Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Last Minute Panic before Europe!

A few weeks ago I was contacted by a European Company. They informed me that I was shortlisted for a position which I telephonically interviewed for the week prior. Now they wanted me to visit their offices in Luxembourg for a formal interview and to meet with their Director. They will carry the cost of my travel, incidental expenses and accommodation, all I have to do is obtain a Schengen Visa and assist in some of the minor arrangements on my side. It’s all terribly exciting but the practicalities of arranging this two day international trip are proving to be a pain in the ass and the source of some last minute panic!
When I told my husband about this new career opportunity it’s needless to say he shared my excitement. However, being the rational and practical one in our marriage he couldn’t resist asking me if I had done some research on this company’s credentials. In a serious and concerned voice he started interrogating me “What if they are part of some people smuggling syndicate and kidnap you and sell you into the illicit sex trade?” “What if this is a ploy by some group to get you out of South Africa and into Europe? In the last year you have pissed off the Vatican, the Ugandans, the Westboro Baptist Church and countless others!” Noting my husband’s concerns I could only respond by saying that I don’t believe any of the people he had mentioned would spend their time and money on me – an unknown but opinionated blogger from South Africa. I convinced my husband there was no sinister motive or plan transpiring and in the process also convinced myself.
The next day I received an e-mail from the recruiter indicating the dates the Director had available and was instructed to identify dates that convenience me. I did and then came the real problem -trying to find a flight schedule that would facilitate my itinerary. It soon became apparent that there were no direct flights to Luxembourg from South Africa and a layover was inevitable. After scouring many airlines I finally discovered that Air France would be the best option. It was a direct flight (10 and a half hours) to Paris, then a 4 hour layover followed by an hour flight to Luxembourg. The other airlines either had multiple stops or lengthy and complicated layovers or transfers. With this flight schedule I will be spending a total of 22 hours in the air. At least I will be flying business class so it should make my flights moderately comfortable. However, the frequent flyer miles I will accumulate to spend 41 hours in 2 different countries to attend a 4 hour interview and dinner invitation seems a bit excessive. Yet there are many business people that do this every week and I wonder how they cope?
Now that the flights had been sorted the serious matter of the Schengen Visa needed my attention. Having visited the Belgium Consulate’s website it started to seem like a daunting process. They want to know all, require supporting documentation and ask for everything but a DNA sample. I soon realized I would be caught up in red tape and piles of paper. Invitation letter, air tickets, hotel bookings, proof of employment, bank statements, travel insurance and the list goes on and on. Spending a good 3 days requesting, collecting and sorting out paper work I finally have everything they require and plan on submitting the application tomorrow. One problem though, I fly in less than two weeks and they say it could take up to three weeks to be processed and approved. So let’s hope for the best, but I am silently panicking!
All arrangements for my trip seem to be coming together. If all goes well my Visa will be approved in time and I’ll make it onto the plane on the 25th. I am not really sure what to expect. Having been for many job interviews in my adult life I have been exposed to all kinds of interviews and people. I have been asked stupid questions, strange questions and inappropriate questions but manage to learn from all these encounters. However, never have I been flown business class to an international destination for an interview. This should be an interesting experience. The only downside is that I will be visiting two beautiful countries and not have any time to fully appreciate them. I will be spending a total of ten hours stuck in Charles De Gaulle airport in Paris not being allowed to leave. However, I will be getting to see the Eiffel Tower arriving and leaving the country by plane – tragic isn’t it? I will be visiting Luxembourg and may have a little bit more time to site see but not nearly enough as I would have wanted.

If all goes well I will not be kidnapped by some ominous sex trade syndicate as my husband fears, nor will some religious or conservative group I recently criticised on my blog try to take me out. I am going on this trip with an open mind and positive attitude of not ever letting any opportunity pass me by. Who knows I may even get this job!

Till next time.

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swkpboy said...

Well I wish you best of luck. Hope it all works out for the best.

Pierre said...

Thanks swkpbou!

Anonymous said...

Honey, you're not likely to be swallowed up by any illicit sex trading in Luxembourg - it's far too upmarket for that kind of thing! I've been there so I speak from experience. They're very tolerant too, especially of children. I fact I seem to recall my youngest relieveing himself up against the president's wall (he was only 3 at the time!) And the air around the Eiffel Tower is as temperamental as it's creators..you can only see the towere if the weather's good. Enjoy the trip though, and let's look forward to hearing about it when you get back :o)

Pierre said...

Anonymous, I am also sure I'll be fine. Can't wait to see Luxembourg!

yusuf said...

I have seen are some short videos from the movie, and I think you are very good at choosing your blog topic

Hadyn Thomas said...

Glad to see you survived and there was no plot against you, LOL! I think if you had come to England you may have been kidnapped for the sex trade ;-)

Europe is a great place, I am glad to be European. I hope you enjoyed your visit here and you were made to feel welcome.

I love the pink UK passport pic. I have a UK passport but it is certainly not pink, LOL! Where did you find that one?

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