Sunday, December 9, 2007

One month since leaving Canada

Today is the 9th of December which is exactly one month to the day since I left Canada. It has been a very busy time with a lot of changes and new experiences. I have a couple of hours off this morning for Sunday routine so I'll take this opportunity to reflect.

The first six days were taken up with traveling and briefings. These did not accomplish much except to get me to my destination so that I could begin working at my job. The remaining three weeks have been taken up with work related tasks.

The largest adjustment has been orienting myself to this new location. Driving has been the biggest challenge so far. The roads are chaos and are in very poor condition. Driving standards are non-existent. Obstacles on the road consist of vehicles, bicycles, people with pushcarts, pedestrians (including small children) and obstacles such as bricks and piles of dirt randomly dumped on the road. The only things that never go on the roads are the stray animals - I guess the dumb animals have all been run over and the remainder stay clear of the pavement.

My living conditions are better than I expected. I have my own room which is a novelty. On all my prior trips I had to share a room. There is a bathroom dedicated solely to women, again a novelty. Usually we are assigned timeslots in a common washroom. There is internet and we have both Candian and British TV and radio to listen to. Food is plentiful and there is enough variety to eat healthy meals if we choose. There is also plenty of junk food for those who need some emotional comfort.

Prior to the trip I was concerned about the language barrier among my colleagues. In practice the francophones speak enough english so that we can communicate and they are willing to include the english people in their conversations. I have also made an effort to speak my few remaining phrases of french and they don't ridicule me too much. This is a small group of people (20) and we are getting along fairly well. Perhaps not bosom buddies or life long pals, but definitely polite and able to share a joke here and there.

My major disappointment so far has been a lack of opportunity to work out and do PT. I'll take full responsibility for not going in the early mornings and am going to make an effort to change this. One of the reasons has been that I have been sick for quite a while (stomach cold, followed by a chest cold). That has largely cleared up and I feel pretty good now. The work days are expected to get shorter now so I won't feel so dragged out all the time. These are all bad excuses but I'm still focused on my fitness goal and fully intend to stick with it.

As much as I would like to say that everything is perfect here, you all know better than that and you would see through my lie. Luckily, the downside is small and easy to cope with. I don't anticipate that it will be much of a challenge to deal with.

The technical work itself is fairly routine and is well within my capability to perform. My supervisor has decided not to include me in communications outside our shop and he has refused to share the workload in an equal fashion. This means that my job duties are lighter than they should be and I don't have an opportunity for professional growth. Since I have a lot of experience and have been in the habit of working diligently at my job during my career, this was very irritating at first. After thinking about it for a while, though, I came to the realization that it's better to wait and see how things develop than to create a conflict. I receive the same benefits whether I work diligently or do nothing, so I won't push the matter.

The next month brings the challenges of the holiday season. This is my third Christmas away from home on work assignments and I know from experience that people start acting strangely during the holiday season. We'll see how this year turns out. Last night we had a BBQ and decorated Canada House with a tree and some decorations. The french people all attended and the other girl and I attended but there were three of the english people who didn't participate. They grabbed their food and left the room. My boss was one of them so this is not a good sign about how he is going to interact with me and the rest of the group during the next month. I think I'll just keep my mouth shut and observe what is going on.

Overall though, the trip has a lot of interesting "features", if that is the right word. Perhaps "experiences" is a better word. My goal is to come out of it with a better appreciation for what is going on in the world, or at least this corner of the world. This life experience is something that you can't get at university or by reading books. It has to be lived to be understood.

Life is an interesting journey and it's good to be open to new challenges. Take care everybody.


patricia said...

I want to tell you how very much I am enjoying all your postings but this one in particular. It is somehow reassuring to have a bit of an idea about your everyday situation. Thank you and un grand merci!

patricia said...

PS: At work it often pays to remember the Latin phrase 'Illegitimi non carborundum" which can be loosely translated as "Don't let the bastards grind you down"

Balcony Babe said...

Thanks for the cheerful messages. I feel much better now that I have vented.