Saturday, September 11, 2010

Day 06-10: First week of work

Ok, I really cannot manage to write everyday, especially not as detailled and the way I want to form my phrases, but I'm trying to keep up, and everything interesting (or any thoughts that I feel deserve/need to be shared) will end up here eventually - but delayed at times, I'm afraid.

Okay, first day at work, time to put on business clothings. Beige slacks, brown leather shoes, bordeaux coloured slip-on with a mallow coloured shirt. And my glasses. I'm just writing that down to emphasise the thought I had given to my outfit - the reason for this will come in a jiffy...

As there was an horrendous but reasonable strike on the tube (major cuts in employees; replaced by machines), I got up an hour earlier just to make sure that I will make it on time - I really did as my route was not in any way affected at this time. So being an hour early, there was nothing to do for me than sitting down on a bench, nervously waiting while looking at the Thames and the palace of westminster.

High uncertainty avoidance, sometimes you just notice your own culture. ;)

So, when it was about time I went to the entry, saw that I had to go to the 9th floor and did so. The elavator is mighty fast, I still feel a bit sick each time I use it, but nevermind.
The door only opens by using a card (similar to some rooms at university), but I just slipped through.
For a moment, dressed up me was just staying there while everybody minded their own business, until a guy in jeans came by and asked whether he could help me.

New intern, uh hu. X? No, Y. Alright I'll get her.
Hi, I'm Y, this is A, B ,C (and so on), back there are some sales people and there some IT and Marketing guys. This will be your computer, sit here while it will be prepared. Meanwhile, you can read this please...

So much for the introduction. So I sat there and leaved through the big folder that was just given to me. Excited, confused and a bit disoriented maybe (where was I again? What was that name again? Who ist that?? so on) I did, withouth really getting what I was reading, something about how to use a program I never saw before (I will never really write in detail what I'm doing at work as I am forbidden by contract to do so). After a while I was handed over another pile of stapled papers - the ones I was actually going to need.

The dress code. I saw a guy with a hoodie, a girl with some pink bling bling clothes and a lotta washed out t-shirt. So much about that. 

Nevermind, work until now: People don't really speak to me so far. They are not avoiding me either, I say hello every morning and goodbye every evening and so do they. It was not until yesterday that anybody actually asked me what I was studying. Don't get me wrong, it seems to be a really nice, chatty, funny group - I'm just not really part of it. Well, I'm not expecting to be after one week - of course not - I'm just trying to write matter-of-factly how the situation is so far. There are the occasional two sentence conversations that lead to nowhere. One factor I completely underestimated and that still frustrates me endlessly is that I really have problems understanding the british accent(s)! How can I integrate myself into any conversation when I only understand half of it? It really isn't the language, it's the pronounciation.
I can understand my host fairly well, television even better (btw. I saw 5 minutes of EastEnders - the British Lindenstraße so to say - and it was the most ridiculous over top acting I ever saw. Some pub, Queen Victoria the name I think, burned down with explosions, flames and hyterical shrieking).
I haven't had problems understanding Americans for years now, it is just so different here. They speak fast, colloquial and with I don't know how many accents. They are not all from London, and even here it is almost like one can pick any borough and people there will have a different accent than in another one. It's all part of the process, I will learn and in only a view weeks, problem gone. Actually, I've improved already. Right when everybody left work yesterday, I was told that they go to a pub every Friday together (not everybody every Friday of course, but always somebody), so I went along spontaneously. Good Idea. Some people I knew, some people I saw, some people I never did before. For the first time I was asked what I was actually studying and there was more talking than during the whole week. Less than I wished from my side (hearing comprehension still in process, but increasing) but the night was fun and a step into the right direction. I was told I look like Jack Black haha, is that so? I kinda could not take that as a compliment (about 4 years ago, some girl said the :< ) Oh, I actually did not have to pay for my drinks the whole night (a guiness and two gin-tonics and I was embaressingly tipsy as the last time I had eaten was 10 in the morning and it was only a granola bar from pret.) as "she earns a lot more than me, darling", so my co-worker in her mid fourties - a really nice, cordial person. I appreciate the gesture, but I will make it up to her next week, I don't like to be kept.


Tuesday was HARD. As I said, I did not have any trouble getting to work on Monday, so I was so stupid to not really check how it is going to be the next day. Northern Line's running. Great I thought. Too bad that half of the stations were closed (which they only told you right before you reached them...), including mine. Alright, plan B. Wait until whatever-station-it-was, jump on the District Line to Westminster and walk - that is not too far away. You see the place from work. No biggie. Well it did not turn out. End of story, I had to walk all the way from Waterloo Station to Vauxhall which is not TOO long - only when it's early and you need to get to work on FRICKIN TIME ON YOUR SECOND DAY! I am actually proud of me that I was only 10 minutes late, if I had chosen the bus, I'd been there later. Trafficjam deluxe as everybody was freaking out due to the strike. I got home by overground. Works just as well, but I still don't like it for some reason.

Wednesday after work I finally met Katja! As I wasn't sure the strike would not affect Wednesday as well, we met at Westminster Station - right before Big Ben (I know it's the bell, but still sounds good). She lives in London for one and a half months now and still never got off the station there!!! So it was a good place to meet.

There was a little rainshower right before, but as the sun was shining again, we saw this: 

Double Rainbow! What does it mean? (get it)

After aimlessly (really) walking around for a while, looking for a place to get something to drink, we decided to go to Oxfort Circus (I had not been there so far this time in London). I had the longest run ever to get to the proper train on the tube ever ever! It can be a real maze down there.

Having arrived there, we went to one of those Bella Italias you can find from time to time (seems like half of the restaurants belong to some kind of franchise in LDN), with an unfriendly bitchy waitress that refused to bring us food outside while we watched another table having a feast (no tip for you Russian waitress - Katja noticed - with skanky clown make-up). Afterwards we took a stroll again around the area, saw the Liberty right at the Café,

a guy playing the keyboard while a blonde girl performed oral sex on a saxophone (it MUST have been her intention, I can't think anything else the way it looked), got some free fans at a Mango, and - the best of all of those - girls with a wig dancing to Don't Stop Believing at another clothing store.

I will try to upload the videos this night or tomorrow.

That was Wednesday. Thursday I had my first real panic attack ever in my life, but first the good part:
After work, I decided to go down to Brixton again and eat some good, warm meal after quite some time (remember the Döner incident, please). First I wanted to go to London town and have something Japanese, but I realised I was actually craving for something jerked. Still a bit careful after the Döner, I played it safe and went to the same restaurant I was with P before exactly one week prior. This time, I had Jerk Lamb with plantain along with some Guiness punch again. So, so GOOD! There was more marinade on the meat than on the chicken before, hence even more flavour. Look at it, it really does not look fancy, maybe even weird for some people because of the dark colour, but it is all about the FLAVAH. Next time I'll have goat maybe, who knows. The staff and friends/family/whatever who came in meanwhile gave me one of these slightly irritated but appreciating looks and one women asked whether the food was good (" daaarlin' "). Maybe because I came alone, maybe because I was the only person there or maybe because I am not Caribbean, who knows.

Now the horror. I mean, really. "Home", right before I was going to bed, I came up again after brushing my teeth and found this right next to my pillow (only still alive, of course).

See, I'm an arachnophobic, and I don't mean as in I'm disgusted/afraid by spiders (that would not be a phobia), I mean the real deal. I panic. Thank god the adrenalin let me keep my head clear, so I took the first book I could grab (sorry "Annotated Alice") and pressed it so hard on that MOFO until I heard it cracking THREE times. HUGE FUCKER, ON MY BED. NEXT TO MY PILLOW! HUGE FUCKER.  What followed was a nightmare of cold sweat, panickiness and paranoia, all while searching through the whole place pinnickly. My reaction had never been that bad. I don't mind small spider (anymore), even the big ones would not startle this much elsewhere, except in the bedroom. I cannot sleep in a room where I know there is any kind of spider, but THIS was way more than I could have handled. LOOK AT IT. That was bad. Really, really bad. But other people can't understand anyway. Cold sweat. whole body.

I said sorry to my host for all the noises, explaining her the reason and showed her that picture. "She would have shat herself". Soviel dazu. She gave me some spray.

Yesterday I came back from the pub with some Fish'n'Chips (last time I ate: 10 am, remember), where I was greeted by one of the same kind in the corridor, not that big than the one before but still. I sprayed the shit out of that thing I thought I'd get unconscious. There was another spray there so I used both simultaneiously.

Later, I did like she told me: sprayed the room, left it for ten minutes and came back. After 30 minutes I saw another one in my room again, only half the size, same kind. While I handled that one way better, falling asleep will still be hard for the next days or weeks. I really checked everywhere the night before, closed all windows and checked everytime I left the room, putting a scarf underneath the door. Still. Another. Bloody. Spider. I don't mind insects at ALL. Just spiders. Two nights to remember. Now it is Saturday and I spent half the day blogging and washing my clothes meanwhile. I'll leave now for the festival at the Thames today and tomorrow. I'll keep you informed. ;)))