Wednesday, May 02, 2007

First Day Back at Work!

My first day on the job was great! I woke up at 3am (after passing out a 9pm) and remembered that I had not packed the right shoes for the outfit I planned to wear. I have not had a pedicure in two months so my toes are not worthy of wearing sandals! Lucikly, I had my ever faithful Dansko clogs. Not very pretty but comfy and toe covering. I caught the tram, got to the office, asked to speak to Mark and the receptionist said "Hey! You are the new employee! You don't need to wait for him. Here's your key card, I'll show you to your desk." I got there, everything was set up, I got a tutorial from the office assistant on how to log into everything.
At the morning meeting, Marc introduced me to everyone and told them to be nice to me and sit with me in the lunchroom since most of the departmental staff are out of the office for the month. then he gave me a very comprehensive overview of the organization's layout and design. He took me to lunch where we talked about Darfur and sat by the canal in the sunshine eating cheese sandwiches.

It was a FAR cry from my first day at Refugees International. When I got there, the receptionist made me sit in the hall for thirty minutes while she screamed at someone on the phone. They took me upstairs to my new office and noone had bothered to clean out the desk - there was even a dirty plate from someone's leftover lunch on the desk. I had no login into the system, the computer hardly work, and there was absolutely no orientation. I ended up inviting one of the people I barely knew to lunch just so I could hae someone to talk to. I had no work to do, nothing was prepared for me and then they sent me to Liberia a week later.

MSF wants me to go to Brussels for a meeting tomorrow so I'm off at the crack of dawn to take the train! How jet setter!

The only downside to moving here is the money situation. As you may remember, I lost my wallet the week before I moved here. After frantically dashing around to replace the cards and such, I've found some cracks in the system. I don't have a pin number for my new ATM card that is connected to my DC bank account. My electronic bank account won't connect to my South Carolina bank account (although I have a pin number and an ATM card for that). It also takes about a week for the money to transfer form the DC account to the electronic account. My South Carolina account has an ATM card and a pin number but they don't work in Europe.

Today I learned that I have to produce 450 euros for my residency permit (non reimbursable) tomorrow morning. And I have to pay for my train ticket to Brussels (no credit cards accepted) and wait to get reimbursed. I'm still waiting for them to reimburse me the $600 from my plane ticket. The $200 I changed upon arrival is now a 20 Euro note after buying a phone, some phone time, and going out to a shockingly expensive dinner with my friends on Saturday night (70 euros each!, I had no idea the place we were going was going to be so expensive. I ordered cheaply but that 'going dutch' thing will get you every time).

I have no idea how I'm going to get enough money for a deposit for an apartment. Oh yeah, they also pay once a month and because the woman who organizes the appointments with the tax office where they issue you a tax number (essential for opening a bank account), I may not get paid this month.

So that's my day. Wish me luck on the money front. Things will all pan out. At least they provide lunch for us every day at the office. I can definately lose weight this way. And its good for the spirit, dontcha know.

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