Quick Update

I got the job in Kano, yay! One of the things I remember from before receiving my offer letter is having to negotiate my salary. So, you go to school where they teach you about negotiations and how the outcome of such things is supposed to be a win-win situation for both parties. Well, Nigeria is a jungle so it doesn’t quite work – in the sense that the other party is (or appears to be) trying to get an outcome that’s only favorable to them. Anyway, I got a job. As a UX Designer, which is what I want. Yay.

[Aside: I seem to have gotten interesting UX Design side projects, but getting a project is only half of it. Getting paid is the other (often more uncertain) half, and as I mentioned earlier, Nigeria is a jungle so one has to be careful with ensuring they get paid. My latest method is to bill per project instead of per hour, break projects into phases and send invoices at the end of every phase. There also has to be a 20-50% down payment to begin with. )

I haven’t been around the city much, but I will say that the move here is the easiest I’ve ever done, because I had the space to leave a lot of stuff behind and only carry the most important ones. I didn’t have to struggle too much to close my suitcases – of which there were only 2 – one big, one small. What I saw on the drive from the Kano airport to my house reminded me of Isale Eko (even though I have never been to Isale Eko :/), but with Hausa names on buildings instead of Yoruba ones. The most common public transport mode is keke napep (tricycles), but I don’t like to ride in them that much because they’re so open, Kano is super hot at about 40 degrees (what wouldn’t I give to be in Finland right now?), and dusty too. Abeg.

I live in one of the company apartments, for which I pay N40,000/month. Not bad, considering this covers furnishing, 24/7 power, and fast internet. I’m not complaining at all (okay I’m complaining small, the furnishing leaves something to be desired but I’ve told myself the theme of my room is ‘rustic’, and the furniture matches that aesthetic). Lunch is a pain in the ass for me, because there’s no cafeteria or provision for food at work, the only places I can go without fearing food poisoning are really far, I don’t have a car, and this trip is just generally unproductive. For the most part, I’ve been eating Indomie (made in the microwave by some women at work) but can’t eat it any more because it’s messing with my body (blood pressure is through the roof, stomach is bloated, all sorts of rubbish).

So yeah, blood pressure is a bit problematic and now I have to cut salt/sodium from my diet. Recently discovered a no salt, no msg seasoning blend called Mrs Dash and I don’t know why things like this aren’t commonly found in Nigeria. I need easy, inexpensive access to good, healthy stuff! This coming week, I’m looking into easy, low sodium recipes I can make to take to work.

That’s it for now, cheers to the long weekend!

February 2015: Jumble

This month, I started work at my new job. I felt productive the first couple of days and some, and then things got old really quickly. I found there was quite a bit I didn’t know, and in fact, I think my boss knows that, so he’s been extremely patient. But still, I feel like a fish out of water. Some days, there’s quite a bit to do and that’s when I’m most productive. On the days when there’s only one thing to do though, I get sluggish. I feel guilty about the lethargy I feel, of course, but I wonder if there’s something else I can do to get over it? There are quite a number of balls I’m juggling at the moment, but my employer is paying me to work 8 hours a day, so it would be dishonest to use that time to do other things. Sigh. Also, I’m more productive at night, apparently, and this is very bad because it means I work late and wake up early, but I also can’t sleep during the day because what if my employer or colleagues need to reach me?

Speaking of balls, I got a new social media management client the other day, so yay – and bye bye to my carefree weekends 🙂 Another ball I’m juggling is this crowdshipping experiment, in which if you need to send something from A-B, you can post on the platform, and someone who is going from A-B will respond. It’s still in ‘Beta’, so it’s not yet an app or anything, and I need suggestions on how to make it better, please. I especially need advice for the ‘How it works’ section – it’s way too long, and I’m not sure how to make it shorter and easier to read. Flow charts, maybe? How to make colorful ones, does anyone know?

I’m moving house today. I had the misfortune of choosing to sublet from a flighty (or crazy? he calls himself crazy) person, and now he’s decided to move, so I have to move too. He knows how annoying this is, so he’s offered to help me move my stuff to Amsterdam, in a Fiat Punto. I have a lot of stuff so I think we might need 2 trips. On the plus side though, it’s good that I’m moving to Amsterdam because the closer I am to Schiphol when the time comes to leave, the better for me. I shudder to even think about the cost of a cab from The Hague to Schiphol. I still haven’t packed, or done the things I’m supposed to do…I really hate moving, and I reckon I’m going to move at least 2 more times after this before I’m finally settled. Gah. Also, need to buy new suitcases, because the poorly trained humans – and it’s only because of my manners that I call them humans – at Murtala Muhammed airport made certain to break at least one part of my suitcase for every single time I passed through in December (total number was 5, I think). Well done, everyone.

I have to go now. Take a shower, stuff suitcases, trash stuff (and this is the annoying bit – always having to trash stuff to make space. Nobody will buy my old stuff because nobody is a size XS like me!), go sell my old Toshiba laptop (which has ‘shown me pepper’) and ancient Harman/Kardon speakers {Side bar: my office sent money for a new laptop, and as an experimenter, I chose an Asus 13″ ultrabook. Core i7, 128Gb SSD, inbuilt Bang & Olufsen speakers, etc. I chose this, for science. I’ve had it for about 1.5 weeks and it’s been lovely so far}. I need a new, portable, bluetooth speaker. I can’t afford JBL because, broke. Please help? Do you know any good – but inexpensive – ones that can be gotten in Europe?

Meanwhile, I’m going to Luxembourg next weekend!!!

Okay that’s it from me. I will miss this apartment – it’s the best I’ve lived in so far, but I’m grateful for the memories.

A tout!

Update – February

I moved to my new city in the middle of February. Before I moved, not much happened: I showed the house to a prospective tenant, met with my thesis supervisor (who is super nice), bought dumbbells (time to get this body ready for summer), exchanged emails with a set of fitness consultants (this actually happened in January), started exercising (it’s time to get this body ready for summer). The day before I moved, I met with my supervisor and bought a bunch of novels to keep me company in my new city, then attended a TED talk at my university. I also had to make a few calls to car rental companies, because I had no plans of taking the train to my new city. Why? Because somehow, I had managed to accumulate 5 suitcases worth of stuff. I gave out one full suitcase of stuff, but it still wasn’t enough.

The day I was moving, a couple of friends came to pick me after renting a car. One of them had to bring over his huge, empty suitcase for me to pack my leftover stuff that couldn’t fit into anywhere. Sigh. Anyway, the journey took 1.5 hours. That’s another reason it would have been annoying for me to go by train: Going by train requires multiple platform changes and it takes 3 hours. First, we had to go drop off one suitcase at the charity/thrift shop, then we took off. Did I mention that the organization I’m interning with is giving me free accommodation at a hotel? Well we got to the hotel, I paid €45 deposit for the keys (good thing I had that amount in my bag, else I’d have had to go look for an ATM), then got a luggage trolley to take all my stuff up the stairs. One of my friends actually took a picture of all my luggage and posted on my Facebook wall 😦

Went out for lunch afterwards, with my friends. Then we took a walk along the waterside and took a few pictures, after which they dropped me off at my hotel and went home. Now I had to unpack by myself. I love to travel. I like having nice stuff. But I hate packing and unpacking. Gah. Now it was time for me to unpack though, and so I began to tackle it…for about 4 hours. I was actually taking little breaks here and there. I love my new room though, and I finally have my own toilet again – and it’s a normal WC!!*

My first 2 weeks at work have been pretty uneventful, I had to go round and meet everyone in my department, I got a safety training, started writing my literature review, etc. Nothing very interesting. I must say though, that before Friday, I had been a bit confused as to what exactly this company wants from me. But then I spoke with my boss on Friday (he’s been away since I arrived), and now I have a sense of direction, so my faffing days are over. I’ve also been fortunate to join a car pool that costs me just €8/month, as opposed to taking the bus and spending about €66/month on transport. So that’s very nice. I also have nice coworkers who invite me to go to lunch with them, and who kept checking on me during my first week, “just to make sure you’re okay”.

I think that’s about it. Oh I live with 17 other interns on my floor, and we share a kitchen. But guess what, the kitchen is always clean. Everyone always cleans up. Quite a sharp contrast to some places I’ve been. My life has become pretty much routine: Wake up, pray, work out, breakfast, go to work, lunch, come back, head straight to the fridge for juice, dinner soon after that, get a nightcap (hot chocolate and biscuits) at 20:30 sleep between 22:00-23:00. My body has even adjusted such that I start feeling hungry at 7:00, 12:00, and sleepy at 22:00. Interesting. I need to figure out a way to be productive at work though, because I feel so lethargic in the mornings. Maybe it has a little something to do with the weather. Speaking of the weather, it’s quite windy around these parts. I need summer to show up ASAP.

Meanwhile, countdown to Game of Thrones Season 4. Whoop!

*I wrote this post some time last year, talking about Dutch WCs.