Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Willkommen in Deutschland!

I’m more than aware that it’s been a while since the last entry, and I really seem to have settled into the groove of posting once every two weeks. Maybe that’s enough...I mean, Twitter is essentially a way of micro blogging and I’m there virtually every day. Here though, I can just gather all of my main thoughts and points and give things substance that just isn’t possible in 140 characters.

As you’ll have guessed from my title, I’m now living in Germany after I flew out on the 30th and I moved into the flat on the Friday after Len and Chris had finished packing up and caught their plane back to the UK. The flat itself is really nice, two bedrooms, a kitchen, a bathroom, a hallway and a balcony coming from the kitchen which overlooks the street. For anyone who wants to come over/up/down/across to Hamburg to pay a little visit to their favourite British export (that’s me...right?), then there’s even a spare bed in my room. I’m not too sure how comfortable it is since it currently has a guitar and some spare sheets/cushions strewn across it, but I’m sure it does the job.

The first few days were spent getting through all of the wonderful German bureaucracy such as spending a Friday morning sat at the Ortsamt. Admittedly, I did get a bit lost and walk past it about 4 times until I asked a friendly looking German for help who pointed across the road. I felt a bit stupid, but what’s new? Setting up a bank account was pretty straight forward too since the bank found someone who could speak English to do the process with me, just in case I couldn’t understand something. We got away with speaking at a moderate pace and discussing all things German and British, including some wonderful insights into the delights of the Hamburg winter...from the sounds of it, I am NOT properly prepared for that.

After a weekend to unpack my stuff, settle down in the flat, tidy up a bit and do a bit of exploring the local area, it was off to work on Monday morning. All I can remember from the morning is being shown around the office, meeting a variety of people, shaking a lot of hands and then being given loads of stuff to read. Turns out that for whatever reason, there wasn’t a computer at the desk where I’ll be sitting during my stint in Sales (I’ll move on in the world to attempt to understand Finance in a few weeks which should be interesting) so I was given plenty to read about the euroShell card, the application forms for getting a card and a raft of other things before eventually getting given my laptop at about 4pm, just in time to check it worked before going home.

Tuesday was the day I discovered the joys of IT help lines as I probably got to speak to every English-speaking member of the Shell IT help line, most of which seems to be in Malaysia apart from one friendly American guy who sorted everything out. For whatever reason, my smart card, which is used to log onto the computers, had decided it didn’t want to work so I was unable to access the system. Using other methods didn’t work, so I was sat at my desk for the entire morning...and a good chunk of the afternoon, before I could have access to the computer and actually start work.

The rest of the week wasn’t too amazing, just trying to get my head around the software that we use at work. Once you get your head around the system, it isn’t actually too complex but when you’re trying to figure it out for the first time and you’ve got everything being shown to you at lightning speed...and in German, it isn’t the easiest thing in the world. That’s what user guides are for though!

Again, my weekend wasn’t too exciting. I just caught up on sleep, relaxed, watched some motorsport and went wandering. It’s a bit strange...I’m used sleeping for about 6 hours a night anyway but getting up at 7am every morning seems enough to make all of the difference. By the time I clock off work, I’m ready for bed...which leaves very little energy for exploring, or making/eating food, or watching TV. I have, however, managed to get plenty of reading done in the last two weeks. After years and years of not reading them for whatever reason, I’ve polished off Mick Foley’s first two books as well as reading bits and pieces from George Carlin.

I did do some exploring on Sunday afternoon though and found myself in the Stadtpark which is maybe 15 minutes walk away. The actual walk up there was really nice as it goes alongside the canal for a while where people can rent boats (something that has shot right to the top of my list of things to do) and there are some ice cream parlours and whatnot. The park itself is HUGE and took me quite a while to walk around, but I managed to strike lucky as I heard the familiar sound of drums being played...so I followed my nose (or ears) and found a samba band called Bloco Alegria. A brief chat, an exchange of names and contact details and I’ve hopefully found myself a samba band to get involved with while I’m here!

In short, life is good and I’ve enjoyed my brief time in Germany to date...but it’ll only continue to get better! There are a lot of good things I’ve got planned between now and Christmas such as trips to Frankfurt for Steel Panther (ohhhh yes!), a wXw weekend, perhaps Spinal Tap Day in mid-November and then no doubt some sort of pre-Christmas trip before I come home in late December for a bit of time at home. There’ll be more things that will be slightly more spontaneous.

Whatever happens, I think it’s going to be a good year.

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