leave position scheduled for Monday I thought I was finally getting it together!

Then, as tends to be the trend, my little house of cards fell down again.

The apartment was a scam, the Nigerians. The rental property market in Europe is rife with them. So I’ve found out. While feeling frustrated, angry and incredibly stupid when I found out I also had to think ‘well you’ve got to hand it to them, they are good at what they do’. If anyone is in the same sort of predicament (i.e. looking for a rental/share house in Europe – or perhaps anywhere) this is a great website to get you started and well aware of the tricks they play http://parishousingscamwatch.wordpress.com/nigerian-scammers-who-are-they/

So that absolutely sucked and left me hanging again as the Youth Hostel had no room on Friday night.

I have been fortunate enough though to have met some wonderful people in the short week I was in the city and was taken in by a couch surfer who has been wonderfully supportive and a lot of fun to hang out with! On Thursday night after I realised the apartment thing was dodgy I checked out of the hostel and was able to go straight to my couch surfing friends place. Staying with her has been a lovely way to lift the spirits and I feel very lucky!

There still remained, however, the problem of having to rely on temporary accommodation.

Straight away on Thursday night I had a quick look at wg-gesucht to see what was available and started making a list of favourites to contact. Friday morning I continued on and sent email and sms out to 11 people. By Saturday I had heard back from one, I phoned another on Saturday night and was able to make an appointment to look at a place on Monday, then got another email on Saturday from a person telling me they had been away and I could call on Sunday at 5pm. Yay! At least that meant the place wasn’t taken yet!

By the end of Saturday my list of possibilities looked like this:

Room 1 – What is called a ‘durchgangzimmer’ which means it is the room outside her room through which she must walk whenever going between her room and the rest of the house. For  370 euro which is a bit of a rip off considering you are essentially sleeping in an oversized hallway, still beggars can’t be choosers so it remains an option.

Room 2 – a furnished room but in a house with a ‘Frankfurter bad’ something that Frankfurt was famous for back in the day, before houses had bathrooms, these houses had showers/baths installed in other rooms of the house (mostly the kitchen) which was a real luxury at the time, but sort of an inconvenience now. In this case the shower is in the other person’s bedroom so you’d need to have a schedule. For 360 euro it’s in a reasonable part of town, the same street as the one above.

Room 3 – a furnished room in a family house with a couple (I think) who have a dog, you have your own bathroom a little bit further out of the city for 330 euro. This one is my pick of the bunch I will call her this afternoon and hope against all hope that I can look at the room very soon and that she likes me.

Then I had my set of back up plans in case I hadn’t found anything in a week which went like this:

Plan B is investigating the taxi drivers mother in law (maybe) – on the way to check out the dodgy apartment the taxi driver was very nice and chatted to my friend and I (I already was getting a funny feeling about the place and had a friend come with me to investigate). It came up that we were going to look at an apartment and he told us that if it didn’t work out his mother in law was living alone, her husband had died many years ago, and there would be a room and a kitchen etc. I think also he liked the idea of his mother in law not being entirely alone. He was very nice and both my friend and I found him to be genuine and trustworthy, he gave me the details to get in contact with him. I’ve had good experience in the past with Pakistani cab drivers so I was willing to have this as something to investigate as a plan B.

Plan C is joining http://www.wwoof.de/ and working on organic farms around the place

Plan D is becoming an au pair

I was asked to work on Sunday so I put a reminder in my phone to call about room 3 at 5pm and cleared it with my boss that if I could go and look at the place right away that I would need to leave and come back.

I called at 5, had a quick chat with the lady of the house and allayed her concerns that I wouldn’t be with young people (hardly a deciding factor at this point in time) and was invited out right away, given bus details and instructed to call if I couldn’t get the bus right to the doorstep and she would come and pick me up in the car. A good start! It took about 20 minutes to get there with the bus from the city centre, a distance my boss said was ‘a very long way out’ but which to an Australian is really quite good! It took me longer to get to work in Canberra!

I met the lady of the house and their fantastic, but old and somewhat deaf, giant sheep-protecting dog, we chatted and I was shown around. This lady had realised from the inundation of emails she had received that it was difficult to find a place at the moment and had taken pity on the ‘foreigners’ who were finding it more difficult than the locals. So myself and a fellow about my age from the US came to the top of her list. YAY!

The lady of the house and I were both happy with everything and she gave me a key on the spot! I will move in Wednesday! SUCCESS!!!

We both feel bad for the student from the US though. The lady of the house has said they have a spare room full of boxes which could be cleared out if the poor fellow is desperate. I’m going to call her today though and see if she will give him my details and tell him to get in contact with me. As I’ve already spent such a long time ploughing through the offerings of wg-gesucht I don’t see why I couldn’t just keep going and check some places out to try to help him. He’s not arriving for another two weeks. Either that or I could spend the next two weeks looking for somewhere else for myself. But there seem to be a lot of apartments looking for men of his age so I expect that would be easier.

So, that, at least for the moment, is where things stand!

I went back to work after taking two hours out of the day and came home to my couch surfing friend with cookies and cake to celebrate.

I will go to the Interview this afternoon and then we’ll just have to wait and see what happens.

Much love to all


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Loose ends…

When you travel things are often very intense and happen very quickly, so here is a brief wrap of how some of the issues of the past few weeks have resolved themselves, (or not):

  1. The $1000 I transferred eventually came back to my Australian bank account albeit less a few additional exchange and transaction fees. So there was an $85 lesson in how NOT to transfer money internationally. Oh well. I’m sure it won’t be the last expensive lesson.
  2. I still don’t have my tax number thing. The story goes – I went to get the tax number, only to be told I should have registered my arrival in Germany (see post a day of wins and loses). At the next available opportunity I registered and then went straight to the Finanzamt only to be told that the registration takes up to 10 working days and I needed to wait to get an identification number in the mail. Thanks guy at the council who didn’t tell me that when I registered! Thanks a lot! So I’m still waiting for that precious little number before I can get a proper job and earn more than 400 euro a month.
  3. I found headphones for 12 euro (and they’re pink).
  4. I did a trial shift at the Aussie pub, it’s not for me, I’m not a pub person and I can’t count change quickly, the whole concept was well out of my comfort zone. I also realised after having positive feedback from some other places that I got too desperate too quickly and that I shouldn’t have any problems getting a job in a fashion retail store and other cupcake, ice cream shops etc. with nice normal hours and who don’t mind me using a calculator to work out people’s change. I’m now going to delicately manage my not ever going back there again in such a way as to avoid burning any bridges in case I do end up desperate enough to need to work there.
  5. I have bought myself a little pocket calculator for my work in the cafe.
  6. The Swarovski owner wasn’t sure if I was ‘qualified’ to work in his store, I bit my tongue so as not to point out that actually I was well over qualified and if he thought otherwise he could… well you get the picture. Instead I was very nice and said I’d be willing to do a trial shift. He hasn’t called me.

Have I missed anything?

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