Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Quickish Update:

It's been just a bit more than a week since I've arrived, and I'm settling in slowly but surely.  The first few days were definitely tiring and a little disturbing between fighting jetlag, going to a crazy-amazing party in the Netherlands the same weekend I arrived, recovering from said party, and trying to process primary administrative stuff, like registering my address, all while dealing with pretty full on French immersion.  Administration in Belgium is fun.  Job number 1 for me was to go to city hall within 8 days of arriving to register my address.  Here this involves sitting down with someone who takes a LOT of information from you aside from your address (nevermind that to get into this country you've already jumped through a million administrative hoops.)  Funny thing about that... I realized sitting in front of this French-only guy, in this French-only place, that the letter I have explaining the qualifications and the program under which my visa was issued is in ENGLISH.  haha.  The letter even says I should keep it with me at all times in case I need to explain to someone why I'm here or the particulars of my visa.  Very useful, considering it's in a language hardly anyone I've met yet here understands.  : /  I have to email the consulate in Montreal and ask them to send me a French version.

After speaking with French-only guy and having him attach my id photos to my documents, guy tells me it could take up to 2 MONTHS for a policeman to come visit my house to make sure I live here.  After that I'll be mailed a letter with an appointment date and time to come back to see same French-only guy, so I can have my ID card, and (finally) officially have an address.  Here, an address is needed to get a bank account, and a job, and so on, and I hadn't counted on having to wait for several months before being allowed to work, particularly not since I'm here on a *working* holiday visa.

Thankfully we know someone who was able to put in a call to our local police department, which helped to speed the process along I think, as the policeman has already stopped by.  So now I have to wait for a letter from city hall so I'll know when my appointment is to go and see about having an address, in the official sense.  Hooray for administrative process the world-over!  :p


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As for the language, my ears become a little sharper every day and I'm understanding and using more of it.  Some people speak very clearly, and others...well let's just say a lack of enunciation and proper emphasis isn't solely a problem that occurs with speakers of English!  I'm told that my use of grammar has been good, but I am one of my own toughest critics, so I feel I have light-years to go.  But I kind of always feel that way in a sense, and I suppose that's what keeps me learning and pushing myself.  Mind you, when I'm dealing with everything else all at once, it's tiring, being that way.

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I have stepped on a few toes here already.  Twice in the past week I have been offered chocolate, and after my (wonderfully sensitive) boyfriend felt compelled to jump in and tell whomever it was that "she doesn't like brand X" for some reason I have yet to figure out... I've had to explain to the fallen faces of our hosts that it's not that I *DON'T* like it... it's just that I work with chocolate and I think there are finer brands than this one.  At first this was more of a polite explanation, as I had little experience in fact with brand X's products, but I have to say after trying several brand X products, that I think it's true...I don't like it.  It's not a definite judgement yet, but it's pretty close to being definite.  Hopefully they've got some high-end stuff tucked away somewhere that I don't know about yet.

But you know what?  If someone told me they didn't like Labatt Blue or Molson Canadian, my national pride wouldn't be hurt at all because I'd know that my country brews a myriad of beers that are *WAY* better than these two, though they are two of Canadas most "popular" beers.  What can I say, my tastebuds are a little snobby.

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My least favourite tidbit: Two days before leaving Toronto, I saw my doctor for my annual physical.  I had been experiencing a strange pain in my right shoulder for a few weeks prior.  Turns out I have tendonitis in my rotator-cuff.  I was told that I should rest the shoulder for 3 months, do physio for the supporting muscles, and to avoid working in a KITCHEN during this time.  Dum dum dummmmm   :o  Hearing that from a medical professional seriously sucked, and having to be careful with my DOMINANT ARM...the one I use for ALMOST EVERYTHING is definitely a drag.  And it's really thrown me a curveball in the way of strategies for finding work here too.  But we'll see how it goes, since I'm forced into waiting about on paper here at any rate.

I've seen some interesting corporate things while peeping out the job market here a little, though I really had little desire to return to an office environment.  There are some non-profit organizations here that it might be interesting to do something with, and of course there is also *ugh* retail.  I just have to be good with my shoulder until it's better, and then after that I just have to be smarter with it.  I'm hoping that if I can't use my arm for now in a kitchen, that instead I can use my English to score something interesting.  The job market here is a little freaky though.  There are a ton of people losing jobs in Belgium for the moment, thanks to "la crise" (the current global financial turmoil.)  This means far more people than normal are seeking jobs for the moment, and I'll have to figure out a way to be competitive.

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Chitika