My 2014 In Review

TL;DR: First half of my year was fine and fun, second half wasn’t very fine.

January-February: Got back to NL from the UK, spent time with an old school friend who I hadn’t seen in years and who lived in Amsterdam. Tried to find an internship and really was beginning to panic because my lease was expiring and I needed to find an internship so as to know where next to move. That didn’t work out, and I signed another 1-year lease and then started an internship in a different city (with free accommodation), 2 weeks later. Shout out to the friends who agreed to help me move (it was a 1.5 hour drive) when it turned out I was too broke to afford professional movers or a taxi, and had way too much stuff to just take the train. So, yay internship, but what about the house I rented? I had to sublet it so that went okay. Got broke, and then not-broke. Settled into my new life in the town-in-the-middle-of-nowhere where my internship company was located, sorted out carpooling to and from work, got a new computer, etc.

March-April: My Master’s program required me to do an internship while writing my thesis, ergo, I was writing my thesis at this point. I set a plan and everything, but the project I was handling was such that I wouldn’t be able to write a traditional qualitative or quantitative thesis. Also, the literature review was not going very well. I decided to be ‘AGILE’ – as opposed to waterfall – about the whole thing and was writing various parts of the thesis at the same time, and designing what I was supposed to be designing too. I took a Lean Six Sigma course – because that’s required for all employees of my company – and passed. I also learned, painfully, how to ride a bicycle. I think I already explained why I had to in another post, but basically, it was because the company is on a very large site (and ‘houses’ 2200 employees) and my office is 15 minutes on foot from the main gate, same for many others, so the company has lots of bikes for employees who may have cars but want to move around the site, and for people like me. Anyway, I learned how to ride a bike. I made friends with a very nice Spanish girl and her boyfriend, and she helped me. She’d go out of her way to come to my office the first couple of times, to ride behind me and make sure nothing happened till we got to the gate. Same for when I was going from the gate to my office (and this was possible because we carpooled together). I went to the UK too to see the boyfriend and for a 4-day break from all the nonsense. While on this break, I didn’t check my university emails and as a result, missed out on a job opportunity. Welp. I was still wearing a jacket at this point and wondering why it was still this cold in spring.

May-June: Thesis and project were going well with a few hiccups here and there, and I have to mention here that I think my thesis went as well as it did because I had the best set of supervisors, at work and in school. I’d have been so lucky if I had them while writing my Bachelor’s thesis, but let’s not even speak about that. I had to learn and practise Change Management here too. I started a social media management side-gig with a friend. Then there was my birthday, during which Spanish friend and boyfriend and Colombian friend (all working in my company of course, and now I wonder, really, if any of us young foreigners ever made friends with any one who lived in that town but didn’t work in our company…) made us Spanish omelettes and mojitos. It was summer (and I know this because I was able to wear short shorts) and we’d had a party of sorts the day before, organized by the company ‘country club’. Fun. I had begun to feel old by my birthday, but meh. (Really though. The years are just flying by, and what am I doing with my life?) I submitted my thesis in time (special shoutout to the boyfriend for helping out), had to rewrite some parts, defended and (shot myself in the foot but) got a good grade. The World Cup started in June, and we interns (all lived on the same floor in a hotel and) used to gather in the living room to watch, we’d make a mini party of it, with food and drinks.

July-August: Internship ended, began the search for a new apartment in another city, and I failed the second stage of an interview. I moved to another city, and loved it. How I chose this city? The mental equivalent of spinning a globe and things…only, I was a bit more ‘strategic’. Anyway, I moved, and then the house I moved to was quite rubbish. Falling apart. Unfit for habitation. (And people actually live there. No, I was not able to see detailed pictures before I moved.) So I moved again, after 2 or 3 days, and was quite lucky to find a much better apartment for the same price as the rubbish one. I went to France for my graduation and, when I think of all the rubbish that has constituted the second half of my year, I think back to my time in France and I regain some measure of peace, and happiness. The south of France is quite lovely (year-round, but especially) in the summer, and that, combined with good company, is the stuff that nice holidays are made of. It’s also funny that I didn’t appreciate it that much when I lived there.

September – November: Sorted my residence permit (because once you graduate, your reason for being in the country changes from ‘student’ to either ’employed’ or ‘looking for employment’), but first, had to sort out insurance (Nigerian one expired, and it is illegal to live in NL without insurance, among others) and move because of registration issues with the city hall. So in essence, I have lived in 5 houses this year. Wonderful. Kept getting bounced after interviews and stuff, for no discernible reason. I say ‘no discernible reason’ because my CV is quite solid (I’ve heard, many times), and I’m not terrible at interviews, if I do say so myself. Got another gig in social media management – which can’t pay the bills, but can buy groceries. Finally got a job in client support which I don’t like for shitty pay (but it paid the bills and I was grateful for that and for the opportunity to learn other stuff like account management). {Side bar: the reason I went for an MSc in what I got an MSc in, was because I’d tried the tech support/network admin shebang and found that I didn’t like it.} I got bounced from work after the probation period because I was ‘doing an excellent job but wasn’t integrating’. I never spoke with the person who fired me, so I didn’t get the chance to ask for an explanation. I was fired by proxy. Heh. Why I wanted an explanation? Because, while I always, always blame myself when things go wrong, I couldn’t find any way to blame myself for this one. So I was quite shocked, etc. Well then. Got betrayed. A bit broke. Etc. I got an instant camera, because I wanted one, and because it’s a nice thing that gets people excited, such that you forget your own struggles for a bit. I remembered, somewhere in all of this, that 2 years ago, I decided I wanted to become a Product Manager (for digital products like Gmail and Skype, rather than physical ones like Ariel or other FMCGs). But school and ‘the cares of this world’ made me forget that. I still want to be one, so I have taken (and am taking) courses to put me on that path. Also, I’m practising product management on someone’s yet-to-launch product, and I’m looking to practise all I can, for the experience.

December: Came to Nigeria, for a break of sorts. I’m still here, and it’s been nice to see people and eat food and all that jazz, but my mind is still quite troubled, and I’ve been a bit prickly. This has been my worst year so far. I’m grateful though, for family and friendship and kind words, thoughtful gifts, help, advice, and prayers on my behalf. I’m grateful for the lovely people who have chosen to love me even when I’m being prickly and rejecting offers of help. I’m grateful for the parents who have enough to help me if I’m ever homeless or something (God forbid though. The purpose of all the tuition money that has been spent on my head is not so that I can still be asking parents for money at age 25). I’m grateful for the opportunity to be a blessing to people. I’m grateful for the good things that have happened to my friends and family. I’m grateful for all the flatmates I’ve had this year, to whom I owe many interesting memories. I’m grateful for museums and music, books and instant cameras. I’m learning to think positive thoughts but that requires discipline. I’ve learned that I need to develop people-skills, because my normal self does not go out of her way to, for example, say more than just ‘hello’ to near-strangers. I’ve learned persistence, and to find joy in the little things. I’ve practised compromise. I’ve stopped being naive, I think. I’m going back to NL in a couple of days and I don’t know what’s going to be different, but we’ll see.

In summary, I’m not very happy right now, haven’t been for a while, but I’m very grateful. It could have been much worse, I think. I’ve coped by dancing, exercising (yay year-round summer body), by asking myself things like “are you the furst?” and “but did you die?”; I’m also hopeful because that’s probably all I have left. Hope that efforts being made will pay off, and things will get better. So here’s to 2015. May the odds be ever in our favour, and may the lines be arranged for us in pleasant places.

Happy Holidays (or what’s left of it)!

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Week 2

Sunday: In the evening, I go with some friends to a hotel nearby, to use the gym, sauna and pool. We end up not being able to use the gym, but we spend almost all our time in the pools. There are quite a number of pools, including a warm spring, a couple of playing pools, an outdoor pool, and a regular pool. They’re all heated, but the regular pool is a bit colder than I would like. The sauna, hmm. It is my first time of being in one (even though there’s one in my building). I find it quite odd, sitting stark naked with other human beings in a dark, steamy room. Eww. To put my mind at ease, I take more than one towel, and cover myself with it while in the sauna.

Monday: I’m supposed to have a Business Negotiation class today, but when I get there, I discover a couple of things. One of them is that we were supposed to register for our courses in December, but no one told us, so we didn’t. The second thing is that this class is now full, and since we did not know anything about registration, we aren’t even on the waiting list. That explained, the teacher kindly kicks us out of the class. He’s a really nice guy, honestly.

Tuesday: Have I mentioned how much I love having lunch at school these days? I have French class in the evening, and to my surprise, it is very unlike the French classes I used to have back in France. No spoon-feeding whatsoever here, we are all treated as if we already know and speak French fairly fluently. Good for the ones who do, not good for me 😦

Wednesday: I have a class at 8.00 am today, but I wake up at 8.08 am. Horrified, I jump up from my bed while trying to decide whether to miss the class or make a run for it. I decide it wouldn’t do to miss the class, but I am quite reluctant to walk into a class 1 hour after it has begun. For some reason though, the class doesn’t start until I get in at 8.48 am, thank God! There’s a party later tonight, but before that, a pub crawling event. This pub crawl is organized by an international student body, and we’re supposed to take a map and visit, in groups of 4 or 5, the different pubs on the map. At each pub, representatives from the student body would be waiting for us, and they would give us some tasks to do, which would earn us points if completed properly. These tasks range from identifying body parts in Finnish (note that none of us speaks a word of Finnish) to acting out a Finnish drama. Quite interesting, to be honest. In addition to the 6 pubs on our list, the boys want to visit one more because they have cheap beer. I try to see if I can order some food at this place, but their prices are outrageous, perhaps to compensate for the fact that their beer is so cheap. Ah well, I settle for a burger from Hesburger afterwards. I go too early for the party, and I don’t enjoy it at all. I will never go too early for a party again. If it is not convenient to go late, then I won’t go at all. To make matters worse, I find that I have forgotten my ticket/invitation at home, so I have to pay to enter. Ugh. I have a class tomorrow though, so I have to leave early…

Thursday: On my way to class, after I have walked all the way from my house, right in front of my school, I slip and fall on the ice, and thankfully, only my butt is hurt. This is less embarrassing than I thought it would be, but that’s probably because the sky is still dark, oh well…I have classes from 8.00 am to 6.00 pm. Being that I did not sleep early last night, I doze through all my classes. Smh. I have to take 2 elective courses, or 12 credits, to bring my total number of credits this semester to 30. I am quite indecisive about which 2 to take, but I decide to attend a course called Information Systems Research on Games. I have no idea whether or not this course is interesting, because I was feeling too sleepy. I suppose it ought to be though, but I was too tired to appreciate anything. For this course, there is no exam, but we’re required to keep a learning journal, about 5-10 pages for each class, and 3 articles (relevant to what has been learned for the day,) attached. I have no idea what I’m supposed to have learned in one class that would span even 2 pages, not to talk of 5 or even worse, 10. This is interesting.

Friday: About that Business Negotiations class, the management created a new group for us, so we can take the course, and the people on the waiting list can also get in. Yay us,we’re heroes 😛 Anyway, the class is really nice, I like. Here, we are also required to keep a reflective journal for each class, which would be made into a 10-15 page essay at the end of the course. That’s easy. After class, we decide to go to the art museum, because it is free on Friday afternoons, but the free entry only starts at 4.00 pm. I cannot go home and decide to sleep before then, because I would be too lazy to come out after. We decide to go to the city centre and faff about for a bit, and in the process, we make a number of discoveries, one of which is an african store! whoop! I actually count 3 of them in the same complex. After gazing like proper intellectuals at the paintings in the museum, we go downstairs to the shop where they sell all sorts of knick knacks, and while my friends are buying postcards for their friends and families, I buy a music box 🙂

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That’s the museum…

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…and my music box 🙂

Back From Roma

I hope everyone is having a lovely holiday period. Sorry these posts haven’t been regular.

So, I got back from Rome on Thursday, and I’ve been busy with different things since then, which is why I couldn’t upload a post yesterday. Today’s post however, will comprise the rest of the pictures that haven’t been posted. Enjoy!
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Will the real Santa please stand out?

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Err, this picture was chosen by mistake (extremely sensitive phone screen), but I’ll let it stay. My little sister sent that, I think she wants shoes like that.

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Ponte Sant’Angelo

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Ponte Sant’Angelo again, and the Castel Sant’Angelo right ahead.

A brief history of this building:
The emperor Hadrian originally built this as a mausoleum for himself and his family, and after a while, it was converted to a fortress for the Pope. This was done by building a fortified, covered corridor between the castle and St Peter’s Basilica, to enable the Pope escape unseen, during a siege. Also, being that it was a military fortress, there are holes in the walls for soldiers monitoring any advance(s) to the castle. Burning oil could be poured on attackers from these holes, and if they had rifles back then, they could shoot too. Of course, for this purpose, the mausoleum had to be adequately remodeled.
This place was also used as a prison from time to time, and executions were also carried out there.
About the angel statue at the top of the castle, legend has it that there was a bubonic plague in 590 A.D., and as the pope was leading a procession to pray, he saw a vision of the Angel Michael atop the mausoleum, sheathing his sword and symbolizing that the plague was over.
These days though, the castle is a museum.

To read more, visit https://www.google.fr/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=1&cad=rja&sqi=2&ved=0CC8QFjAA&url=http%3A%2F%2Fen.wikipedia.org%2Fwiki%2FCastel_Sant’Angelo&ei=EcDgUJ7UCu7M0AWOi4GQDw&usg=AFQjCNFZJDtP0pcrKqcTpTBacG1BThu_0A&sig2=MZ2-ZwiwITyJQ0xz3rfKkA&bvm=bv.1355534169,d.d2k and http://www.italyguides.it/us/roma/castle_st_angelo/castel_st_angelo.htm

I had to get an audio guide at the place where I paid for museum tickets, and there were about 36 stops in all. Took me about 3 hours to finish everything. Totally exhausting!
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View of the river Tiber from the top of the castle.

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That’s saint Peter’s Basilica in the background

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The statue I talked about

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The last two pictures above are the holes in the walls I talked about earlier.

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Basilica Papale di Santa Maria Maggiore

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Again..

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I think this is a Skechers shop, but the display reminds me of Bata, back in the days.

Next up, Spanish Steps. I hope I don’t get too overwhelmed, such that I can’t upload before the new year. However, in case I do get overwhelmed, Happy New Year in advance!

Exams, Vacation

I mistakenly deleted the post I had published before, but luckily I had an almost complete backup. Can’t remember what is missing.

Monday: Financial Accounting exam. It wasn’t fine, and it is not because I didn’t know what to write. Afterwards, I had a Finance class, during which we heard that we ought to submit tomorrow, a project which we hadn’t heard about up until now, and that we will have an exam. On the morrow also. Highlight of the day was when 2 of my program coordinators took us for lunch at a proper tiny restaurant. Restored my faith in French cuisine…I still want to taste bouillabaise though.

Tuesday: Finance class, and the presentation. The awesome part of this is the fact that the guy talked a lot, and for so long, that there was no time to write the exam anymore, all we had time for was the presentation. Maybe he was only trying to be nice though, but just to ensure we didn’t write that exam, I filled up the rest of the time by posing useless questions x_x Had a pizza and drinks dinner with friends, it’s nice to do these things before everyone leaves for the holidays, because you may never see some of them again.

Wednesday: Final class in IAE, in the evening. It’s my French class, and we all have to make a presentation of/on our stay in France, including where we went and couldn’t go, what we liked or didn’t like, etc. Before that however, I have cups of vin chaud with a few classmates, while we discuss the weather and stuff (I sound very grown-up, no?) I’m gonna miss this school though, and the town. *sniff*

Thursday: So, today we travel. Whoop! I hate to pack, so I always leave it till the last minute, as I have done today (how I manage to never forget anything is amazing). Had to stay up late last night, scouting hostel sites for where to stay. Found somewhere about 3 weeks ago, but discovered over the weekend, that something isn’t or wasn’t quite right. Had to start searching all over again. Anyway, I found, and paid the deposit. Weather forecast says it ought to drizzle today, and seeing as I hate wetness, this is not good news for me. Rain in December? Your mates have turned to ice elsewhere fa. About my flight, it got delayed by about an hour, which was worrisome because my destination is not a familiar place for me, so I wanted to arrive in daylight and everything. Sadly, this was not to be. My flight was fine though, thank God for safety. The manager of the place where we’ll be staying already gave us directions over the phone and via email, so it wasn’t actually so difficult to get to the place. However, one thing that struck me is how similar this place is, to Nigeria. As I got to the city center to catch the bus to my hostel, a taxi driver came up to meet us, several in fact. “taxi? Taxi?” (very different from the well cultured and sometimes snobbish people of the town in France where I like) I asked him how much the taxi would cost, he said 25€. Note that the place is like 5 minutes away oh, but I didn’t know that at the time. Anyway, I told him thanks, and asked where I could take the bus, and he said ah, that the buses and trains are on strike, and that even if they were working, the buses are too wide to enter the street I’m going to. LOL! Say what now? Abeg I’m Nigerian, I’ve heard stuff like this before. My friend and I thanked him and told him we wanted to get maps from inside, and we left. On the way to catch the bus, I saw many people selling stuff (ranging from hand bags to adaptors) by lamp light, a la the streets of Lagos. Also rows of ’boutiques’, a la Balogun market, and many streets in Lagos. People here are total hustlers mehn. I’m in Italy, by the way. As averse as I am to using shared bathrooms, this bathroom is actually clean, yayy!! Also, breakfast is included in my ‘rent’, another yayy! (yes, I know I’m being silly)

Friday: Rainy. Ugh. This doesn’t mean I stay indoors though. My friend and I wander around the Colloseum, the nearby museum and church. There’s so much to see and learn. For lunch, we enter a restaurant, and order lasagna, and tap water. They make us pay 3€ for the water! I’m too stunned, because this doesn’t happen anywhere else in the world. On top tap water? You shan’t see me again. Too shabby.

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