Don't take me wrong , I'm just about to give you "constructive criticism"

Para leer la versión en español, por favor desplázate hacia abajo

This is what I got from my boss last week: “constructive criticism”. Honestly, I do not know how to feel about this, our talk has been in my head for almost a week now.

  1. I know that music can help people concentrate, but please avoid listening to it for 8 work-hours straight. Germans are very strict with some things, so it’s just a heads-up.
  2. Rely on your colleagues whenever you need to. Remember, it is always a team effort.

About the first one, in my opinion, this is a very outdated way of thinking. I thought we’d come a long way when talking about what makes people productive. Yes, I do enjoy the security of the corporate world, but on the other hand, I can’t stop questioning how should productivity and efficiency be measured. Do we really believe that listening to music will hinder performance? I personally doubt so. In my case, contrary to what I have been asked to avoid, music helps me stay focused and makes the demanding tasks more bearable.

When it comes to the second point, this is an internal battle. I describe myself as a very independent person so these first months have been overwhelming on the personal level. One might think that with 28 years old, a bachelor and a master, one should have learned a lot and yes, I am convinced I did but at the same time, there are moments where I feel completely lost. This feeling paralyses me sometimes because in this opportunity there’s no induction and then going into the ring. This time it’s learning by doing. With almost no time to process the tons of information I have received in these weeks. So I am giving my best to perform in the best possible way under these circumstances.

Yes, I have delivered but at  the same time, I feel a bit ashamed about asking things that might seem obvious to my colleagues. I really don’t know how I can deal with these feeling. What adjustments to make to feel comfortable when have to rely on colleagues and asking for help. It’s a constant struggle between needing help, asking for help and getting help the way one expects: with kindness and patience. Not everyone is able to do that and whenever I feel that a person is unable to give me help the way I need it, it affects my willingness to ask for help in the future to the point that I try to ask for help as my last resource.

I guess it will take some time for me to process these constructive criticisms and hopefully the thought will leave my mind with a clearer understanding soon. On the meantime, I’ll try to educate myself on how to deal with these two situations in a work environment with the hopes of things getting easier to deal with and a simple action plan on what to do moving forward.

DSC_1729.JPG
 

Versión en español

Esto es lo que obtuve de mi jefe la semana pasada: “crítica constructiva”. Honestamente, no sé cómo sentirme al respecto, nuestra conversación ha estado rondando en mi cabeza durante casi una semana.

  1. Sé que la música puede ayudar a las personas a concentrarse, pero por favor evita escucharla durante 8 horas seguidas. Los alemanes son muy estrictos con algunas cosas, así que es sólo tenlo presente.
  2. Apóyate en tus colegas siempre que lo necesites. Recuerda, que nuestro trabajo debe ser siempre un esfuerzo en equipo.

Sobre el primer punto, opino que esta es una forma de pensar muy anticuada. Pensé que habíamos avanzado mucho cuando hablamos de lo que hace productiva a la gente. Sí, disfruto de la seguridad del mundo corporativo, pero por otro lado, no puedo dejar de preguntarme cuál es la mejor forma de medir la productividad y la eficiencia. ¿Realmente creemos que escuchar música puede entorpecer el rendimiento? Yo lo dudo. En mi caso, contrariamente a lo que se me ha pedido que evite, la música me ayuda a mantenerme concentrada y hace que las tareas exigentes sean más llevaderas.

Sobre el segundo punto, esta es una batalla interna. Me describo a mí misma como una persona muy independiente por lo que estos primeros meses han sido abrumadores a nivel personal. Uno podría pensar que con 28 años, con una licenciatura y una maestría, uno debería haber aprendido un montón. Y aunque no tengo dudas de que de que lo hice, al mismo tiempo, hay momentos en los que me siento completamente perdida. Este sentimiento me paraliza a veces porque en esta oportunidad no hay inducción y luego cumplir con el trabajo. No, esta vez me ha tocado aprender trabajando. He tenido muy poco tiempo para procesar las toneladas de información que he recibido en estas semanas. A pesar de esto, estoy dando lo mejor de mí para desempeñarme de la mejor manera posible bajo estas circunstancias.

Sí, he cumplido con todos las solicitudes que se me han hecho, pero al mismo tiempo me da un poco de vergüenza preguntar cosas que pueden parecer obvias para mis colegas. Realmente no sé cómo lidiar con este sentimiento. Qué ajustes podría  hacer para sentirme cómoda cuando me toque pedir ayuda y poner mi desempeño, de alguna forma, en manos de mis colegas. Es una lucha constante entre necesitar ayuda, pedirla y obtenerla como uno espera: con amabilidad y paciencia. No todo el mundo es capaz de hacer eso y cuando siento que una persona es incapaz de darme ayuda como yo la necesito, esto afecta mi disposición de pedir ayuda en el futuro y como consecuencia de esto intento pedir ayuda como mi último recurso.

Supongo que me llevará algún tiempo procesar estas críticas constructivas y espero que las críticas constructivas dejen mi mente con una idea más clara pronto. Mientras tanto, trataré de investigar y aprender sobre formas para poder manejar con éxito estos dos escenarios en el ambiente laboral. A pesar de esto, no pierdo la esperanza de que las cosas se harán poco a poco más fáciles de llevar.

Continue Reading

5 things that are different at my work in Germany vs. my last work in Panama, a personal experience

After a month in my job, I quickly realised that I had to get used to the 8-5 routine again and at the same time adapt to this new work environment with a different work culture. For this reason and based in my personal experience, I decided to come up with 5 things that are different from what I had experienced in my last job as part of L’Oréal back in Panama and my first job in Germany.

  1. During the recruiting process, I was told that my future boss traveled a lot, which meant that he was not going to be in the office in Hamburg so often. For me that wasn’t a deal breaker because I prefer to work independently and I also know that I am not a fan of the type of boss who’s breathing in your neck all the time. Despite of this, I couldn’t avoid feeling strange during my first week at the company because my boss was still on holidays. Fortunately, in a month, I managed to figure my boss’ modus operandi and adjust accordingly. Communication and organisation were key here.
  2. Something that my last job and this one have in common is that we don’t have to punch when we arrive or leave the office. Yes, we do have access cards but they are not used to control when we arrive or leave work which in my opinion shouldn’t even be necessary because we are adults. We know what we have to do and when. I am not a kid anymore so these actually gives me a sense bigger sense of accountability towards my responsibilities.
  3. In my last job, we were pampered: a fancy coffee machine, normal milk, almond milk, cream and sugar for our coffees. In this office that pleasure doesn’t exist. There is black coffee, condensed milk and sugar. Consider yourself lucky with this assortment.
  4. In my previous work, the cleaning staff collected our cups every morning and afternoon, so that our cups were ready for the second round of coffee or tea of the day. In this company, that doesn’t happen. There’s a dishwasher at your disposal. Whenever you make something dirty you have to put your dirty plate, glass or cup inside the dishwasher and the cleaning staff will turn it on at the end of the day. This is not a problem for me, in L’Oréal, most of the times I washed my own cup.
  5. Germans are quite strict with their working hours so that in turn, the company, also respects your holidays and your leisure time which in my opinion is the “ideal” scenario. Exceptions, always! but this I have also adapted. I go to bed earlier so that I can manage to be earlier at work and then leave on time for my Feierabend.

This was a quick summary of those things that no one prepares you for but that have actually made my first work experience so far even more interesting. I am an endless learner so having this in my 8-5 job has been a source of motivation. The motivation to keep learning, to stay curious and to give my best, always.

 

Continue Reading

Life-Changing Experiences

When I received my residence permit I also received a letter that stated that if I wanted to increase my chances of obtaining a permanent residence permit I had to assist to an Integration Course. This Integration Course has two parts and when you complete both of them you have to do two tests to prove that you successfully completed this course.

When I received the letter that stated that I had to assist to this course, I was already taking german classes so I was able  to skip the german part of the course nevertheless, I did have to attend a 20-day Orientation Course.

Being the nerd that I am, I was excited to assist to the course because this course touches on different topics that in my opinion are very important to understand the society and the culture of the germans. If you don’t understand how the german society is structured the adaptation process can be a shock. I already lived here so I got that lesson with tough love.

In this class I spent the time with people from different countries something that made the course even more interesting. I had classmates from Afghanistan, Rumania, Spain, Brazil and Ukraine.

One of the things I enjoyed the most was being able to discuss a broad-range of subjects in a respectful manner while at the same time being able to share our experiences from each of our own countries and cultures. These days showed me that even though our cultures are deeply embedded in ourselves and also very different from one another being open and respectful are the key to each of us better integrating into the German society.

I can’t tell that I know everything about each of their cultures but the biggest lesson I got from this whole experience is that not knowing much about a person and a culture is not a reason to forget that this person is a human being. A human being that deserves my empathy and my respect and even more my admiration because moving to another country, for whatever the reason behind this big step and doing your best to integrate, to learn and to adapt is a big thing to admire and from me, to you, that ever took this big step I give you a big round of applause.

Living abroad changed my life. It will change yours if and only if you step out of your comfort zone. If you don’t , this experience won’t  have a meaningful impact on your life but if you do, how you see yourself and how you see life will change. Studying in Germany was an experience that did change my life and one of the reasons why I decided to pursue this project.

DSC03083
July 2013, Hamburg
Continue Reading

Are you open to diversity? Even if someone spat on your face?

We were invited to eat Filipino food at the house of our friends a couple from Australia who have been living in Hamburg for some months now. During this evening, Carlo told us a story that left me in shock. On his third week in Hamburg he went for a run and during his run he tripped with a woman. He said sorry and kept running further. Some minutes after, he happened to stop at a pedestrian traffic light and the husband of this woman started yelling at him because he had tripped with her, apparently it was the wife of this guy. Carlo apologized again and kept moving forward. Apparently someone saw this happening and as Carlo passed the pedestrian traffic light someone spit on his face.

When this happened of course Carlo was really mad. I can’t even think of how he should have felt. In this moment, he remembered that his friends back home had told him he had to get mentally prepared for Germany because things like this could happen.

Of course his story shocked me because I believe I have never been discriminated in Hamburg. Such an international city, how could this happen? What is wrong with people? was my thought.

But now, a few weeks after this episode, Carlo said something very surprising: you might think that because of this situation I would then put all germans in the same bag but I won’t. I refuse to give him a taste of his own medicine.

This is precisely what I will keep from this awful experience. 2018 and I can’t believe that we still have to be dealing with such issues. We are humans, period. That’s something we shouldn’t forget. Be a human to humans. You don’t necessarily have to agree with someone’s opinion, behaviour, sexual orientation or belief but what you have to do is respect everyone.

In moments like this is when I feel the most thankful. To have completed my high school studies in a school where a diversity of ethnicities peacefully coexisted. To know that my parents raised me to see humans, not boxes. To have been able to pursue master studies in another country which opened my mind and showed me that I don’t know everything and that I am constantly learning, evolving and experiencing.

I truly hope that one day our society realizes that we are all the same so that more people can get to have best friends from Croatia, Australia or Lebanon. Tina, Yvonne and Razan you are the friends that I selected to call my family in Hamburg .

With love,

Izmir

IMG_0607.jpg

Continue Reading

2017, thanks for the lessons

When 2017 began I was panicking. I knew I was moving to Germany in August and wanted to have everything under control. I started applying for jobs with the hope of having “everything under control” by then. Back then, little did I know that applying for a job in Germany was a job itself. I got frustrated and just stopped applying. I was investing too much time thinking about the future and not enjoying the present. I was going to leave Panama in 8 months so  decided to adjust my energy and invest it in enjoying my time with family and friends. The family and friends that I was probably not going to see for a long time just on the screen of my phone.

Getting prepared to leave Panama wasn’t an easy ride. As my departure got closer and closer, I started feeling scared. The decision was just setting in. It is hard to let go of things that you don’t really want to leave behind. I loved my job, felt very sad to leave my mom alone, had made new friends with whom I would have loved to spend more time and a promising small business but I had to leave. The other founder of my own family, Viktor, was in Hamburg and the time had arrived for us to finally be together.

Nothing could have prepared me for these four months. They have been quite a ride but they have also taught me that I am more lucky than I realised. They taught me how to appreciate the little things in life. That my mom, wherever it is that I am will always be my biggest supporter. That being married is not easy but that when you have by your side a person that supports, takes care and lifts you up in your worst date, it’s worth the job. That your true friends will always be there for you, it doesn’t matter that you live on the other side of the world.

Life is not easy, that you may already know but I do believe that what helped me go through these tough times was staying positive. I had days in which I gave myself permission to feel sad and not see the bright side but that was it. The day after, I would turn these feelings into fuel and just kept moving forward but the biggest lesson that this year left for me is that I am stronger than what I believed. That my sacrifices and the hard work will be worth it and that if I stay persistent my dreams will become true.

Here I am, on the last Friday of 2017, feeling happy because we’ll spent New Year with our new friends. I’ll begin my professional path in Hamburg next Tuesday and I have already booked two trips for 2018.

My wish for you, you that take the time every now and then to read my thoughts. In 2018, please:

Be kind to yourself.

May your life be filled with good energy and good intentions.

May you stay healthy.

May you work hard to reach your dreams and goals.

From my side, I’ll still be here weekly, sharing with you my life in Germany. I am already thinking on some things that I would like to improve within the blog so stay tuned for that.

I wish you a healthy and enriching 2018.

With love,

Izmir

DSC_1714

Continue Reading