Getting over the hump

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The level of bureaucracy in London is huge. It took me almost 2 months to open a bank account here. You might think that all you need to do is just walk into a bank with some ID an voila they’ll open your new account. Not that easy.

Banks here want two things: ID and proof of address. The ID bit is easy – a passport will do fine. Proving your address is difficult. I’ve already lived in 4 different places in London – I couchsurfed, stayed with a friend’s friend’s friend, shared a room in North London and now I’m living in Chelmsford, Essex.

I had several options for proving my address:

A utility bill (can’t be a mobile phone bill) – it takes time to get and in my case was a hard sale. I kept moving from one place to another. My landlords weren’t too excited about this idea.

National Insurance number letter – Barclays bank allows to use this letter as proof of address. It took me 4 weeks after the interview to get my NI number (I also had to wait 3 weeks for the interview in the first place). They posted the letter to my old North London address. Since it wasn’t my current address I didn’t use it. Might work, might not.

Tenancy agreement – my current landlord in Chelmsford provided me with a tenancy agreement but that wasn’t good enough for the banks. Since it wasn’t from a housing association they treated it as a private agreement and thus it was insufficient.

Bank statement – All I needed to do was change the address in my current bank and order a paper statement. On the downside it might take a while until you receive the statement (I had an Australian bank – CBA). I actually got my statement in about 5 working days – two days too late because I found another way to open a bank account. So I’m not sure if this option works or not for proving your address.

Letter from employer – this one worked for me. Obviously you need to find work first. All you need is a signed paper where your employer confirms you work for him/her with your current address. It needs to be printed on the company’s official paper (with logos, addresses etc).

This marvel document enabled me to book an appointment to open my bank account. Mhm… you can’t just walk in and open one – even if you have all the documents. My Chelmsford HSBC branch’s first available appointment was in 2 weeks time. So I asked them to schedule an appointment in any other branch in London to get it done ASAP. I got an interview for the next day on Oxford St.

I went to the branch and gave the guy my documents. He went to a backroom, scanned my papers and a bit later said he can’t open my account. It was because the letter from my employer had some pixelation problems in the bottom area – the address was printed in a small font and some dots were missing –  “anybody could’ve printed it” – a ridiculous reason to stop this process. It felt a lot like “I can’t open the account because I don’t like your face”. I rang my employer and she had a word with the bank’s representative. Then the man went to the back again, spoke to his auditor and five nervous minutes later he was happy to open my account.

You might think I was happy about that…but in reality I was just very annoyed. It was such a pain in the ass to open the account though I’m glad this bureaucratic nightmare is over.


getting-over-the-hump

I was listening to a podcast the other day. A guy was talking about helping people relocate to other countries. Anywho he said that it usually takes about 2 months to get over the humps of living in a new country. After that things will get better.

If I look at it that way I’m doing quite well. I’ve got a job (woohoooo positive cashflow!!!), have a NI number, UK bank account and a place to live. Soon I’ll have a social life as well – I took 2 Latin dancing lessons earlier this week, met a bunch of people and had a good time. I’m glad the venue is only a 10 minute walk from home. I can’t wait to go back again.

Ivar

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The Miracle of Life

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Isn’t it amazing how a new life is created from a single egg and sperm? Once the egg is fertilized all kinds of magical stuff starts happening. We’ve all been there – every single one of us. And now we’re all collections of billions of cells and large organs and limbs etc. The coolest stuff happens when we’re still in the womb, after birth the magic fades. We grow up, go to school, work, retire and die.

Miracle of Life

The miracle of life is amazing in its own right but there’s more to it. You see, I’ve been looking for work for about a month. In my previous post I mentioned two job interviews which I had a good feeling about. The first one was at a supermarket chain for a temporary IT support/analyst position for 2 months; the second one at a financial planning and advice company.

I applied for the IT support job via an employment agency. It seems like most advertised jobs in the UK are with employment agencies. I applied for ads for a while until I thought I needed to add another tool to my job-seeking arsenal. I wrote a cover letter and started forwarding it with my resume to companies directly.

I liked my second method more because it was a bit more proactive. I remembered reading that most jobs aren’t advertised anyway… so this was worth a shot. I did this for a week until I landed the interview at the financial planning place.

I’ve been interested in the financial world for ages and the owner said they’re happy to train me to become a financial adviser. Mentioning my naked skydive was a good idea – it got their attention.

It wasn’t much of an interview. The boss put a paper in front of me and outlined the process of becoming a financial adviser – a series of exams which I needed to pass. Since one of their administrators was going on maternity leave in a few months they decided to start me off as an administrator. As I pass my exams my job will gradually progress towards a paraplanner and then a financial adviser position. The miracle of life works its magic beyond the womb. 😀

happy flower

Man was I happy after the interview. I couldn’t wipe that smile off my face. Finally I got a break. My one- crappy-job-after-another curse has ended.

I had a second interview at the same company and later that day they made me a job offer which I accepted.

Two days later I was also offered the IT support job but I declined because I was already happily employed.

Next week I will move closer to work. Travelling 65 km one way is too much. It’s expensive and takes too much time. This week I woke up at 5:30AM and got back home around 8PM. It was exhausting – I can’t wait to move again.

I’m still trying to get my money back from Turkey. The guy keeps dodging my messages and doesn’t show any interest in paying me back. So, today I told him I’ll file a scam/fraud complaint on Monday. He promised some crap about paying on Thursday – at least it scared him to reply me. I also signed up his email for some gay porn newsletters. 😀 If he doesn’t pay on Thursday I’ll put his mobile number on Craigslist under the man-seeking-man section. While I’m at it I might as well sign his home address up for some magazines and advertising spam materials. That’ll teach him not to mess with me!

Ivar the Avenger