Dec 21, 2011

First insights into Luxembourg (VII): Last day

Last day (administrative purposes)

The last day we had many things to do so we wake up very early in the morning (this time we were not the last ones at the hotel’s restaurant) and went directly "into the marathon".
  1. Bierger Centre to become resident, have my tax card & carte de séjour
  2. Bank, to open the bank account, sign the contract for the debit and credit cards.
  3. Spanish Embassy.

We must stop here. One thing that a person thinks when gets into his embassy is that he is in his homeland. YES THIS WAS THE CASE.

We entered the embassy, and there were 2 persons queuing before me and only one, the typical embittered old maid, to attend all of us.
a)  The first case was an American diplomat who was asking about whether using the diplomat passport for some reason… and the old maid kept telling him very loudly and without any reason / foundation: “no, don’t use it. I think there are more controls so use your normal one to travel to The States and don’t forget that the Spanish ambassador acts as a notary if he wants to”.
b)  The second one was a woman with her family who needed a couple of official stamps for her son. Then, the old maid loudly as well, basically called her stupid, uneducated and pushed them out of the embassy.
c)  I'm afraid I was the third one. The conversation as follows:
-  I come to register myself: I am a new resident
-  Do you think this is easy? Here it is: the list of documents you’ve to present. When you have them, come back.
I review the list and I had everything but I was not sure of one of the bullet points. I ask:
- What is this?
- I DON’T KNOW. Find yourself.
- But.. Where can I know what it is??
- No clue, ask at the Bierger Center.
- But in Madrid? Or in Luxembourg?
- I don’t know!!!  So.. you can leave.

Of course I have reported it to the Spanish Ministry of Foreign Affairs and I have the official complaint form to be presented as well at the embassy the first day off I have in Luxembourg.

Finally, we left the embassy running to catch the bus to Brussels airport, swearing at the embittered old maid because this behaviour was not acceptable, she shouldn’t work there and give that image of Spain and because due to this “stumble” in the planning I couldn’t vote in the next elections for Prime Minister more than 1 month later.

Anyway, we were received in Spain like heroes :O)

Cheers!!!!

First insights into Luxembourg (VI): Third day. Columbus Day - Día de la Hispanidad

Third day: October 12th (Día de la Hispanidad / Columbus day: one of the main Spanish national holidays) A great one, isn't it??.

The spirit of the third day was not the same. We had nothing to do, so we decided to have a walk through the districts: Bel-Air, Merl and walk towards the possible apartment in the evening.

We came across the 10.000th agency, and after seeing from the outside the flat, we came into the agency.

The owner had a very good appearance. He was very educated and passed us to a meeting room which had a Spanish wooden table, made with a single 1 piece of wood, and embossed leather chairs, typical from Spain as well.

I explained what I was looking for, and he showed us the pictures of the only apartment he had available.

Terrific!. Renovated, in the city centre, garage with a flat entrance, elevator, separated kitchen, huge living room, 2 bedrooms, cave,…. The sight was to the forest, the river and the lower city. Just AMAZING!. The problem: the price. It was out of my budget.

We went outside, and started thinking about it. For my mother was clear: “TAKE IT!!! NO MATTER THE PRICE, YOU HAVE YOUR SAVINGS AND IF NEEDED, I COULD HELP YOU A BIT!”. I was frozen. We called my father, my aunt and all agreed. “Take it: you’re spending a lot of time this year at home, you’re in Luxembourg to work, not on holidays and you need a decent place when arrive after work. A comfortable place!!”.

I was trembling: it was colder, I felt colder, I had not security because I did not exactly whether the standard of living in Luxembourg was so much higher than in Madrid or not. But finally we re-entered and took it.

It has been one of the craziest decisions I have ever made. Without seeing it!, apparently out of my budget!… I may have lost 3.000 kg due to my panic in that hour. By contrast, my mother was super-happy. I still was not sure and so much afraid and frozen. We went to McDonalds to “celebrate it” and later, prior to the appointment to visit the apartment and sign the contract, to the district and the house.

I was already relaxed when we reached the place and my mother started to say: “how beautiful!, what a district! Don’t you see the difference between this and what we saw yesterday?...” and suddenly A BIG NOISE totally abnormal was heard. It was frightening and really intense. Suddenly we look up, and there was a plane, flying that close to the ground that seemed to be landing at home!!!!

We looked at ourselves with the “Oh my God!” face and we said at the same time “OMG!!!”. Fortunately the following plane that flew over our heads was doing so at the normal distance from the ground and the noise was the normal one: the one that when you realize of it, you turn your head up and exclaim “look! A plane!”, so we calmed down.

I signed the contract off and I met the landlord, her daughter. I liked them, they liked me, we agreed… and I had a house!!!

We were smiling turning back to the centre. My mother went to the hotel and I met a friend of mine who is currently working in Luxembourg. We had a glass of white wine, one of my favourite Chardonnays, at Place d’Armes. It was a great day.

First insights into Luxembourg (V): Second day

Second day. (Don't miss it because it's a good one ;O) )

Following the breakfast routine imposed by the hotel :O), we woke up very early and went to the second meeting on foot.

It was rainy and cold, and we arrived so much in advance. The district was kind of nice but at the same time was getting worse & worse as we were approaching to the address and “my future neighbours” didn’t look that nice either.

In the meantime, Ms “Agency2” arrived and then showed us the two apartments.

Both were affordable but extremely dirty, one without garage, the toilet sink or the bath were cracked in both apartments… again we got a devastating image.

There was another flat in the same street that I had seen on internet and I liked very much but the agency seemed to be reluctant to show it to me all the times I called them from Spain. We stopped in front of the main door, just across the street and re-called the agency. She clearly stated that the owners (and probably herself) did not want to show it to me because as I did not speak French, I was not good enough for them.

No comments about my polite but strong and clear answer. You can imagine. Although during the conversation she revealed something that turned the flat into a “not that interesting one”, I felt frustrated and discriminated. (Well, I felt it because I was discriminated indeed).

The decision was made. The target: Cents (AND I AM NOT TALKING ABOUT MONEY). :O)

We kept walking to reach the main street and we found another agency. We got inside out of curiosity and an embittered Peruvian attended us.

“In Spain things are really bad, aren’t they?... Why do you come to Luxembourg?: the weather is horrible and we reach in winter -15°, -30° easily….”. To this point my mother stopped answering questions and educating this person: he was a lost case.

He wanted to show us after lunch a real hole that we had already dismissed on internet… in Cemetery Street. (I am afraid, this is not a joke…). ;O)

So, during his lunch time, we took a taxi to see the apartment in Cents from the outside (5 minutes ride cost nearly 40 €…), we called “Mr A” and his answer was “it has already been rented by somebody else this morning”.

OUR HEARTS SANK!: We passed from a lot of options to “maybe a hole at Cemetery Street”.

We started to call and enter all the agencies we were finding on the streets. I remember 3 good ones.

  1. The first one, was about to close for lunch. There was an Italian woman. I swear I never spoke Italian that well. What an accent! What a vocabulary! What a rhythm!
My mother stared at me astonished and the woman was really relaxed speaking in her mother tongue... and understood perfectly our needs BUT she had nothing available. At least, we got the first bit of sympathy from somebody in Luxi.
  1. The second one was with the most polite and wishful-to-help man we had ever seen.
The only problem is that he only spoke French and none of us spoke it, so we communicated in German.
It’s difficult to communicate in German when nobody speaks it, but we did it :P. He knew a bit and I started to remember the heading of one lesson to which I paid so much attention but did not fully understand at Goethe Institut, a looong time ago: DIE MIETE!
And both, speaking really slowly started talking about the only flat he had available. Names such as: das Wohnzimmer, die Miete.. Adjectives such as Frei and verbs like Zahlen came to my mind and we made an appointment (to be further confirmed with a colleague of his) for the next day.
It’s fantastic how much we could both improve our German skills in that conversation: we started just saying words but at the end of the conversation we were placing the verbs in the right pace as well as prepositions, adverbs, and articles. :O)
  1. The third one, which was the following morning, was with another Italian man who looked alike a gangster.
Si lei ha un contratto, allora c’è un appartamento, se no, non c’è and the apartment he showed us on his computer, apart from the fact that it did not appear on any map, (“Questo appartamento è vicinissimo!!. Ha un collegamento ottimo con il centro città!” and later on I discovered it was nearly in France…), had some… how to say it.. disadvantages. I’ll focus just on one of them: the toilet was ouside the apartment across the staircase of the building.But, according to his words: “Questo non è un problema per un uomo… magari per una donna!! Guardi, faccio un disegnino aprossimato di come è”…
No more comments. :O)

At the end of the evening a couple of young, polite, clean, handsome and super-tall guys showed us the last apartment of the day. Not good, not horrible. It was located in the first street parallel to the train railway. The entrance was “through a bar”, the parking was weird and had an elevator to place the car like in a bookcase “for cars”, but it was affordable, renovated and I could leave it when I wanted. (For the others I had to remain there minimum 2 or 3 years).

We said goodbye to them and went to the centre: we had nothing to do but waiting for the confirmation of the “wishful-to-help” man.

We did a bit of sightseeing, we went to the Cathedral, we prayed and lighted not a candle but a big one to Saint Anthony.

First insights into Luxembourg (IV): First day

This is my first day in the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg

The following morning, we woke up very early because, (apart from the fact that we had 3 appointments with the same agency to visit their corresponding flats, were going on foot and didn’t know how much time we would need to reach the agency), the breakfast was served UNTIL 8:30 on weekdays (9:00 in the weekend: thank goodness for those hosts who stayed in the weekend!).

We were on time and Mr “agency” was not. When he arrived, asked us to keep waiting and finally he offered us 3 flats.

None of them fully met the conditions I wanted but since it was the purpose of the visit in Luxi, we decided to visit all of them.

  1. The first one was within my budget bucket, dirty, small, the kitchen in the “hall & living room” space and located in a big road a bit outside the city.
  2. The second one was new and beautiful but expensive, outside the city and the covered parking had a very steep ramp down, which is something to bear in mind in a country where it normally snows a lot and you have to remove your “private snow” every morning to be able to move your car.
  3. Finally, the third one was in Cents (at least in the city)… a bit expensive, not new but clean and acceptable. The parking was ok.

We went to Mr Agency’s office and told him he would receive an answer within 24 h.

After that, a quick lunch (it was too late already for Luxi) while talking about the flats: the decision was between the 2nd and the 3rd, and it’d be provided the following day after our second round of appointments with another agency.

Later we went to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, for the citizenship and after queuing we were told that I would need a permanent residence (the lease contract) to get the citizenship and that we were at the wrong place…..

I thought it was not necessary because there is a clear distinction between the Luxembourgish people and the “non- nationals” and the company was accepting “living in a hotel” for a reasonable period of time as a residence.

It was not even tea time, and all people were running home after work. We were almost dead and decided to go to the hotel and just sleep.

First insights into Luxembourg (III): First arrival

If you have read the previous post, you may have relized of the fact that I decided to fly personally to Luxembourg to carry out all the stuff to be done.

Although my father was reluctant to it because “it could be done directly from Spain, it would be cheaper and it wouldn’t suppose any effort”… I decided to book a flight for me and my mum to spend four days in Luxi and try to complete as many things on the list as we could.

Then the super-tightest schedule I had ever had started to run: the last day of my previous job, which was Friday, when I left the office, I ran to the station and took a train 500 km far away to assist to the wedding of my friend, I arrived in the night, we had a drink together, I attended the wedding the whole Saturday until 4-5 a.m., and on Sunday, I was in the first train back to Madrid to pick up the suitcases, my mother, the plane to Frankfurt and the bus to Luxi.

We arrived at 2:00 a.m. in Luxembourg.

Nobody on the streets.

15 degrees celsius less than in Madrid.

Darkness….

The only lights came from several strip clubs on both sides of the street, while arriving at the hotel…

We arrived at the hotel, which was closed, and I opened the door with the pin code provided because there was no concierge at that time. The keys were in an envelope on the concierge’s desk.

Il a été dévastateur

First insights into Luxembourg (II): What to do first

Let me remind you that, normally, when one is carrying out a selection process, at the same time “has a life in progress”…

What I want to mean is that I had booked some holidays at the office (indeed I had a non-reimbursable plane ticket to visit Mexico for 10 days); I had a wedding of a friend of mine who, in addition to this, has been a colleague in the two companies I have worked for in Spain after being an intern; and, as a popular low cost Irish flying company would say during its advertisements, “and many more”.

So I started immediately to extend my “tentacles” to get to know how to start, where, when, and I contacted a couple of persons who were living in Luxi.

I got their advices and built up a list of the main things to be done or, at least, to be asked within less than one month:
  • resigning in my current employ,
  • renting a flat in Luxi,
  • opening a bank account,
  • inscription in the Spanish Embassy,
  • European Health Insurance Card,
  • inscription as a citizen,
  • electric power supply,
  • water supply,
  • telephone,
  • internet,
  • finishing the current telephone contract,
  • finding a moving company,
  • buying winter clothes,
  • listing the personal stuff that I wanted to take with me…
  • “and many more”.

Then, suddenly, I started being “a bit stressed”. How come! :O)

Starting with my list and being a gentleman with my bosses, I resigned in the best moment for the company instead of when it was more convenient for me, because I believe in some principles that lead me to be honest and not take advantage of any situation that leaves other persons / enterprises in a bad condition.

I must add that, in the end, they did not share “my code of ethics” which was as well the company’s one (in theory), and they misbehaved.

During my notice period I started gathering all the documents I would need to present in order to carry out in just one time all the stuff on the list. I am a very precise person and, to give you an idea of how I could be, I propose you in that the meantime watch this video, in which I would be the “blondie girl”. I’m sorry but the video audio is in Spanish. At least, this has English subtitles. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mzBR689Vnm0

:O)

At the same time I visited all the websites and called all the real estate agencies in the world to find an apartment in Luxi. I did not know that only few apartments were available (according to my budget) and that the rotation index of them was that high: the ones that were available in the morning were not anymore in the evening, and so on. So, in Luxi, nobody can assure the availability of any apartment for more than a couple of days.

First insights into Luxembourg (I): Reactions

Reactions

I have to say that I expected a more supportive behavior from all my closest.

I could classify the reactions in this way:
  1. “Why? The weather there is horrible. Don’t do that!”
  2. “If it’s not convenient, don’t do it”
  3. “Well, I think that due to your current circumstances, it can be the right moment for you to do it”
  4. “Oh my God! You got it! When can I go there and visit you!!!”

And most of the reactions can be categorized among the three first ones.

I was really scared and motivated at the same time. This would suppose: leaving my parent’s and be independent, change job, change language, change country and move, all at the same time.

So I resigned my previous job and the run started.

Nov 30, 2011

Selection process


Dear all,

this “little adventure”, began with a phone call… a phone call from a wonderful headhunter who has opened for me the door of the universe.

After the phone call, suddenly, I was involved in an express selection process for a big enterprise in Luxembourg.

All the process was covered within two weeks. I had seven official interviews plus a ton of phone calls from the HR department which lead to the fact that almost every day I was interviewed more than once.
My record: four key interviews in a row at 15h, 16h, 17h and 18h, each one with a “big cheese”.

For those who haven’t realize of it, I must tell you, guys, that it’s very tiring and difficult speaking on the phone in a language different from your own mother tongue and answering picky technical questions for more than four – non-stop – hours.

It is not tough just due to the subject of the conversation or to the “castle” of illusions and expectations that appear in front of yourself, but due to the panic that you feel wondering whether the phone will have enough battery charge, whether the call quality will be good enough for you to hear and understand everything or whether the call will just drop.

So, to reach a lower degree of panic, avoid losing four pounds weight during each interview and not be frozen at the end of each interview, I must confess that since almost all the interviews were on the phone, I passed nearly all of them in bed under the blanket. It was the most comfortable place, with a good network connection, not too noisy and I could be plugged to the electric power!!!. :O) I highly recommend all of you that if you have the opportunity, be interviewed in bed :O).

Of course there were worse places than my bed where I was catched up to be interviewed (without prior notice) such as the bus, the waiting room of the doctor, underground or just while driving.

It is very funny because in the meantime I thought they were not interested in my application anymore due to a misunderstanding: it was suggested that I had to fly to Luxembourg (hereinafter “Luxi”) for the final interviews but after that suggestion, (nobody knows how it came up), a person from HR thought that had personal interest in going on a trip for the weekend to Luxi and take advantage of the enterprise allowance for me to be interviewed there. In the end, after many calls to figure out what was passing by the mind of this person and another thousand calls to explain that what this person was imagining, only happened in his / her mind… we finally decided to strike out for the last row of interviews on Skype.
                                                                                                                                      
This time I was wondering whether I should wear a complete suit or just the jacket and no pants. What was clear, for sure, was the location: the kitchen. It was the best place I found at home to “prepare” a proper decoration: blank background, good light, no hanging objects (so nothing that could lead to infer, without any foundation, anything wrong from me), and that’s what I did, and I succeeded!.

By the way… I was wearing pants!

Cheers!

Nov 20, 2011

Purpose

Dear all,

I am starting a new life. This is the second time I move abroad, and I hope it is as successful as the previous one.
 
The idea of posting the remarkable events that happen to me on a blog is something that has pursued me from the very first time I knew I was moving: during my previous stay abroad I just sent periodically some funny e-mails to my friends and family. However, this time, the blog is already a fact and it, as my past "recurrent mailing" aims at sharing with all of you my impressions and feelings from my new "day to day".

Since I always keep the "funny version" of everything, I will try to write it down here all for your entertainment.

My best regards for everybody