Funny accents, hipsters and a rocking boat

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I’ve survived 2 weeks in the fancy office and had to make a few adjustments. It’s a very corporate environment – after all, it is a big company. Everybody is beautiful, wears nice clothes, has a tan and a Hollywood smile. And then there’s me – my idea of fancy is putting on a tie and my crappy shoes, maybe wash my hair.
The office has a fantastic view of London. I have a feeling it won’t get old for quite some time. Here’s a pic:
View from the office
Whenever I get bored I put on my thinking face and look into the distance. I like this place.

I work next to Hipster Dan – he’s got an epic beard which is his pride and glory. He even combs it every morning – that’s a funny sight. Who the hell combs a beard?
Oh, I’m not the new guy anymore. There was a merger in May and a bunch of people started on Monday this week. Today, I met this Italian girl and she has the funniest accent. She’s adorable. I can’t stop smiling when I hear her talking. I know it’s horrible but I can’t help it. She’s my favorite. I think I’ll pretend to not know something. Maybe I’ll ask her how pensions work… 😀 I’ve got it all planned out!

We had a social ping pong evening with a bunch of colleagues on Tuesday. I remember I got to the venue and realized I didn’t know what they looked like. The people I’ve met so far, largely didn’t show up. That was an interesting problem to have. I walked over to a group and sheepishly asked a guy if he was from my company. I’m glad he didn’t hear me because I recognized a colleague in the distance. Handled it like a pro!

I’ve also been doing a lot of dancing, much more so than normally. The highlight was the Zouk Boat Party on the Thames. And it’s exactly what it sounds like – a party on a boat. They had about 200 people and it was a great success. Dancing on a moving ship was very entertaining. I felt like a beginner again because people were bumping into each other all the time. Fun times!
I also liked that it was possible to go on the deck whenever I needed to cool down and/or chat with other people. Normally the music is too loud at a typical dancing venue, and I don’t like to scream at people. The boat ticked a lot of boxes for me.

Things are going great right now. For a while that hasn’t been the case. I remember telling myself that sometimes things need to get worse before they can get better. The grass is green again.

With love,
Ivar

Fancy people

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It was a late Sunday evening about a month ago. I couldn’t sleep and out of boredom went on reed.co.uk to check out what else is there. I guess I was having a crappy day as well.
So I thought I send my resume off to 3 job ads. I quickly updated my resume with my qualifications and job info and a few minutes later it was done.
Somehow I fell asleep.
First thing in the morning I applied to another 4 jobs… mostly because the previous day I thought I wasn’t good enough but in the morning I was happy to apply. Or maybe it’s the case that the morning isn’t as wise as the evening. It’ll remain a mystery.
The first phone call from a recruiter happened at 7:50 AM. I had a quick chat with the guy and then started towards work. It was a 40-50 minute walk to work. During that stroll I received another 4 phone calls from recruiters. Once I got to work I had to put my phone on silent because I was being sneaky and didn’t tell anybody about my plans to jump ship.
Throughout that day I received another 20+ calls, a bunch of texts and emails from recruiters. It felt good to be in demand, very good.
The ones I called back told me that their interest was high mostly because of my quick progression with industry exams. I was glad all that studying was starting to pay off.
My inbox was full of job opportunities. If I was interested I replied “interested”, otherwise “not interested”. Oneliners seemed like douchy replies but I had so many emails to go through.
I had three job interviews that week. I didn’t like the first one – the managing director pretty much insulted me right to my face. He said that I would never be able to advise British clients because I’m Estonian and therefore can only have Estonian clients and there’s not many of them around… I think he didn’t realize what he did so he just continued talking. Anywho, I wasn’t interested in working for that asshole.
The second company seemed nice at first but as the interview progressed I gradually realized how dodgy of a firm they were. For example one of their advisers wasn’t even level 4 (the minimum requirement to legally give financial advice in the UK). Another thing: the list of responsibilities kept getting longer and longer as the interview progressed. Red flags everywhere. No deal.
The third company was a “good” firm. There are a couple of them in London. This Chartered Financial Advisor had a very good reputation in the industry. However, the interview was the shortest in my life. I shared my opinions on financial markets, cashflow forecasting etc and got into a bit of a debate with the director who interviewed me. And then he said “I’m going to stop the interview now.” He said that he doesn’t want people in his office thinking like me. That came as a surprise. A minute later I found myself on the other side of the building’s front door.
I had an exam on the following Monday. This was the R06 (Financial Planning Practice) exam which I failed back in January this year. I had my fourth job interview 2 hours after the exam.
fancy
Now this company was fancy as hell. The interview was on the top floor of the building with a fantastic view over London. Its location was nice and central. It was beautiful.
I had a one hour “structural” interview followed by a 50 question multiple-choice knowledge test. I didn’t even know they were going to test me, so I had no prior preparation. I knew my test wasn’t my best and felt a bit crappy about it when I handed it over. I thought, “oh well, I tried”.
After that interview I had a second interview at the dodgy company. Another guy from the firm wanted to have a chat and I was in the area, so I figured I might as well meet him. The red flags remained. I got a better understanding of how their team worked. It was a small company and I guess you need to cut a few corners when you’re small and growing. Otherwise the interview went really well.
Next day I went to work as usual. I had a crapload of work to do because things just pile up when you’re off work “studying for exams”. I ignored my phone and email throughout the day.
I had a few missed calls but didn’t call back because Tuesday was salsa and bachata day. I was too busy to care and needed a bit of time off from everything.
Wednesday was very similar to Tuesday at work. However on the train onroute to London (Wednesday is zouk day) I got a phone call from the recruiter who got me the interview at the fancy company with the nice view over London. He said that they were very pleased with me and that my test went very well. He wanted to let me know that the fancy people wanted to get me onboard. I accepted. The offer was too good to say no.
Now I’m one of the fancy people and just finished my first week there. I’m required to wear a suit and a tie. Except on Fridays. Fridays are barefoot Fridays 🙂
Here’s a pic of me just being nervous me on my first day (I didn’t know I needed a tie):
First day
My new manager told me that my test score was the highest she’s seen anyone get. Looks like I know a thing or two about financial planning.
Speaking of tests, I passed the R06 exam as well. Now I’m only one exam away from the Advanced Diploma in Financial Planning. However I won’t get the title “chartered” until I get 5 years of industry experience. I think it’s still worth getting the exams out of the way.

Now I’m living and working in London. The first week’s been very busy but good. I’m enjoying it.

Today is moving day

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Firstly I’m moving my ass back to England.
I miss home. I was on the bus and I got a bit nostalgic. I was listening to a romantic song and watching out the window. It reminded me of that time I was living in my campervan in Australia near Shepparton.
I loved watching the sunset but I remembered the mozzies… so many of them. I used to open the back door and scroll down all the windows and go for a drive so that the wind would blow all the mozzies out before I went to sleep. #Lifehack… Life wasn’t perfect but in many ways it kinda was.

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Today’s plan is to move house. I’m changing jobs and will move to London as well. I’ve been in the UK for 1.5 years and virtually all this time was spent in Chelmsford. It seems like I’ve been missing out on the whole UK experience. I think London will be good for me.
My new place is the most expensive I’ve ever lived in (£750 pcm for my room) but the location is very good. The closest tube station is Angel and the place is only 1.5 km from work – I can skip the whole rush hour commute and stroll to work in only 15-20 minutes.
My new flatmates are Daniel (car surveys) and Joshua (IT guy). I haven’t met Josh yet. Dan seemed nice. He is/was a runner, plays guitar and seemed like a good chap.
BTW when I was flat hunting I only looked at one place – I didn’t have much time because of my sudden trip to Estonia. I checked the place out and said I’ll take it because of the location. There was another place which was even better however the rent was £1000 pcm – a bit too pricey right now. I hope my new home is fine though.
I’m probably not going to finish packing/moving today but I’ll get most of it done. I’ll finish on Monday.
Monday is also the first day in my new job. Exciting stuff.

Faith in humanity restored… and then lost again

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I didn’t quite know when the funeral was going to be. All I knew was that it’s the first week of August. So I booked my outbound flights for the 2nd August.
Just a few days later they set the date for the funeral and it was on the 1st of August.
Great news. It made my day.
I had no choice and booked a one-way flight to Tallinn (with a connecting flight from Amsterdam). Problem solved.
I also had to visit the Estonian embassy to address my expired passport situation.
I have mixed feelings about the embassy. The guy behind the counter was the first Estonian I’ve seen in months… anywho I had to fill in a form or two and voila I was given a “certificate of return”. Think of it as my emergency passport, looking dodgy as hell. It was valid only for a week. The guy was issuing passports and ID cards to a few people who showed up after me (because it was a quick little thing and my thing took longer…). I expected the man to finish with me before moving on to other people in the queue but no. Welcome to Estonia.

My new flights were with British Airways and Estonian Air. I made my way to London City Airport (super easy to get to). I thought it probably makes sense to talk to the peeps at the British Airways desk because of my dodgy passport and give them the heads up.
The man at the counter didn’t quite know what to do, so he called his boss who called the peeps in Amsterdam and after a few nervous minutes it was all green lights boulevard.

I found the way everybody treated me on British Airways wonderful. They were all bending over backwords to make sure I get to my dad’s funeral. Nobody raised any additional questions when I boarded the planes. Faith in humanity restored.

The funeral was sad. I saw a bunch of relatives I hadn’t seen in many years. They might as well have been complete strangers… I knew nothing about where they lived, what they did for a living or what they studied/planned to study at uni. I’ve lost touch with most of them.

First thing on Monday I needed to get a new passport. It takes up to 2 working days to get it done if you choose the speedy option. My dodgy passport only allowed entry to Estonia but was no good for a return flight.
Anywho, I was impressed by the speed of things. I applied for a new passport around 10 AM on Monday and received an email to collect it the same day at 3:40 PM. Wow! The only downside was that I had already left Tallinn and had to travel back again on Tuesday to pick it up.

During the week I met up with a few friends. It was really good to see my main bros – Siim, Pete and Olav – and my family as well.

Remember, I didn’t take the first leg of my flights I booked originally? I thought I could still use the return flights from that original booking. I was wrong. I discovered this about 24 hours before the flight when I tried to do my online check in.
Since it was a no show, all my flights on the booking were cancelled. I was never notified about this.
The carrier (Lufthansa) said the travel agent (TravelUp) might be able to reinstate the flights. I called them but no such luck. All I could get out of them was a £31 refund which would take 4-6 weeks to be processed. Faith in humanity is now a thing of the past.
I can’t catch a break.

image

It seems like this is standard practice – if you miss the first leg of your booking they cancel all flights.
I was out of options and booked a new flight to Stansted for tomorrow. I’m glad I’m made of money.
This has been an expensive, stressful and crappy week (with a few exceptions). I hate Lufthansa, TravelUp, buses, online check ins, my bank account and flying. I just want to go home.

Ivar

Today is a strong day

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These are the words I read from my mug trying to keep my shit together. “Today is a strong day” I repeat. Why is today so much harder than yesterday when I found out about it?
I log in at work hoping to find a shitstorm in my inbox. However, no such luck. Nothing. Nothing to distract my thoughts.
SteveO says “good morning” and I couldn’t. Not a single word. He made all this so much harder. You could cut the awkward silence/tension with a knife. I was still in shock so I didn’t notice it at the time.
I had another sip of my crappy coffee and noticed that I finished it.
“Today is a strong day” – Mr Strong.

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.
.
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Except……..that it isn’t.

Lets timetravel to yesterday.
I had a fairly good day and was on my way to London to dance some zouk. My battery was low, so I had my phone on flight mode.
I got to the dancing venue and for some reason turned my phone on normal mode
.. which is odd because the dancing venue/bar is underground and I had no signal there.
However a FB message made its way to my phone. It was from my brother.
He said he’s got some bad news for me. My father died.
A beginners salsa class was ending at that point as I read the message and you could hear the instructors giving pointers and summaries to the kids about what they learned today.
At the same time I completely froze.
And started shaking. Uncontrollably, but not visibly (maybe it was visible, I’m not sure). An inner tremor of sorts.
The music switched to a zouk beat. I was glad it was dark and nobody saw me… or maybe I wasn’t too concerned whether anybody saw me or not.
I pondered about what I should do and remembered something I read a long time ago. When somebody dies, you shouldn’t make any radical changes to your life. Instead, continue your daily routine as you always do.
I felt the waterworks starting.
I made my way to the toilet to take a piss… you ever wonder why the loo is so busy at the worst possible moment?
I remembered that it’s not possible to feel sad if your body is in a happy/positive posture. So I sucked it up. Chest up, head up, shoulders back and it got better. The initial shock was a thing of the past.
That didn’t last long…
I needed to distract myself before the class started and made some conversation with Phoebe. I think that was the wrong call… She asked me how I was and I said fine… she saw right through me and I gave her some crap about having a stressful day at work in response.
It was a painful conversation but it worked. I kept my shit together.
The class started. Zouk is a fairly engaging thing you know. The fact that I can’t multitask also helped. Only a few times did my thoughts wander and remind me of what had happened. I feel bad for saying this but I was able to enjoy myself throughout the evening. Don’t judge, dealing with death isn’t something they teach you at school.
However, I broke down like a little bitch just a few steps from home. It was too much. I couldn’t hold it in anymore. The distractions were gone and
I fucking cried myself to sleep.

Next day
Next day I went to work, as usual (remember the thing about not doing anything radical…The stupid is strong in me.) The morning was difficult but as I got more involved with work it got better. Much better. I shared the news with one colleague who might have shared it with a few others.
But I wasn’t quite myself. I was very quiet and generally avoided human contact.

Did I mention that my passport expired in March? Well… that’s a bit of a problem if I want to go to the funeral in Estonia. Anywho… I contacted the embassy who came back to me fairly quickly and told me they could issue me a document which will enable me to travel temporarily. However, first I needed to tell them what my travel dates are. At this point where was no date for the funeral… I would contact them again once I know. I was told the Embassy can issue the document in half an hour and all I needed were two passport photos and a date for my flight out of the UK.

I feel the fucking rainbow. I’m sad, then angry, then oddly OK, then depressed, then even happy. I’m all over the place. And it feels like there’s no end in sight. Work helps, a lot. It keeps me focused on other things.

I wrote the above almost two months ago. The funeral was last Saturday. I’d rather keep the details to myself about why it took so long until the funeral. Sorry. Don’t ask. Things are much better now and I’m glad this is all behind me and that I can finally close this chapter.

Ivar