A 2015 recap of sorts, and other things II

I chronicled the first half of my 2015 here, and it was too long so I decided to post in 2 bits. Here’s the other bit.

Jul – Sept

I moved back with no job in sight but many entrepreneurial ideas (because what else could I really do?). I have friends though, who sent my CV around and about 4 days after I got back, I got a job and my boss is my type of person, and I’m quite well-paid, so yay! My entrepreneurial ideas are now dusty though, but that’s fine for now.

Because I was broke and wasn’t sure where I was going to live when I got back, I made arrangements to go stay with the bf for a while. Even when I got a job, there were some delays with the project I was supposed to handle and I had to work remotely while that got sorted, so I was still living with the bf. That was good for us in a way, because it’s like suddenly being around each other all the time after years of long-distance. It also meant having to fly to Lagos every time either/both of my parents announced their presence, because of course I couldn’t tell them I was perching with the bf, they thought I lived with a friend in Lagos.

Aside: This friend’s house used to be my default place to stay in Lagos but she had gotten tired of the place because it wasn’t in the best location and then some dynamics in the house itself were annoying, so she  moved to a better location with better ‘dynamics’. The only snag was I couldn’t ‘move’ with her. My folks already knew about this friend but at the time I was coming back, I couldn’t tell them she’d moved because then they’d have been extra curious about where I was supposed to be living.

Oct – Dec

I travelled quite some between July and November, but for reasons too long to get into right now, my project got cancelled. So now I was and am still hanging in the balance (because I don’t have a signed contract, only a verbal, good-faith one) but working and getting paid every month.

I interviewed for a UX Design job in Kano though, and I’m hoping that comes through so that I can have a contract and my own house – even though I’m looking at houses in Lagos in case Kano doesn’t pan out. If it does though, I hope my present boss can keep me on as a remote freelancer (i.e. I want to turn his projects into my side hustle) because somehow I’m sure I’d be able to handle the load, as long as I’m still allowed to define the amount and kind of work I want to do. Fingers crossed 🙂

I’m in a pretty good place now, and I’m thankful that things are going relatively okay. I don’t have much money but I’m not destitute and reliant on my folks to subsidize my life. I had 10 goals this year, and I think I accomplished about 5.5 of them. I’m still very thankful, and hopeful for a better 2016.

I’m thankful for my family, and my boyfriend, and friends, and ALL the patience and support I’ve gotten. I’m thankful for safe travels and smooth plane rides (I really hate turbulence and my stomach drops every time there’s a bump). Thankful for relative financial ease in this last quarter, and my mother’s cooking. For good health all-round, and that there were no deaths in my immediate circle this year. For the great things that happened and are happening in the lives of ‘my people’.

In 2016 I’d like to grow as a UX Designer, by taking on more design projects in a structured environment (and I think the Kano job is the perfect avenue for me but let’s see how that goes), and I’d like to try my hand at a new UX-related blog which I’ll talk about if I do. I also want 2016 to be more fun than 2013 was, so I’d like to travel to new places (but also save money and make investments, and I wonder how I’ll pull that one off), meet interesting people, get a car, implement at least one of my entrepreneurial ideas for passive income, and kick ass at my job. Maybe I can also FINALLY learn to play the violin too.

For some inexplicable reason, the phrase “stay hungry, stay foolish” just popped into my head. I’ve just googled and seen that it’s a quote by Steve Jobs, and also the title of a book. Well, I hope that’s what I do in 2016 but not in the literal sense because it’s a very bad idea for one to literally remain without nourishment and/or wisdom.

Happy Holidays! x

 

January 2015: Job?

Hey, how are you? Are you happy? Are things going well with you?

This month has been, as Januaries are, very long. That’s just me stating the obvious as I try to think of what to write.

When I was going to Nigeria in December, I expected to be interviewed for a job in an investments company, because I had already begun the process of introducing self and sending CV. I got to Nigeria and called to say “I’m here, here’s my number, here are my travel plans so here’s the window we have to get this interview and other things sorted, k? Ta.” And then I went about my fun activities and waited for them to call. No call. I called a second time, and they said “we’ll call you soon”. Still nothing. Around December 26, I started to converse with myself, like “So, you’ve come to Nigeria and achieved a couple of things, but you’ll leave without a job offer, is it?” and then I scrolled through my contacts to see who could possibly help. I mean, they say “opportunities don’t float in the air, they’re tied to people”, right? I’m not the biggest networker (read: I’m not at all a networker), but I thought I better sit up and ‘take charge of my destiny’ (-_-). Well, as it turned out, the only person I contacted had 2 (TWO!) opportunities ‘tied’ to him, so yay. I sent my CV, told him about my travel plans, yadi yadi yah, and waited. I was supposed to leave Nigeria on January 6th. January 5th, someone called to say he wanted an interview that afternoon. I had the interview, and then a test, and he said he’d be in touch. January 6th, I left Nigeria early in the morning. Let me speak about my airport run for a minute.

My flight was supposed to be for 6:20am, and I left the house at a few minutes before 5:00am. I tried to check in online on the way there – because that’s exactly what I did when I was going to Nigeria: checked in on the train, on the way to Schiphol – but that didn’t work. How sway? Anyway, I got to the airport, they said I was late and could not be checked in, and that they don’t do online check-in. O.o Well, in buying my ticket(s), I had paid an extra €5-8 for such a time as this, so that I’d be able to reschedule with no major consequence to my bank balance. So, I asked how I could reschedule, since I was late. The man in charge said “you’re very rich, abi? Because that’s what I’m hearing. That you’re very rich”. I asked how exactly I implied that, but at that moment, a very Yoruba woman came up, she already knew she was late, so she started – I don’t know what word to use here – wailing, but sans tears. “Ah, e gba mi, I’m a studeeent, I dun haf money, e jo sah, I’m sorry”. I was very amused but I didn’t dare laugh, as I very much wanted to be on that flight if it was possible. Long story short, the man in charge agreed and our passports were scanned and we were checked in, etc. The moral of the story is that Nigerians in any position of power are likely to expect you to be obsequious. They will help you eventually, but first, you should beg. Stupid, because, if you’re going to help me anyway, why make me beg first? To validate your importance? LOL. Moving on…

I landed in Schiphol at 16:30 and switched SIM cards, whereupon I saw that I had voicemail. I listened, and it was from the second ‘opportunity’. Apparently, they had tried to call my Nigerian number but it was switched off, and being aware of my travel plans, deduced that I had left Nigeria, so they called my Dutch number. I called back the next day, we set up an interview date, and now, yours truly has a job and is moving back to Nigeria. (I’m on probation for 3 months though, but fingers crossed.) I’ll be working remotely for the first month (and a half, probably). The investment company from earlier? Oh, they also tried to call me the day I left, and, not reaching me, did not think to call my Dutch number. I know this because they asked my original contact to send me a message. I rolled my eyes so hard, because why didn’t they contact me before now? Oh, the person who was supposed to interview you was on vacation and no one knew. You don’t say. So why didn’t you contact me when you saw that there were delays? Was I supposed to wait indefinitely? Silence. Meh. #ByeFelicia

My new job starts on Monday, and I’ve been trying to learn all sorts of stuff that I need to know to succeed. Like, I’m really glad I got this job because I have zero experience but I’m prepared to learn and show them. I’ve learned that it’s not always important to cram information in your head, but you should know where to get the information when you need it. So I’m doing a bit of cramming and a bit of bookmarking, and a bit of experimentation (because, learn by doing). I’ve also not gotten to where I need to be because I’ve been supremely lazy. You know when my mates got jobs in the summer and then proceeded to travel and have ‘many funs’ on vacay? I couldn’t go on extended vacations because I was applying for jobs every single day. I was thinking “what if I get called for an interview and I’m away?” But lol, evidently, I needn’t have worried. Now I’m making up for that, somewhat.

Am I happier these days? Yes. Things on different fronts appear to be shaping up nicely, so can’t complain. New job is in a media company so promises to be lots of fun. Fingers crossed.

Netherlands

So I’ve moved. I’m just going to list the pros and cons so far, and update as time goes on. You can keep checking back if you wish.

Pros

1. I have a balcony, and a hammock in it.

2. I’ve always wanted to live on a busy street, and now I do. There’s a bank, shopping center, bar and restaurant just across. There’s a bus stop right in front of my house.

3. Things are quite cheap, compared to Finland. I’ve been going “OMG” in the stores around.

4. There’s a TV in my room.

5. I have a couch in my room.

6. Not sure if this is a pro, but I literally chose this apartment because the rent is cheap. I reasoned that if I’m going to have to share a bathroom with other people, surely I won’t be coughing out 350 Eur every month for rent (that’s what school-affiliated landlords charge).

7. The weather is warm enough.

8. Apparently, there are more job opportunities here. I’m still looking for them though :/

9. New: There’s a street market that holds every Thursday, right in front of my house. Sort of like the summer market in Kauppatori in Turku, or the marche on Cours Mirabeau in Aix. Actually, not ‘sort of’, it’s exactly the same thing.

10. New: I’ve found cider. Opened the 1st bottle 2 days ago. Tastes like Magners. Ugh. There’s this nice looking one called ‘caribbean rum’, with coconut and pineapple. 5%. Packaging looks nice, I shall try it and update as appropriate.

Cons

1. I just found out I have to share the balcony with one more person.

2. I’m sharing a bathroom and toilet with 4 people. And I have already seen skid marks in the toilet. Way too early guys, waaayyy too early.

3a. My room is the tiniest room I’ve ever seen. It’s literally the size of my pantry back in Nigeria.

3b. Because of this, my bed is a double decker. Only, instead of having another bed under, there’s a reading table, and a dresser shelf above that. Try to picture that, I’ll wait….

4. The kitchen sink is the weirdest thing I’ve ever seen. Even the precolonial houses in Enugu boast better sinks. Haba.

5. The air feels stale.

6. My closet is positioned funny. Behind the bed. The bed is fastened to the wall. So I have to wriggle, to get to the things in the closet. Sigh. There’s no mirror in my room too.

7. I haven’t found cider yet, only been seeing beer and wine 😦

8. Contrary to what I was told, my internet is quite shitty. Ugh.

9. New: I had forgotten all about household pests till I got here. No, there aren’t cockroaches or rodents (yet?), but I have seen creepy crawly things everyday since I got here.

10. New: It rained throughout yesterday, and my ‘landlord’ sent me a message to, among other things, inform me that this is normal weather in NL. Is there any point owning a bicycle then? I mean, how can I be riding a bicycle under pouring rain?

11. New: I can’t use my Visa card in most stores, so until I open a bank account and get my debit card, I’m stuck with cash payments. Way to go, NL.

I’m still hoping I enjoy this place.

Time to Say My Goodbyes

Yes, the dreaded time has come. I really did not think I would fall in love with Finland the way I have, but well, here I am. I was really scared of the cold, because of the way it was described, but now I’ve been through it, and c’mon. There was no time that I felt really cold, none at all. Even with the weather at -11 degrees and lower, I was fine. Like they say, there’s no bad weather, only bad clothes. I didn’t really like the fact that it used to get dark at 16:00 though. However, I’m happy to report that summer more than makes up for winter. Really. Like, it doesn’t get dark at all at night, it’s warm, everything is nice…I could go on and on. I’m really going to come back and live in Finland. People like to tell me that I’m probably enjoying it because I live in a student community, so there are like-minded people around me, etc..and that if I come back here to work, I will be bored senseless, because Finns aren’t necessarily the friendliest people on earth. Well, that’s exactly why I would fit right in. Who says I like to talk to people? Socializing once in a while is fine, but I really can’t handle constant parties and ‘hangouts’. Miss me with that.

As I was saying, Finland has been the most interesting part of my journey so far, and in my friend’s words, “I have no doubt that Netherlands would be the least exciting part of this your educational sojourn”. Sigh. I’m really going to try to keep an open mind, but it’s difficult to do that when you don’t even have a bathroom to yourself. Yes guys, I’m going to have to be sharing a bathroom, and you remember how dutch toilets look, yeah? *Shudder* However, I have to say that the Netherlands seems to have more job prospects and all, probably because of its proximity to the U.K and Germany; therefore it might be more practical for me to remain there. <Pep talk to myself:>It’s also not fair to judge a place before you’ve been there, how would you feel if people simply assumed you were a sad, tiny girl, simply because you never smile without cause?</Pep talk>

Of course packing is the biggest female dog there is. And of course I’ve acquired yet another suitcase. Excess luggage is basically my middle name at this point, there’s no need to pretend otherwise. I dread the journey ahead though, because it involves taxis, buses, trains, and the only one that doesn’t involve any stress, a plane. Sigh. Oh. You guys, I heard that since Mutallab pulled that stunt that year, Schiphol has been extra strict on Nigerians – because he basically passed through there with the bomb thing, undetected. I don’t want to laugh, I really don’t. Moving on…so I’m gonna miss my huge room and private bathroom and everything, and the awesome view from my window. On the bright side, I hear things are cheaper in NL, and the internet speed in my new house is supposedly fast. I’ve also been assured that my housemates are very nice people, we shall see. (I don’t care, I want Finland!)

By the way, I’ve been learning Dutch, but something happened today that made me stop and think: A couple of guys stopped me on the road to say hi, etc*, and they spoke to me in Finnish. After the greetings, which I responded to, my brain literally entered ‘flight mode’ and the only thing I could think of was “en puhuu suomea” Translation: I don’t speak Finnish.. So they continued in English, and well, moved on. After I left them, my brain started replaying the encounter and I started discovering that oh, I actually understood everything they said, because I knew all the words. But at the point where I should have showed understanding, my brain refused to function. Sigh. This is what was happening in France too…am I wasting my time learning Dutch? The Dutch speak excellent English, so there really might be no need. I’ll force myself though. I must have a second language that I’m fluent in.

*Note: this is weird, because Finnish people supposedly never talk to strangers on the road, unless there’s an emergency. This was no emergency

…continuation

5. Coding: Ehen, so I saw that video where Mark Zuckerberg and Bill Gates and a host of other people were talking about coding and things, and being the curious cat that I am, I actually decided to check out the rest of the website (well played, whoever is behind that), and so…well…*twiddles fingers*…yours truly is now trying to learn how to code, one baby step at a time. If it doesn’t go well, if I get bored, if I forget it, it will not be spoken of again. *beep* Oh they just sent me an email, the people running the site: ‘3 tips for learning how to code’; one of them says to tell a friend. Well, I’m not telling anyone, I’m not interested in falling flat on my face and having to explain anything, thank you. Bye.

6. Conversations with my father: I miss my family, and I look forward to conversations with the father, because I like how we talk about grown up stuff like the economy, and we diss each others’ professions as well, LOL. Quite a long way from my extremely stubborn teenage days. These conversations leave my hand cramping from having to hold my phone for too long (yes I know what speaker phone is, go away), but they’re filled with hilarity as well, well…mostly him laughing at and indulging my exuberant excesses, for example:

Him: why do you want to travel to xxx?

Me: because I want to see the world

Him: there’s nothing in all those museums you want to see

Me: I’m aware, but I want to be able to confirm for myself, that there’s really nothing special. Have you even been to xxx before? How do you know?

Him: Haha, so how much is this trip?

Me: xxx Euros, but I’m looking for a job so I can pay for it myself.

Him: Hahaha, I see. Where will you find this job? I will send you money.

Me: ( ._.)

7. Nigerian food: So my folks sent me soup stuff, yay! and I made Onugbu soup, but I shan’t be posting a picture. I was going to, but then I sent it to my friend and he asked if that was Okra soup. My ‘chef self esteem’ darn near plummeted, because the 2 are not even related in any way! Looks more like Afang than Okra, but he’s a guy so I shall assume he doesn’t know anything, and that my camera did not capture the ‘essence’ of my soup properly. It tastes awesome sha, so I don’t care 😀

8. European Job Day: I went for this last week, and well, it was useful, aaaand I got all sorts of presents. If you ever need a pen, I’ve got loads of fancy ones, and I’ve got a fish-shaped sharpie, among loads of other stuff. Oh I got an apple too 😀

9. Wine: So I bought a bottle of white wine, and it tastes really really good. While drinking it, I discovered that being inebriated just makes me sleepy, nothing more. So yay, I am not the sort to dance on tables when drunk. (._.)

Kolme, Neljä

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Have I mentioned how grateful I am that these people speak English, in addition to Finnish and Swedish? No? I am totally grateful. I have learned 2 things so far: one is that the Finnish do not have a word for ‘please’, the second is that ‘thank you’ in Finnish is ‘kiitos’.

Today is orientation, and then a bus tour afterwards. The bus tour is interesting, but we do not stop to look closely at any of the things or places we see, and this, combined with the weather and comfort of the bus makes me really sleepy. Err, I don’t like snow. It’s beautiful until you have to walk on dirty streets that look even dirtier, thanks to the wet snow. Oh and the dog poop thing on the streets, I’ve seen it about twice now. On snow. Eww.

We have to go collect our ‘starter package’ afterwards, but I really don’t need it. The package consists of a duvet, pillow, and kitchen stuff. You have to pay some money though, 70% of which will be refunded after you return the stuff in good condition. The previous tenant left me a really clean duvet (which I don’t even need right now) and pillow, I already have a pot, plus there’s lots in the kitchen.

The cold: Average temperature is -5 degrees, for now. I think my ugly winter jacket is doing a pretty good job. I may have to buy better boots though, in case I ever have to walk in about 2 inches of snow. Not quite sure how the ones I wear now would hold up, as they are not proper snow boots.

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The cafeteria food is awesome, and you get to serve yourself whatever amount you can finish. I will try to eat really well in the afternoons, so that I don’t have to eat anything serious at night…but unfortunately, my tummy capacity is really small and it can’t hold much food at one time 😦 .

My bank account is finally open, and now I can pay my rent (have to pay before the 6th, else they would charge 8% extra for every day I default), and every other thing I need to pay for. I wish there weren’t so many things to pay for. Speaking about money, I’m seriously thinking about getting a job, if my lectures are not so stressful. I will convince my father to let me.

Still haven’t figured how to use the cooker, and I haven’t actually met anyone in the kitchen that I could ask. My muffin stash is depleting 😦

The only convenience store on my side of the students’ residence is located just behind my room, and my room is on the ground floor (how else would I have carried The Monster and my 2 other pieces of luggage?) 🙂