Sunday, 28th May 2017
I hope it is a good omen that I arrived in Lisbon a second time exactly two years after the first time. Actually, it is because of a job I am now in this beautiful town. My plan was to prepare for Mexico and go there in September this year, but the travel insurance is very expensive in my age and also I am happy, to have a little studio apartment. Though the rent has to be paid even when I am travelling. Therefore, I was looking for a job and as usual during the last ten years I only found one abroad. I arrived 6:15pm Lisbon local time – after a flight of 4:30h.
This time there was neither a need for finding my way by my own nor for looking for an apartment. My employer Teleperformance has an employment service, which picks up people at the airport as well as apartments, where they get a room. The value for the room (rent) is withheld from the salary. Anyway, what sounds great is sometimes not really as good as it sounds. The guy, who met the new employees at the airport did not have a “Teleperformance” sign. Though I did not know, that it was him. I was exactly at the meeting point named, but he was some meters from the meeting point and had no idea, that I was one of the people, he should pick up. After a while I was anyway going to and asking him, if he was from Teleperformance. Luckily it was right. I was the only female among the guys he had to welcome, but we were waiting for another female – flying in from Germany, who did not show up. It did delay us for almost one hour. All of us newcomers were placed in different apartments in different parts of the town. I was first out. The guy was going with me to my room at the apartment where I had to sign lots of papers, e.g. the lease. He also explained the most important things for me.
The room is not as I expected. It is not cosy at all. All the furniture is white and the bed has a very thin mattress. It is the kind of, which you might have for guests or children, but it is not good to sleep on it day after day for an adult. There was not one hanger in the wardrobe. After he left I had my first contacts with the flat mates. There were two girls and a guy from Netherlands. They also told me, that there is a French girl living here, too. I asked them for an open supermarket, reminding them, that it was Sunday and they told me, that there is only one, which closes 9pm, all the others close earlier. It was already 9pm, though I decided to go to the pizza restaurant I had seen in the street. The name of that restaurant was “telepizza”. Mainly they deliver pizzas, but there were also tables and chairs, where one can sit and eat. I ordered a medium pizza, but could not eat all of it even my last meal has been the one on the plane around 4pm. I had a pastel de nata as well. Therefore, I had to leave a bigger slice. Unfortunately, the pastel de nata was not fresh. – By the way I also had been told, that the location of the apartment is great and it only is a 30-min. walk to the city centre (the old city).
I unpacked the first evening and put the most of my clothes in the drawer. I was very happy about the chest with drawers, but would have been happier for some hangers as well. I was to bed around midnight. I did not get a lot of sleep. It is so noisy for the airplanes and the traffic. It seems the planes have their way into the airport just above our house. Furthermore, I had heartburn – for the late pizza I guess, what took a lot of sleep for me.
Monday, 29th May 2017
What a day! I was up around 6:30am and had a shower, but did not have any breakfast – for the reason see above. I left the apartment 7:30am and should have been at my new working place in time or a little early. It also was easy to find the Metro station “Rato”, but well there, there was a problem with the signal system and no metro was going. Though I was up again and tried to find a bus to the Metro station where I had to change to another line. I found it out by asking people at the bus stop (the 738 is going from Rato Metro station to Saldanha Metro station), but the right bus was not showing up, therefore I decided to take a taxi. I won’t be late my first time at the new job, I hoped. It was not so easy to stop a taxi, but finally at 8:30am I have got one. It was a nice Portuguese guy, who understood my goal, but could only give explanations in Portuguese. I told him, that I have to be at Teleperformance at 9am and ask him if he can make it. He was not sure, but at the end he left me there 8:55am. He got a small tip of me and we both were happy. – During the trip I was looking for the traffic signs and saw one for the airport. I thought, we have to go that direction, because the employer told me, that it is not far from the airport. Therefore I showed the taxi driver my new backpack with the name “Teleperformance” on it, thinking he might have understood me wrong. He understood as well as he explained as good as he could, that he has not to follow the street to the airport. The whole trip was for 9:45 EUR.
Even it was our first day with our employer, we had to be there a whole working day, that means starting at 9am we had to be there until 6pm, with an hour off for lunch. We also had two short breaks. One time 15 minutes and one time 10 minutes. The training, which we started with, was interrupted by a “house seeing” and by that way we also became known for our colleagues. The first day we had two trainers: Rafaela and Deolinda – both Portuguese women, who speak German very well (they grew up in Germany with Portuguese parents). This day we only learned and talked about the security policy. The training for the job will start the upcoming day. We should also had made a test, but there was not time enough and it was postponed to the upcoming morning. I hoped, I will remember all the necessary things the other day. The time was becoming short by the teamwork we had to do during the day, but every group had to learn and talk about two subjects, though each team member was working with one subject. Fortunately I informed me about the subject my partner had, because I had to finish our summary. A lawyer of our employer had asked for him and a girl, too, for helping them to get registered in the community they have got their apartments. For us, who were placed in Lisbon City it was easier. The lawyer or his assistant could do it for us. By the way we all have almost one hour to come to our work place, a girl needs two. She also has a lot of changes to do.
There are lots of interesting people in our group – people going to work abroad are always special as I told you before (see Ireland and Malta). One of us is a Belgian guy. He has a strong accent and his German is not as good as a native, but after the interview he had, he was welcomed to work with the German market. One of the guys had been volunteering for two month on Cuba before and the Belgium guy had been hitchhiking from Belgium to Thailand. Another guy also hiked a lot in his still short life. A few in our group have typical German names like Natalie, Elisabeth and Maximilian, but there are also others with names as beautiful as Dolores, Isabella and Deniz (this last one is a guy). I still have problems with the names. We are only ten newcomers, but even I remember the names, I cannot find the person for it. One of them – also a girl – likes photography like me. Four of them are from Austria.
I was going home by Metro from the station “Oriente”. Actually, I did not see, where the Metro station is and was looking around. A nice elderly man asked me, what I was looking for in Portuguese, he did not speak English, but found a younger woman for me, who did. I was going by the red line (Vermelho) to the Metro station Saldanha, where I changed to the yellow line (Amarelo) and was going to “Marquês de Pombal”, where I applied with my form with the “urgent” marked for getting a monthly card for the public transport, called VIVA. When it was my turn – I had to wait for a long time, the officer at the box had taken my form as well as filled in relatively changed, what I had put on the wrong line. She told me, that I can pick up the card the upcoming day from 3pm. From the Metro station Marquês de Pombal it was only one more stop to the end of the line and I was walking the distance instead. On the way, close to the place Marquês de Pombal I had a sandwich in a snack bar. I was tired of the hills and the cobblestoned pavements. They are not good for my left knee.
Tuesday, 30th May 2017
I was really early up, because I was afraid that the Metro will not work this day either and I will not spend 10 EUR for a taxi again. We actually do not get a real salary for the first month, because of our training. That is quite unusual – actually I never have had that situation before, but I agreed to it for the free room. I was already at 8:05am at Teleperformance Oceanario (TP) and had to wait for nearly one hour. That did not really matter, the weather was nice and I enjoyed the sun.
The things we have to learn are not so very hard to learn. I made the test with 93% the first time. I could have made it with 100%, but I became unsure about one answer by the way the trainer explained it the day before respectively she only told us “it may be or may not be”. Some of the younger once made it just under the necessary 80% and had to do it a second time. Another one is not good at all in formal English. She got help of a trainer to answer. I think that is not the way to do it. All of us were expected to know English well.
The rest of the day we spent with our trainer Deolinda. It was a mix of Power Point Presentation, which she read for us or we had to read as well as of games like drawing animals and finding out, which not existing profession it is illustrating, e.g. an elephant teacher. I had to illustrate a giraffe cleaner. At the end of the day she asked us to tell her, what we think about her. There were lots of different answers and she told us then, that we are the way we see her, e.g. I told her she is competent, another girl told her she is colourful etc. We also got instructions for the upcoming day, when the trainers themselves will be in training.
Most people of our group went with me to the Metro station Marquês de Pombal to leave their form for a VIVA-card. Another guy and me did know the way to the Metro station Cabo Ruivo and we were going from there by the red line, changing to the yellow line. Arrived at Marquês de Pombal, two girls were going directly to the first point of sale of the Metro. I had to call them back, because I learned the day before that there were different points of sale if one apply for an “urgent” delivery or not. Though I showed them, where to go and also queued to get my card. They have a great service there. While queuing, an officer is coming looking for the people to get their ready cards. One has only to queue for one time for getting the card and loading it for the first time.
Afterwards some of us where following Deniz to his new home – close to the Metro station “Parque”, where we met his flat mates and had a beer, but me – I cannot drink any alcoholic beverage without have eaten just before. I will get drunk immediately. He is living in a much nicer place than most of us – in a residence. All the others were drinking “Doppel Bock”, but that is the name of the beer, not very strong. I apologized, that I cannot drink without having eaten and left early. I felt lonely in the group. On my way home, just some meters from that apartment, I had a Doner box. I think the cook and I misunderstood each other, because I did not get any salad. The Doner box was for 4 EUR and not very cheap, I bought them in Hamburg, Germany for 3 respectively 3.50 EUR, but that was years ago, of course. I was walking all the way home. Before I fell asleep I was on “duolingo” for a while, trying to learn some Portuguese.
It was a bad and noisy night for me. My room has the window to the street and I heard a lot of cars as well as the airplanes. I had the window open and also the blinds, it made the noise coming in, but I have to, otherwise the air is getting so bad during the night, that I have problems to wake up in the morning.
Wednesday, 31st May 2017
I was early up again, even I only slept for three hours last night. I was in very good time at TP again and waiting in the sunshine for the others of our group. They came one after one. This day we were with other agents on the floor, called side by side. I chose “Celeste”, a Portuguese woman around the 50, who had lived in Germany for years. She is a very nice person and I made a really good choice!
After lunch a supervisor of the group, we will work with, took us out in the sun and was explaining things for us, but when we needed computers she was in a room with us – with windows. It is situated on the side of the canteen. She was telling for us, who to become a good seller. There are five points to work after and we were talking about them. Julia, the supervisor, was asking me if I feel comfortable with the computer, though I told her, that I love to work with computers and I am very good in using different software. I also told her, that I finally had got a “letter of reference” from my last employer – the assignments as an extra for TV shows and movies does not count. She told me, that I can forward that document to her.
After work I followed some of the other newcomers to the Metro station “Oriente” and the shopping mall “Vasco de Gama”. It is actually more comfortable to walk that way than to the Metro station “Cabo Ruivo”, which is on a hill. I was window seeing at the shopping mall by myself and also was in one and another shop, buying things for my new, second home and also topped up the phone card, we had got for free. It has a Portuguese phone number and that is the reason, why I use it. Anyway we newcomers use WhatsApp for news and gatherings. I had a meal in one of the restaurants there. It was chicken biff, French fries and salad. I could not eat all of it. They have very big portions here in Portugal – even in our canteen. By the way I have my lunch every working day in the canteen for a price of 2.50 EUR. It is not the very best restaurant, but I think I get to know a little of the Portuguese cuisine by it and for that price I cannot cook a meal. I found out, that in the Portuguese cuisine neither a lot of spices nor a lot of salt is used.
My legs were so tired on the way home. The floor is so hard in the shopping centre as well is the pavement. Anyway I made it without a taxi. Even I was tired I wrote my file in my notebook. My legs even hurt a lot, they are doing it since the evening before and it has got worse, the left one hurts most. I have difficulties in the stairs, especially walking down the stairs. I thought it was the cold and wet weather we have had in Stockholm last winter, but it seems not to be the reason why I get pain in my knee. I also have problems with heartburn again. I do not take the medicine, because I need to get the vitamines for my body. In the morning I drink Nescafé, what gives me less heartburn, but I have to be careful what I eat in the evening.
Continue to Portugal, Lisbon, June 2017