Saturday, November 15, 2008

Worrying About the Economy is for LOSERS!

I have lived my life in a perfect little vacuum of financial security--never had to worry about getting a job, never had enough money to worry about losing any, and I always felt completely independent of any financial strife going on in the world.  But maybe there really wasn't any financial strife since I have been working (1993). Anyways, I feel a little vulnerable now with this move to Germany and layoffs at Freightliner where I am currently employed and then I read stuff like this link:

Which is a pretty bleak portrayal of current German economic status. Seems like bad timing to me.  Hopefully this does not effect our plans, but it is a cause of concern. I am such an adult now! I discuss politics, the economy, and kids with other day you are young and hip and the next you are a regular old thirty something. ha! It happens quickly, but you cant tell that to a kidless 26 year old. In my little microcosm, I am worried about my work permit going through (because they have to prove that an EU citizen cant do my job, but if there are lots of unemployed people that that may be tough to do) and then my new boss finding me a contract at an automotive company, who seem to be hit pretty hard. Seems like a crappy time to be looking for a job or to not have a job. My job seems semi-stable right now at Freightliner so I guess if this whole thing falls through, we will have other options.

On a grim and selfish note: Now is a GREAT time to travel to Iceland! See, National Bankruptcies are fun! Seriously though, when we visited Iceland in 2001 we could barely afford to eat at the grocery stores and buy bottled water. I think we went out to eat one time in 10 days, it was so expensive. That is when the kroner was 60 to $1 US. Now it is 150 kroner to $1 US--so it would still be expensive, but maybe we would stay somewhere other than the youth hostel. One of my dreams is to do Iceland right....couldn't be a better time. Sorry, people of Iceland, for your troubles, but you provided an opportunity for people to actually afford to visit you. NORMAL people, like us.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Bye Bye Passport

I really needed an excuse to post that photo in the blog. I still do not have an excuse for posting it, but I did it anyway. MY BLOG. I imagine that is how my courier looks upon his faithful steed, carrying my important documents to Deutchland.

Did you know that Portland has a functioning German consulate downtown? Neither did I. Once I had my visa application documents all ready to go, on Monday morning, I called the local representative, thinking it was some local German guy that will gladly take my money and documents for the delivery to San Francisco, where the real consulate is. Or he would just tell me to FedEx it down there. Nope! I called and a very nice German lady answered and told me to come into their office right away. So I left work for an hour and visited their very small office tucked away on the 16th floor of an nondescript downtown office block. Upon arrival, she sifted through all my documents and corrected some things, and had me fill out a couple extra forms. She was very efficient ( I love these Germans) and basically grabbed everything from me and made sure it was all there. She stacked all my papers and passport and that was it. She will mail all the documents to San Francisco, where they will courier my application to Stuttgart, where it will probably sit in a pile for a month. I hope not. The lady said that she would keep track of it and on November 24 I am to call and she will give me a status update. At that point, my future employer will contact the local visa office in Stuttgart and conduct a brief interview about me and why they need me, etc. She seemed very hopeful that I will have the visa before Christmas holidays. I hope so because I know how much time these Germans take off, I wouldn't be surprised if they are closed all December.

Jenna and I sat down and made a list of all the stuff we need to do--money issues, how to handle student loans, any other bills (online), what we are going to sell (couches, desk), and what we need to do to the house to prepare for renters. We are going to put a wall up in our garage so that we do not have to pay for storage, which after investigating, would cost us $180 a month. Hope we don't forget Oskar in there. So that's kind of a project, but wont be too bad. With the rain and the darkness, it is easier to procrastinate but hopefully we wont. There is no doubt we will be rushing around last minute.

The plan now is to leave Portland soon after January 12. That is if the work permit comes before Christmas time. I will need to give 2 weeks of notice at work. My mom is going to Mexico Dec 31 to Jan 8 so I had to promise and leave after that. 

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Marching towards the German Bureaucrats

I received the final contract today. All was as discussed, so everyone is happy. I also received my police report today in the mail (I am clean! PHEW). According to the German Embassy website, I need to send 2 copies of my work contract, police check, passport, application form and $92 to the consulate in San Francisco. There actually is a small consulate office in Portland that I can take all these papers to and they will send it off for me, so that is what will happen on Monday.  And then we wait.....I am confident that it will go smoothly, and I will try and keep tabs on the application. It's not in my control anymore!

BIG SIGH......I think that at this point all of this is becoming a reality. We should start going down our list of things that need to be done before we leave so that we dont get too stressed last minute. Looking back at the application process, I am quite surprised how it all worked out.  Going into it I thought I would get alot of interest. After about sending 30 resumes out there I only received around 3 serious inquiries, which really surprised me. I think that many employers are afraid of going through the work permit process, just the time it takes and really, even now, there is no guarantee that the authorities will grant me permission to work in Germany. THEY  BETTER. I hate to even relax about it because I am pretty often thinking the worst, that they will deny me and I will have to start over again. Job searching SUCKS, and that is saying it nicely. It sucks even more when you NEED a job, so I guess this was a little easier since everything would be fine if I didn't find one, but it still sucks big time.

All we can do is hope for the best. "Please Dieter, Helga, Karl, or Dirk...make this happen for us...we will do Germany proud! I will be a very well-behaved American and will adopt your country as our own (for a couple years at least), so please let us in."

I love that song Immigration Man by Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young:

There I was at the immigration scene
Shining and feeling clean
Could it be a sin?
I got stopped by the immigration man
He says he doesn't know if he can
Let me in-let me in-immigration man
Can I cross the line and pray
I can stay another day
Let me in immigration man
I won't toe your line today
I can't see it anyway

There he was with his immigration face
Giving me a paper chase
But the sun was coming
Cos all at once he looked into my space
And stamped a number over my face
And he sent me running
Let me in-let me in-immigration man
Can I cross the line and pray
I can stay another day
Let me in immigration man
I won't toe your line today
I can't see it anyway

Here I am with my immigration form
It's big enough to keep me warm
When a cold wind's coming
So go where you will
So long as you think you can
You'd better watch out-watch out-for the man
Anywhere you're going.

Won't you let me in immigration man
Can I cross your line and pray
Take your fingers from the tray
Let me in-irritation man
I won't toe your line today
I can't see it anyway.

Pippilotta Delicatessa Windowshade Mackrelmint Ephraimsdaughter Longstocking

which one is Mayzie???
Mayzie was Pippi Longstocking for Halloween...she was so damn cute, I could not resist a couple photos and a comparison photo like above. Jenna did an awesome job! She carried around her stuffed monkey (Mr Nielsen) and her little horse (Old Man). I have been getting the old Pippi movies (dubbed in English from Swedish) from the library for awhile now, and Mayzie loves em, just like I used to. Awesome!

Here is a video taken a couple days after Halloween--I wanted to capture how she would sing the Pippi song...

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Contract Negotiation

I received the offer from Stuttgart last Wednesday (the draft employment contract). It was long and winded, but basically he offered a salary of 4.200 (they use periods instead of commas over there. I know, they are INSANE) euros [$5,500] per month for the first 6 months and after this period, he offered 4.600 euro [$6,000] per month. I counter offered with 4.200 euro for first 6 months, and the 5.000 euro per month after that. I also countered with additional benefits like $1500 for the cost of us to move over there (basically one way airfares and money for shipping a big box), language course for Jenna and I (for help in "integrating"...that's the key word so they think you will be staying for a long time), help with taxes at the end of the year, and help with finding and paying the deposit for an apartment after our 2 months paid accommodation is over. I let him dwell on that for a couple days and called him Monday. We settled on 4.200 euro a month for first 6 months, 4.800 euro per month up til month 9 and then 5.000 euro per month after that. And he completely agreed on all my other requests! Wow, maybe we should have asked for more:)

We agreed via email and he said he would send out the signed contract by Friday! It is refreshing to speak and write with someone who is true to his word and does not fill me with any BS...hopefully that is a German trait. So, upon receiving the signed contract and the police report that I requested last week, we can send off my passport and all the papers to the German consulate in SF. Then we will wait. So hopefully I can get the papers in by next week, and if its a 2 month turn around, then that puts us in the middle of January. We agreed on a start date 3 weeks after the work permit arrives, so we will not book any flights before that time. He offered the 2 month accommodation and language courses before the work permit comes through, which is very nice, but the consulate will have my passport so that would be difficult.

Jenna is excited now that this is coming to fruition. I think she is mostly excited to know that she will not be working very much longer. 

Here is the company website I will be working for:

More later.....