lunes, 15 de diciembre de 2008

my remarkable neighboors

Last weeks have served to enjoy London again after the stress to get in the School. Some theatre evenings, several dinners and drinks hosted by friends from the office in most of the times, my cousins coming from Madrid to visit me, an excursion to Oxford, Christmas shopping, and tomorrow the Christmas dinner with my team that I'm not looking forward at all above all last decision from my manager of not supporting my MBA, but anyway, not everything can turn out well.
2009 is coming with a lot of new projects and changes, even it might be possible I'll move to another area and for sure I'll miss a lot of things from my neighborhood such as for example my neighboors. I'm not talking about the ones who live behind the doors that I see in the corridor every time I come out from my house, that I don't ever see which is a mistery, but about other much more remarkable ones. One is the ex prime minister, Mr Tony Blair! it was a surprise some weeks ago when I realized why I found every day two couple of police men almost in front of my house. My good friend Ris who is teaching me a lot of things about London told me, didn't you know? I can say now that my area must be quite safe.
The other (or others) is Mr.... ?? he or she doesn't have a known name because turns up and dissapears without saying anything. But the thing is that I've seen how true is that London is full of foxes. I've seen them several times in front of the window of my bedroom as it heads a lovely park which is normally completely empty. What was more superb was the fact that I run into one of these animals two weeks ago coming back from Soho at 1 in ther morning. Can you imagine walking down a street from Hyde Park to my house and seeing a fox running almost in the middle in the street? It was fantastic! every night, when I go to bed I come into my bedroom without turning on the light and look at the window with the hope of seeing the fox looking for food, scene that I've seen repeated several times during the last month, but since I brought my digital camera to the window, he is not showing up! I guess he or she doesn't want to become famous... but they have the same look as the one I've uploaded, just to give you an idea

martes, 2 de diciembre de 2008

Watching English (I)

Last year I bought the book: Watching English but I've been so busy that I've not had time to read it. I promise to do it this Christmas (at least during the idle time in the airport and during the flights). This book deals with the "non written" English rules or English behaviour.

I'm going to start to list things that have called my attention by comparing them to Spanish people, positive (most of them) and negative ones (that exist as well), ranging from very "silly things to most profound ones:

- They (English people) don't clean their teeths after lunch - First days in the office I was embarrasing to go to the bathroom to clean my teeths because nobody else used to do it! Now I think my colleagues have assumed that I'm a little strange and they don't look at me surprised anymore. I think it comes down to the fact that lunch is so quick that they don't even have time for that. In Spain, we used to have up two hours for lunch time ...

- They don't socialize at working hours: No coffees ... almost they even don't say good morning! I've seen people going to M&S at lunch time alone to grab something to have it while they read the newspaper. To meet someone at lunch time is something exceptional. French and Spanish are the opposite...On the contrary they like to meet colleagues afterwork to have drink which is more seldom in Madrid. For example, if in Madrid you ask the girl that sits down besides your desk to have a beer after work, she might think that you want an affaire with her!! Here is something normal.

- They don't like the direct confrontation and this is reflected on daily routine. For example, they prefer send emails rather than talking on the phone. Some months ago, I exchanged around 10 emails on a topic with an English engineer. To me, that was a waste of time because it would have been much easier to address the issue through a direct conversation but that guy didn't answer my calls on purpose... For the same reason they are very polite when they disagree and use the expression: yes, that's perfect BUT ... which means: "I disagree with you"
- They (this is more profound) don't like to get subsidies. I like this one. I was talking with a guy who told me that in England unemployed people don't like to get any subsidy, in fact they get ashamed by this and they look for a job as soon as possible. Can you imagine this mentality in Spain where there are people that show off simply because they have managed to cheat the government by getting some subsidies?
I believe that the last one starts to show why this small country ruled over a vast Empire...

I'll keep gathering these kind of things (I have a very long list) to see at which extent we are different (Spain is different) or they are different!

lunes, 1 de diciembre de 2008

Making decisions

After at least four weeks under the weather, finally I've recovered my energy and I've stopped sneezing. I think I got all those colds not because of the freezing winter that we are enduring in London this year but because of the stress I had as I was in the process of making a decision with impact in my next 2 years. If sometimes It takes me ages to decide about what I'm going to buy, can you imagine how much I've been thinking about stuff that can affect my next 2 years? Now, the decision is made and I'll enroll on the EMBA of LBS in January. I hope such effort will be worth it. Everything started 10 years ago when I began to considerer the idea of complementing my technical background with business education, and that's how I am, a person that thinks about important things too much before stepping forward. So after 10 years, I've decided to leap: simply because inside I believed that this was the right moment and the right situation? (as I explained to the interviewers?)

I also thought about living abroad 15 years ago when I was in the University and I've done it with a "small" delay...again it might be because I've waited for the right time.? Or I should think also that I might be the kind of person that doesn't run any risk and as result makes things only when there is nothing to loose. I don't know really but I feel that you have to make important decisions when situations are really clear and matured. To be honest, I'm not unhappy about how things are tuning out so... I'll continue with my "methodology" or perhaps it might be rewarding to spend some time at Christmas in "El Espolon" (if the climate let me do it) why
It takes me so long to make decisions.
Anyway, philosofy apart, the point is that I've signed up to stay in London until July 2010 when I'll be 37 years old, almost sounds scary. Last Saturday I was celebrating my birthday and the truth is that I'm heading the 40s , the time is running fast, I still remember my years in Valladolid as something relatively closed in time ... it is a relief that still people tell me that I look like much younger. I'll keep drinking red wine :)

On the other hand, I've very proud of what I've done. Although my English is still quite bad, I've overcome all the tough tests of the School. I've demonstrated to myself that if I will, I can, and that thanks to London again, I've got back some dreams that I had hiden long time ago. What would it have happened if I had stayed in Madrid? Probably nothing. That's how life works, one time you make a decision that changes your life or you do nothing and nothing changes for good.

Without no difficulties, this time here keeps being the best time in my life? It might be ... or It will be even better. What is true is that here everything might happen and that's the best thing after all.

lunes, 3 de noviembre de 2008

Lost in traslation

It is being my most difficult time in my professional career, no doubts about this. At the same time I'm learning faster than ever I think. The highest difficulty in my job is coming from the envirnoment. I have to travel now every week to Paris to meet people that I'm meeting now for the first time that see me as a new competitor coming from London and who is not French.

Last week was very fun. I've met around 20 different people for the last weeks. Regarding a topic, I've attended several meetings where I've met always the same guys, 5 French colleagues. Since the beginning and given the situation I realized that I had to show an agressive attitude to build credibility rapidly or otherwise I was going to be considered someone no relevant. So I thought, ok, let's identify who are in the meeting and let's come across to each one the right message. The thing is that I've heard so many names that I've got confused and moreover when 20% of the meeting my colleagues were speaking in French.... I had identified a colleague as a simple manager, typical "Parisino", very fashion wearing always very smart suits and quite young, and I was challenging his arguments all the time and trying to undermine his propositions treating him like someone at my level just to show "be careful, I might not be able to speak French but I know what I say". And I was treating with a lot of respect another guy, older because I thought he was the Vicepresident. Both had the same name. One guy who looks like a teenager was considered by me like a graduate. But during the last meeting I pointed the supposed manager that I had received his mail and that I appreciated that information. He told me, yes, N is your contact for it. I thought, something is going wrong. The signature of the email said Director so it is strange that the teenager sends me the file...Next day, someone on the phone idenfied with the name and surname of the Vice President, asked me to send some information. I thought, his voice on the phone looks like younger. Everything was more confused when the supposed teenager told me some days after in the last meeting: R, come to my office tomorrow to discuss it. "To his office, I thought...."

Yes, the supposed teenager is a Director, a level higher than mine and has a nice office with coffe machine, 2 PCs, a round table.... The supposed manager is Vice president, two levels higher than me. And the old guy is just a manager like me. Ufh!!! what a disaster, my attitude has not been aligned during the last meetings according to the level of each counterparter! Anyway, I was laughing when I checked all the faces in the directory and realized about everything. Now every time I have to speak with the "teenager" and the "fashion guy" I am being very careful... Tomorrow I'll meet them again... I hope these meetings will turn out well!

domingo, 31 de agosto de 2008

Bye, bye 2008 summer

It is being very grey and rainy these days in London like a reflection of the end of the summer that has been great: 15 days travelling around US (Las Vegas, LA, San Francisco, Josua tree, Death Valley, Yosemite...), 4 days enjoying the family and old friends in Roa and the rest going out in London with very good company.

But now a new season starts, with a new job! Fortunatelly I managed to move to a much better department, not bad for my first year, there is a new lovely member of the Spanish community in the office (Welcome to London!), a new challenge is waiting for me as my application for LBS has to be ready in almost 1 month (and I'm not doing it well I'm afraid)... so I hope I'll fulfill all my objectives in the coming months.

For the moment, let's take my mind to the good memories of this summer that has already past with a nice picture from the Grand Canyon...

viernes, 20 de junio de 2008

One year since I moved to London

The 3rd of July of 2007 I landed in London. A lot of hopes mixed with uncertainty, a really very bad English, almost nobody known in my new city, just two colleagues from my office of Madrid but that had their own life here, a new apartment which cost me double price than a nice apartment in “La Castellana” de Madrid” but half size of my flat in Madrid. A new office, new colleagues whom I almost could not understand, a new boss, with a completely different style compared to the style of my previous one. A new way of working with a lot of procedures, with nobody to have lunch or coffee for a break. I still remember the first Friday when I left the office, I went to have two pints after work with some colleagues and after 1 hour everybody started to say, “Sorry I have to go, I have a dinner now” or “see you next Monday, I’m going to meet my friends now”. I thought and, me what am I going to do now? I just came to home where still I didn’t have TV. Next Monday, the same story, let’s connect to a conference call to not understand anything …. What a bad feeling I used to have after those meetings on the phone…..what a feeling was to walk in new streets for me.

But from the beginning I knew that I was doing the right thing. It is always the same, I have a strange ability to know whether I’m following the good path or not and to feel good with myself.

A lot of things have happened during this year. Today I can do my work so easily that my boss started to feel uncomfortable some months ago because I think he feels he is not in charge anymore. Tomorrow I’ve been invited to two parties, to an excursion to visit Brighton, I’ve renewed my contract with my landlord one year and I like much more my apartment in London than my flat in Madrid, the waiters of the pub of the corner recognize me like an usual customer, I stop to talk with my porter every morning before going working, I have a chat with the shopkeeper about football every day when I go to buy bread, "Torres is going to score on Sunday and Spain will come through, he told me this afternoon" on the 2nd floor of my office I know everybody, in fact I have to skip everyday people to have lunch and I have to refuse two emails everyday of people inviting me to have a coffee because I’m busy, this Sunday I’m going to meet a group of around 10 people to watch the quarter final between Spain and Italy together and the most important thing, although unfortunately I’ve struggled so far to meet English people, I can get by with my English. I can go to anyone in the office or in the street without the fear of not being able to understand them. I can walk down streets that I already know which makes me feel comfortable. I have new friends. But, very important: I can meet my Spanish friends from time to time or at least I’m in touch with anyone. The authentic friends are not lost because the distance. And of course I've met some of them in London several times, great. Just I only miss to have the opportunities to go my little hometown more often, once every two months is not enough to visit my family and to stroll along “El espolon”, I hope a new plan that I’ve started in May will bring me good results in the short term to have business travels to Madrid frequently, that would be really nice, I hope….

I’m the most fortunate person in the world (just because I have health, a strong reason to me to state this) and for sure I’m going to keep making the most of my time. Time flies and I don’t want to wake up one day and to ask myself “if I would be 20 years old again, I would do this”. I’m sorry but you were 20 and you didn’t, you had your time and there are no excuses. So if you think about doing something not to break with your life but to improve it, like moving abroad, seize your opportunity, it will be great (I might be thinking of someone).

jueves, 29 de mayo de 2008

The sleeping beauty

The visit to the Royal Opera House has been my most glamourous activity so far. We went to see the ballet “The sleeping beauty” by the Orchestra of the Royal Opera House.

It is the third theatre on the Covent Garden site and it started its activity in December 1732. Handel gave regular seasons here from 1735 until his death in 1759. A big fire destroyed the theatre in 1808. It was rebuilt very quickly but in 1856 the Theatre was completelly destroyed again. It was opened on 15 May 1858 with a performance of Meyerbeer's Les Huguenots. The theatre became the Royal Opera House in 1892 as the number of French and German works in the repertory increased.

The new building that we can see today was finally realized in December 1999 when the new architectural team of Jeremy Dixon and Edward Jones with BDP (Dixon.Jones.BDP) revealed the £178m Royal Opera House to the public.

The main anphitheatre is noble, evocative, elegant, sumptuos, stanning… Just to see the atmosphere is worth but in this case we enjoyed a lot the performance, with music from Pyotr ll’yich Tchaikovsky.

During the breaks, don’t miss the icecreams that are sold direclty in the corridors, they tasted really nice.