I have decided to participate in the Friday “Show & Tell” again, it’s been a few months and I think that I have found my motivation again! Anna in Stockholm is the hostess for February and she has chosen the following themes:
5 February: My first job (Mitt första jobb)
12 February: Cars (Bilar) – Sorry, no Valentine topic this year!
19 February: Life after death (Livet efter döden) – Apologies for the morbid subject but I find it interesting to think about what happens after we die, if anything, and how miniscule our lifespan (as individuals) is in the history of the universe, or even that of mankind
26 February: Show without tell (Visa utan att berätta) – A picture is worth a thousand words, they say. Tell us something with one or more pictures. No words allowed!
Today’s topic is “My first job“, which caused a bit of a dilemma; should I write about my first summer / part-time job, or my first real job? It would be hard to illustrate* any of the [first] jobs I have had, but in the end this is what I came up with**:
Three out of four Thinkpads – and that’s just in O’s and my home! I am writing this blog post though on a Dell…
Guess where my first summer jobs were… My father found me summer jobs three years in a row in the company he works for. The first job was working in the reception / switch board, which was fun but a bit confusing. I never realised how hard it was to spell people’s names (for the name tags) and once I said “Good morning” when it was 4 o’clock in the afternoon, to the caller’s amusement who said something about somebody sleeping on the job…
Then I worked for two summers in the warehouse where I had to do inventory of computer and server parts, help the service technicians who came in for spare parts plus buy ice cream in the petrol station across the street for my boss, colleagues and myself. My brother had the same summer job a few years after me but I am not sure he got free ice cream Nevertheless, he’s working for the company as well now…
North of Sweden by air
The summer after graduating from high school, I spent a week in Härjedalen (region in the middle/north of Sweden) planting pine tree saplings with a friend of mine and her family. We used a tool known as pottiputki*** (Finnish for…?) and we were paid 0.20 SEK (if I recall correctly) per seedling! Lots of mosquitoes and gnats (knott), and I had a terrible cold – not a good combination, trying to breathe through your mouth but not swallowing any tiny black flies, euck! It’s been my only outdoor job and it was quite nice, despite the annoying insects.
The year between high school and starting university, I worked as a “jeune fille au-pair” in a Swiss-Swedish family in Geneva, Switzerland. I took care of two little girls aged 5 and 7, cleaned the house, did the grocery shopping in France and studied French twice a week. It was a tough year but I enjoyed it, and I still keep in touch with the family. I am even friends with the oldest girl on Facebook! Hopefully I will be able to see them this summer when we are hoping to go to Switzerland with my parents to see my father’s uncle’s widow, as well as my friends living in Geneva.
By the way, my two best friends from home, the ones I wrote about on Tuesday, were au-pairs in Dijon, France (Å) and Madrid, Spain (L). The three of us have continued living the international life, with Å in Copenhagen and L in France.
The Grand Hotel in Lund
While a student at Lund University I worked as a cleaning lady at the Grand Hotel, as well as a substitute kindergarten teacher. It was a very interesting experience working as a cleaning lady – I realised that most people pretend that you don’t exist (and don’t even flush the toilet before leaving a hotel room) and completely ignore you. It is also highly annoying with hotel guests who refuse to leave the room while it is being cleaned. One Japanese family gathered in one corner of the room and I had to vacuum-clean around them!
The job as a kindergarten teacher was much more rewarding and I couldn’t believe that I was paid to read stories, draw and play with children. It almost didn’t feel like work after having changed heavy sheets and scrubbed toilets in the hotel! However, you get tired from spending a full day with lots of children too, but it is more mental than physical.
Flags at the UN Headquarters in Geneva
Before moving to Brussels in June 2002, I had a 5-month internship at a small Human Rights NGO in Geneva. I spent most of my time monitoring meetings at the European HQs of the UN, learning lots of UN-acronyms and realising that as an NGO-representative you get to sit at the far back in the meeting rooms. The UN Commission on Human Rights was an intense but fun experience, and the end-party afterwards, organised by the UK delegation (I think) was wild.
Not the best photo of my first office building in Brussels – the Breydel! All the European Commission buildings in Brussels have names – mostly named after the street where they are situated. The Breydel is on the corner of Rue Breydel and Avenue d’Auderghem
Then I finally got my first real job in June 2002 at the European Commission in Brussels. I was hired and paid by the College of Europe but working at the Secretariat-General of the Commission as a legal analyst. All of a sudden I had to learn EU-acronyms and forget everything I had learnt about the UN system and focus on the EC legislation!
My French, Greek and Spanish colleagues, all of us young university graduates, were at the lowest end of the food chain as we were not fonctionnaires (civil servants) like our older colleagues. I learnt so much in the 2½ years I worked for the internal database analysing and classifying legal and administrative documents and I met some of my best friends in Brussels during this first job. However, at the time I could get so tired of the French contingent – mostly because I worked all day in French and was too exhausted to speak French in my free time as well!
I never worked in the main Commission building, the Berlaymont, since it was under renovation when I worked at the Sec-Gen. The same week I changed jobs within the Commission (to AIDCO / EuropeAid) in October 2004, my former colleagues moved into the newly refurbished and HUGE Berlaymont.
I will add an up-dated list of Show & Tell participants as soon as possible…
*) Because isn’t that the whole point with the “show & tell”?
**) I didn’t really managed to illustrate what I did, just the places where I worked!
***) Expensive stuff, apparently it costs over $300!