Posts Tagged ‘working’

It has taken time, but after months of trying I am finally finding my way around the office. My progress has been helped along by a French colleague who is now working in the London office. He is working on my project, and in addition to his project duties, he has become my unofficial guide to the French firm. Thanks to him I am learning the peculiarities of the expenses system, which restaurant has the best lunch on a given day, and most importantly, where the stationery cupboard is!

Stationery cupboard

After four months, I have finally managed to find the stationery cupboard

In the UK, we used to have large stationery cupboards on each floor, and you could basically go in and help yourself. Anything else could be ordered by your secretary.

There’s none of this self-service business in France. Instead, you have to turn up at a window on the 23rd floor where a little man disappears into the back and produces what you’ve asked for. Trouble is, as a non-French speaker, asking for things is a little tricky. Pointing is a lot easier. Still, I managed to do okay.

View of Paris from La Defense

The view of Paris from my office window

Summer is here and I’m enjoying having an office with a nice view – even if it isn’t quite as nice as the view from our London office, it’s still nice being up this high.


Matthew’s mood-o-meter

Well, after a few weeks in France, the novelty is beginning to wear off a little bit. We’ve had our fair share of problems settling in, both personally and professionally, that take off a little bit of the glow.

We’ve been struggling to get our phone line installed for several weeks, passed continuously between customer service and technical support, neither of whom are very helpful (and both of whom are accessed via a premium-rate number that costs 35 cents a minute to call). They’ve sent us all the equipment, but they’ve actually installed the line at our neighbours’ apartment and they insist there’s nothing they can do to reverse it.

We’ve tried explaining that our neighbour might be upset to discover that he no longer has phone service at his flat when he returns from his holidays. We’ve tried explaining that we’re not particularly happy paying for phone service when they’ve connected it to the wrong flat, but this doesn’t seem to be a problem in their books.

Things at work are complicated on both sides of the Channel. On the English side, they still haven’t managed to re-enable all my old UK accounts, nearly a month after my move to France. On the French side, they’ve managed to reject all of my moving expenses (which they’d previously agreed to pay) and told me that I will first be entitled to vacation in the middle of 2009. These are all misunderstandings that will be cleared up in the fullness of time, but it’s frustrating nevertheless.

Aided with Powerpoint presentations and visual aids, I think I finally managed to convey to my bank the problems with my internet banking arrangements (which seem to think that my personal account and joint account belong to two separate people, with the same name at the same address). My two previous in-person visits to resolve this issue have been unsuccessful, but I remain confident that my well-polished presentation today will get me over the hurdle.

I’m nearly convinced that I will be paid this month, but still not certain. It’s all an adventure.

Well, my plans for a nice weekend exploring Bangkok have more-or-less gone out the window… My client has asked me to work on Saturday to help him pull together a presentation, in Singapore. So what should have been a weekend exploring all that Bangkok has to offer is now a weekend working in Singapore. Boo!

This is the third weekend I’ve worked in the past month, which is rapidly growing old. On one hand, I’m earning loads of “time off in lieu” which I’ll be able to redeem in January when we’re planning the move to Paris, and I’m sure it will be invaluable then. Right now, thought, I’d just like the chance to have a couple days off and a chance to sleep in…

After a long flight home, I enjoyed a nice weekend in the UK. Highlights included watching England beat France in the rugby while surrounded by Frenchmen, having a traditional Sunday roast at the pub with friends, and some of the most glorious weather we’ve had in a long time. Lowlights included having to jumpstart my car (despite having recently replaced the battery – ugh!), seeing Sandro’s impression of a rugby player (post-ER), and spending most of the weekend in a jetlag-induced haze.

Today I’ve got to unpack and repack in time for my flight tomorrow. I’ve got ten days in Singapore then I’ll be back again to celebrate Aude’s birthday. She’s off to NY on business – we both arrive at Heathrow around 5am on Saturday morning. At least we’ll be jetlagged together, although our body clocks will be 12 hours apart…

Smiling once again...

Smiling once again…

I managed to survive my first day in Singapore, although falling asleep was a little tricky. Hopefully tonight will be easier, as lack of sleep meant that the day dragged on and on. I might treat myself to a hot shower, some room service, and an early night.

The project looks interesting, but there’s a ton of work to do and not much time to do it. My schedule is still firming up, but it looks like I will be out here in Asia for three weeks, returning to Europe the following week to spend some time in Switzerland and Turkey, but that’s all up in the air. It looks like it’s me, me, or me to do the work, as this client is reluctant to take on more junior consultants to do the grunt work. So it’s going to be a very long three weeks.

On a positive note, I finally met a client that I’ve been working with for the past six months. Until now, she’s simply been the voice at the end of a phone or e-mail waiting in my inbox, but I’ve finally managed to put a name to a face.

And on another positive note, I seem to have suffered no ill effects from dinner last night. Which is the biggest shock of all.

Happy Independence Day to all my family and friends in the US. To my British friends, sorry we had to kick your ass all those years ago, but let’s face it – you had it coming to you.

It’s been quite a while since my last blog entry, a testament to the fact that I’ve been very busy at work recently. It’s appraisal time, so on top of my already busy schedule I have to carve out time to write and deliver appraisals for my team. Which means that I suspect I may have worked even more hours than Jerome this week.

Congratulations, incidentally, to Jerome on his promotion to Associate. From now on, he gets to buy the drinks.

We’re off to France today for a long weekend – sadly, not relaxing, but rather taking care of the final details for the wedding. And in an ironic twist (or a testament to our phenomenally poor sense of planning), we’re going to be in France on the one day that the ‘Tour de France’ passes through Canterbury – it hasn’t been in the UK since 1994, and it will be the biggest event Canterbury has seen (or will see) for a long time. Daisy and Calypso will have ringside seats, however, and have promised to tell us all about it when we get back.