Monday, June 19, 2017

Gated Shopping Community

First things first - this is a First World Problem if ever there was one, but I'm a shallow person after all, so let me vent a bit, o.k.? As you might now, I have been spending a few days in Nice every summer for the past years. My friends and I usually go there in late July, early August and this is when shops try to clear out the summer stuff, wooing customers with stickers or labels everywhere saying deuxième démarque or -70% in many cases. Needless to say, everyone who walks into the store can benefit from these reductions and we readily do...ahem. This year, I'll be there in the second half of August, when the sales will probably already have ended, but this is another story.
I did not know, however, that there seems to be a system behind seasonal sales in France. When I was in Lyon last week, I noticed tempting signs with reductions popping up in most stores the second day we were there. Upon closer inspection some (very confusingly, not all, though, meaning you only find out when you are about to pay) of these signs explain that you need to have "la carte", i.e. that store's loyalty card in order to qualify. Depending on how nice the person at the checkout counter is, they can sign you up, even if you are not a resident or ask the person behind you if they are willing to present their card to allow you to get the discount, but in theory, it is not for you, the average tourist itching to whip out her credit card. Bummer!
In fact, I got so frustrated seeing all those sale stickers at Galeries Lafayette, my favourite store to sales shop in in France, that I ended up walking out pretty quickly. I actually asked the lady at the info counter if this was a Lyon specific thing as I had often benefited from the reductions sans la carte elsewhere and she explained that the general sale begins after June 25. So - mental note, only book a vacation to France in the first half of June if you want to save money or torture yourself ;-p
Also, while on a shopaholic frustration rant - I already knew from Nice that Galeries Lafayette for example attaches squares of various colours that stand for the discount - e.g. green = 40%, organge = 50%. There is no "glossary" anywhere though, so you need to ask and it is not the same in every store either, i.e. I found the colours to stand for different percentages in different department stores. Very confusing. Well, I guess I saved money by not being allowed to join the sales party.
Minor shopaholic complaints aside, Lyon was absolutely amazing and I can wholeheartedly recommend a visit there - so much to see and do and very friendly locals.

Monday, June 12, 2017


The German equivalent of the English proverb "Christmas comes but once a year" is Man muss die Feste feiern, wie sie fallen, roughly translated as "you have to celebrate (happy) occasions whenever they occur". I am a firm believer of that saying and it is the reason why I have made a point to celebrate my birthdays by taking out my friends to a nice place on my birthday. It's not that I want to be the center of attention at all cost (rather the opposite is the case) or want to be showered with gifts (a nice side-effect, admittedly), but I have learned not to save anything "for later" or just to commemorate the really BIG occasions, as you never know if yourself or your friends will still be around then or able to party with you. For example all the places you are dreaming of visiting - don't tell yourself that you will visit when your retired/the kids have grown up/you get a salary rise. If you can find the time and have the financial means to make it happen, make it happen at the next available opportunity. I am sure you will find other great things to do later, too, but you don't want to be bitter later when for some reason you can't make your dreams come true any more for whatever reason and wish you had not waited. It might take some effort and not always be the most relaxing day for the host(ess), but I am a firm believer that you should indeed celebrate happy occasions or come together just because as often as you can or such occasions present themselves.

Monday, June 05, 2017

Over and Out

The giddiness of having found a new job in a field that I am really interested in was replaced by a feeling of nostalgia and sadness earlier this week when I (briefly) visited my former office for the last time on Tuesday and Wednesday. I felt the same leaving Coma HQ even though the circumstances were  very different back then. I had colleagues I got a long with very well at both places, but this time, I also identified with the Firm, or the brand on a totally different level. Moreover, I had that end-of-an-era feeling and knew that despite the fact that there were a lot of mutual "let's keep in touch"-es and "we'll catch up again soon"s only time will tell which of your former workmates you will still be in touch with in a few years time. My Vienna colleagues (whom I was not technically in the same team with for the past 5 years) surprised me with a very, very nice DIY gift and a very, very generous monetary one, so I definitely left feeling duly spoilt and valued, but it was still weird. I left the office around 5 on May 31 and arranged to meet a friend afterwards as I realised I didn't want to just go straight home. When I did come home, it was definitely one of those days where I would have appreciated being welcome by someone who is interested in what I have been up to and basically anticipated that I am in a weird mood and need diversion and a cuddle. Thankfully, I had plenty of appointments on the remaining days of the past week and so melancholia gave way to excitement hat I have another month of dolce vita ahead of me. Here's to new beginnings!

Monday, May 29, 2017

Seventeen Again

When this post goes live, I will probably just have finished breakfast and get ready for a final swim in the hotel pool before checking out from my hotel in Umag, Croatia, and head back to Klagenfurt after a lovely mini break. With my parents. With whom I actually also shared a room, for the first time since our last family (camping) holiday when I was 17. Since then, I have often been on vacation with just my Mum, but never with both my parents. Sharing a room was not the original plan, but they booked short notice and this was the only option with a sea view for all of us. I did not mind at all and it was very harmonious (not mentioning that my parents kindly treated me to the whole mini vacation - the perks of being a spoilt only child...), but it was funny to hear some friends' comments when I told them about my plans. These were mainly along the lines of "over my dead body" and "don't forget to pack ear plugs, I'm sure at least one of them snores - mine do!" Well, one of them DID snore - an almost sweet sound compared to the merciless blast of live music from a nearby music festival -  but I would do it again in a heartbeat and I feel privileged that unlike several of my friends my age both my parents are still alive and we get to relive our family holidays of my childhood days.

Monday, May 22, 2017


Spending time in Vienna on weekdays without having to work is still quite a novelty for me. Even in the summer of 2015 when I was on my 3-months sabbatical, I did not spend that much time in town, mainly due to the fact that the weather was particularly hot (which I loved!) and the lake in my hometown was beckoning when I was not abroad anyway. Last week, I decided to check out the recently beautified Copa Kagrana "beach" area by the Danube (pretty run-down and horrible in the past years) and found it a lovely place to read in deck chairs by the river. Thanks to strong wind which almost had you believe you were by the sea and potted palm trees, it really was a lovely spot to switch off and chill, a mere 5 subway stops from Stephansplatz. I am planning to go there more often, and also to discover other easily accessible and completely free of charge holiday-in-the-city spots.

Monday, May 15, 2017


Above is my horoscope on my last day of (actual) work in my current job. Now that I have signed my contract for the new one, it seems that every other person knows someone who is either working there, or used to work there. It's the type of company that really is a household name (therefore this shall be its new name here, too - Household Name, HN for short). I find it quit amusing, having heard comments from both ends of the spectrum. Here are a few snippets:
Oh, I could introduce you to X if you want - she used to work there. She left because she was kind of bullied by her colleagues. 
- My neighbour worked there all his life and does not stop raving about how he loved it.
- A friend worked there and told me it was really bitchy and competitive. You know, a lot of women in leadership positions, do I need to say more...
- They're going to force you to join a union!
- You'll have to work long hours there, just be prepared.
- OMG, you'll find it so laid-back and slow. I heard that nobody is there on Fridays past lunchtime.
- I worked next door and ate in their canteen - really amazing food for canteen stuff.
- This will be tough for you, having to eat what they serve in that canteen there.
and on and on
I am determined to find out whether I like my colleagues, the food, the work-life balance, you name it myself.

Monday, May 08, 2017

Don't Listen

I know, I know, that last post was very short and pretty cryptic - sorry about that. This one is going to be a long, rambly one, so fasten your seatbelts if you are in for the ride.
So, the news, in a nutshell: I landed myself a new job that I'm pretty excited about. It's not just the change itself (after all, I celebrated my 10th anniversary at the Firm 2 weeks ago) and the fact that this will only be my 3rd employer, not counting student "McJobs" - I'm very loyal, me - but the fact that it was such a smooth experience.
As a bit of context for those who don't know me IRL - the last 1.5 years were mildly upsetting and very paradox, job-wise for me. The job-role I had before the current one was discontinued (at least in the team I worked in) and my headcount eliminated, which meant I had to find an alternative. Thankfully, I managed to transfer to the one area that I had always been keen to work in. The catch was, it was a temporary arrangement (maternity cover) and one-way ticket of sorts. Due to the fact that I was not only interested in the field, but obviously not bad at it, my manager and everyone else involved were keen on keeping me and thus we found a way to extend the deal (to the end of May to be precise) and were hoping that "something will come up". What DID come up was a massive reorganisation that thwarted all my hopes and "displaced" several people. I received the bad news 2 days before I left for my trip to New York and it was a big blow. Won't lie, I cried myself to sleep 2 nights in a row and possibly would have done so longer if said trip had not distracted me. However, if there's one role I don't want to see myself in, it is that of victim and therefore I returned to work after that trip determined that I would definitely squeeze those metaphorical lemons I had been handed into some damn tasty lemonade. Cheers!
Earlier on the day my manager told handed me the reorg bombshell, I received a voicemail from a recruiter. It was for a job I had applied for in February. Actually the first application I sent out, realising I better start looking into a Plan B before Plan A won't work out...which it didn't. I was invited for an interview the day after my return from NYC. Unfortunately, the job posting had since been deactivated and was not even to be retrieved in the cache of the platforms it was posted on. Ooops. I had only a dim recollection of what it had said...Be that as it may, the interview obviously went well and after some more weeks of silence, I received a very good offer the Friday before last. I will begin in July and since I have annual leave to use up to in my current job, I am looking forward to enjoying 7.5 weeks of summer vacation in between.
The whole experience reminded me of my first job move from Coma HQ, where I had worked for 9 years, to the Firm. Several of my colleagues at Coma HQ were frustrated and bored, but kept "reassuring" one another that it would be so difficult to find something out in the real world, since after a long time in a civil-service-ish environment nobody would want you, regardless of qualifications. Somehow, this was just the common assumption. Well, I applied for ONE job exactly and it led me to the Firm, one of the most coveted employers out there, with a notoriously rigorous interview process and an unfavourable ratio of applicants vs job offers. 
Despite it being such a prized employer, I have met my fair share of frustrated employees at the Firm during those past ten years, but they are very reluctant to move or even start looking for something else as everyone believes that they will have to work for a fraction of their salaries and will lose all the many perks and goodies they have been enjoying. I never really challenged that. Guess what - not so, at least in my case. Yes, I won't have those perks any more, but I won't have to supplement my income with a side job. Far from it. 
So, yes, I have proved the sceptics wrong twice, finding a great job with minimal effort. Whether this new one will work out for me, we shall see, but  - guess what - I have a feeling they won't tie me to my swivel chair with masking tape and I will be free to go if I don't like it.
This post has been bubbling inside me for a while and I really wanted to share my thoughts in case you have been held back by superstition or bad advice yourself. Don't listen to the sceptics, but trust your gut instinct and give it a go. If nothing comes out of it the first time, it will be a good experience and you'll rock it next time. 
A few weeks ago (before Bombshell Day) I had lunch with some colleagues and one of them asked me if I was worried with that damocles sword of being out of a job dangling over me for over a year now and I replied that, while it wasn't the most pleasant of experiences, deep down, I was very calm and confident and believed my mantra of sorts ("everything will be alright")  that was strategically placed on my work laptop:

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