Friday, July 29, 2011

Interim offices and job interviews

This week, I have been mostly visiting several interim offices in the city that I am living and have been invited for several job interviews.

During my last weeks in Ghana, I had created a profile on several Belgian job hunting websites (Stepstone, Monster, Vacature, ...). I would recommend everybody to do that, especially if you have a technical profile like me.

I wouldn't call the response 'massive', but I have been invited on a daily basis to one or two interviews at several companies and organisations, even though this is 'holiday season'.

My problem is that I am not yet sure if I really want to do that, working in ICT again, I mean. I will need a bit of time to orientate myself and to get to know what I actually want, but the several invitations give me some 'interview experience' again and brings me in touch with several business cultures.

At the same time, I have registered myself with the several interim offices. Up to now, they have been a bit disappointing. I mostly got mismatches (a company that needed a person with knowledge of physically installing fiber optic cable, is not a good vacancy for me) or nothing at all. Maybe they are not a good place for an informatician.

But still, I feel like I have been a good citizen this week and made some kind of 'progress'. I am curious what offers I might get.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

The bank doesn't like long hair (2)

Earlier this week, I got myself a haircut. Not because I really wanted it, but purely because people were discriminating me for wearing it long, and I have to find a way to get a good job while I am here.

To test it, I came back to the same banking office I was almost a week ago and requested again for the balance of my savings account. Surprise surprise, this time it was not a problem at all and (more shockingly) they didn't even request for my ID card.

But okay, I am happy that I am 'part of society' again but sad that people are so superficial.

Saturday, July 23, 2011


Another family reunion! It's probably not interesting to you guys, but to me it means a lot. My father had moved to Holland some 6 years back. I haven't seen him since last Christmas so I am spending the weekend at his place now.

He hasn't changed a bit, still worried about my future. I respect him for that, but he should relax a bit more. I am happy for all the good conversations and the warm meals. Thanks Dad.

Friday, July 22, 2011


Today is Friday, I was happy to get a phone call from Bossie, my old roommate. He has been so kind to follow up with all my correspondence and all the necessary paper work while I was abroad.

It will be a nice day of catching up and he will also hand me my new identity card. Woohoo, now I am a person again according to the Belgian state :-)

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Family visit

Today is the national holiday of Belgium. For the first time in almost 10 months, I will meet my brother and his fiancée again, spending a day at the seaside and visiting family. It promises to be a nice day, I am looking forward to it.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The bank doesn't like long hair

Taken from Ronalfly
I have been in Ghana for over two years. Here in Belgium, I have a savings account, but because of the long time that has passed since I had set foot inside their office, and simply because I didn't have internet banking or any statement, I had no idea how much money was still inside.

Still, as you might be aware, money is an important aspect of this society. No money means no shelter, no clothing, no food unless friends or family can provide it for you. Simply put, I just needed to know how much I have to have an honest idea of my possibilities.

So the first thing that I do when I arrived, after going to my new place and greeting my good ol' housemates, is going to the bank. I was nicely showered, dressed casual and ready to pop the question.

Upon entering the bank, I walk confidently to the reception and politely state my name, adding: "I have a savings account with you and I would like to know how much is in there."

The clerk turns his eyes to me with a bit of a dirty look, and asks "how come you want to know such a thing all of a sudden?"

This must have been the strangest reaction I have ever had in a bank. Hello, it is my account, so it is my money and I just want to know how much is left.
Of course I understand that this person is not aware of my travelling, that I have just come home from two year of West-African sun and not really have an idea of what to do with my future. This knowledge is very important to me.

Then it dawned on me. He was looking at my hair. I forgot that my hair was still long. It was clean though, I had taken a shower and I am totally refreshed.

I had no idea that such a superficial fact would bring such negative behaviour to people, I was really shocked. That moment, I decided that I will definitely need a hair cut to get a proper job, better not to leave anything to chance. Ridiculous.

It is only after insulting me, that the clerk asked for my ID.

Shit, in Belgium you need your Id with you all the time, I am not used to that anymore. Ok, this was very naive of me, to come to the bank, claiming an account by only stating your name and not bringing your identity card. That the bank doesn't allow me to access my account without any identification, I agree with that completely.
So I smile sheepishly to the bank clerk, explain him the situation and turn to come back another day.

At that moment, the clerk's prejudice is probably confirmed, I must have been a long haired no-good who wanted to steal money from a good citizen's account. Well done Mr. Clerk, keep the scruffy looking people from soiling your carpet.

Link: Another blog entry on discrimination towards long haired men (by Ronalfy)


But there I was. Around 4 PM we landed in Brussels Airport and it felt good to be back home. The airport hadn't changed much so I was fast to collect my luggage and move to the train station.

When we were flying over Spain, I noticed that they had perfect weather. Very sunny and just a small cotton cloud here or there. But Brussels: grey. Grey as Gandalf, unbelievable.

Not very motivating, knowing that I came from Ghana in the full raining season and over there still the weather was more pleasant than this. But it just couldn't break the happiness I felt inside.

Finally, home.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011


This is it, I'm off to Belgium!

Because of the civil war going on in Libya, of course no way that I could get an Afriqiyah flight. Too bad, their service has been good enough for me and the price is more than reasonable.

Second option: Royal Air Maroc.
Service? Below average in my opinion.

It is nice that the ticket was rather 'good market' and that I was allowed to take two suitcases along, but the friendliness of the staff was purely below standards.

While checking in at the Kotoka Airport, I noticed that crew members were using a digital camera to take snapshots of everybody's passport. It looked highly unprofessional and even (dare I say it?) privacy-invading.
I don't fool myself, I know that airlines need a lot of passenger's information for 'security's sake'. But using a stupid, cheap photo camera to take a picture of the private information written in my passport? Are you people dumb? What happens to the information, do you just send it by email over the internet? Do you make sure that nobody can steal the camera or makes a copy of the memory card?

Where I was standing, in front of me where two simple stewards (not even part of the checkin crew), taking passports from everybody, flipping the booklet open, getting a stupid Aldi-camera out of their pocket, making a snaphot of the crucial information and moving on to the next passenger.
When it was my turn and I questioned them on the stupidity of this precaution, all I heard was: "other airlines have sophisticated machines to do it at the check in bay, but we don't. We really need your information on the camera or else we can't allow you on board."

I was shocked.
So it was taking my chance in crappy security or... no fly.

But there is more...

Once boarded the plane, we were all sitting three by three, noticing that only have of the plane was being used. Rows and rows of empty seats were behind us. I was sitting between two nice, but big, fellows, and struggling for some breathing space, I moved to one of the empty rows only to be stopped by one of the flight attendants with a strong: "No, these seats are not commercialised".

After take off, it was clear that the crew preferred to use those empty rows for themselves. It was 5AM and they apparently deserved a nap. Great opportunity for yours truly to claim one of the rows as his own bed.

Changing planes in Casablanca was not a big deal. Only, there was no water for sale (or even for free) in the whole airport. Plenty of alcohol in the duty free shops, but no water and the restaurant would not open until noon time.

Once aboard the connecting flight to good old Brussels (woohoo!), it was lunch time. And here is my final complaint: Why would a steward ask me 'chicken or fish', if she would give me fish anyway, disregarding what I would answer?

So, here we go:
S    - "Chicken or Fish?"
me - "Chicken please"
Steward hands me the package.
I check the package and notice that it has the symbol of a fish on top.
me - "Excuse me, is this fish?"
S    - "Yes, the chicken is finished."
me - "I am allergic to fish."
S    - "Sorry, the chicken is finished."

I look at my neighbour, a friendly Moroccan lady who helped me practice my French, and she shrugged her shoulders in a gesture of 'they are always like that'.

So I had a bit of pasta and a dry bread roll for lunch.

Oh, and no movie whatsoever during the whole flight, only that stupid blue screen filled with some statistics of the temperature outside and the distance to the destination, and you can't even turn it off when you are tired of it.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

To Norway, or not to Norway?

Megumi has decided to move to Norway for a scholarship. I have two options now, or I follow her and try to mingle into Norwegian society, or I can stick to the original plan, move to Belgium and have peace with the fact that we won't see each other often for the next two years.

It took me quite a while of doubting, but in the end I choose for the original plan. My savings are almost finished and in my position, the chances are simply higher to find a job in Belgium than in Norway. Crap, I hate reality. Why couldn't she get admitted to a Belgian university?

Well anyway, it gives me the opportunity of visiting Oslo, and I will probably find some cheap flights during the holidays.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Going back home

Illustration taken from
The Special Parent
Well, I made it. After two years of staying in Ghana, it is finally time to go back home.

Did I miss Belgium? Yes, not only because I wanted to be close to family and loved ones again, or being able to speak my mother tongue, but mostly because I had the feeling that I sometimes was sticking out like a sore thumb.

In general, Ghanaian people are very nice and I made a lot of friends over the years. But there really are situations that I just can't grasp. Or, even worse, the opposite, that people don't understand my reaction or ignore me.

Hearing "yes, but you are white" as an explanation for being treated differently than the rest, is very confronting. I never liked this situation (there for the illustration: "the nail that sticks out, gets hammered down").

Therefore I hope that I will finally be relieved of this discrimination and find peace at home again.
Also, training people all this time made me hungry for a technical job again, I hope to find something to my satisfaction back in Europe.

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