Tag Archives: Europe

Series for ladies to take your English to the next level

I think, we all started with Disney cartoons. The question remains: what do we watch next in order to get our English more fit for the next challenge, be it a semester abroad or a career start in a new country? I collected some ideas, which series and long films one can enjoy WITHOUT subtitles during the Christmas break depending on your English level:

Beginners: Disney films, Vampire Diaries, Friends, Desperate Housewives, Smallville

Pre-Intermediate: How I met your Mother, Charmed, Big Bang Theory, Supernatural, Doctor Who, Sherlock, Lost, Merlin

Intermediate: Project Runway, all old series (like Agatha Christie’s Poirot), Gossip Girl, try Lord of the Rings, Outlander, The Last Kingdom, Secret Diary of a Call Girl (yeah, its here because I find her accent a bit difficult)

Advanced: House of Cards, Game of the Thrones

And make sure you skip subtitles to go deeper into the language jungle 😉

Your Russianladyabroad

The smiling habit

I know, I know that many Europeans and especially Americans consider Russian people quite morose. We do believe that you may smile when you want to and not when it is comfortable to others. Nevertheless, I spent a lot of time in Europe and got used to the “professional smiling”. But that one shocked me for real.

That was a Russian guy who moved to Europe about 10 years ago. He had a nice job, a nice face and nice clothes. The problem was..he was smiling. All the time. I saw his brand white teeth through the whole conversation. He was smiling while I was asking a question. He was smiling while answering my question and after he would answer my question.

Did he do an operation? Does he have any problems with the muscles of his mouth? Is something wrong with my makeup?

-Ivan, did you study in the US?

-Yeah, I did!

-Now I get it..

Dear all, the gestures and the facial expressions are sometimes even more important than knowing the language of the person. Try to pay attention to how people look like when they are interacting and to do it the same way – this will help your international career a lot.

Sincerely yours,

Russianladyabroad

International work in an international world. Part III: Why a Blue Card could be your ticket to a new life

Since the moment I saw a lady in the German Embassy in Russia getting her working visa so easily, I also wanted to get one. At least, to feel the same respect she was treated with. Of course, she has been invited by one of the largest international companies, which are looking for smart people for specific projects all over the world. Just one year later, I became a Blue Card holder with the Germany as my first destination. But what does this Blue Card actually mean?

  • Working where you wish. There are countries with a high unemployment rate and with the low ones. Countries with a high employment rates like Germany are focused on attracting the best experts in technical, medical and innovative fields, which leads to a more open visa regime. In other countries like Italy, the unemployment rates are higher. If you are a foreigner from a non-EU country, the Blue Card if your pass to work in Europe and to change employers and countries in a very flexible way, as long as you meet the BC conditions.
  • Taking your family with you. The Blue Card holders are often highly skilled professionals who are be found by large companies and offered a contract in the EU. Even though it is usually a limited contract, one receives an opportunity to move to the new place with the family and to get (often, depending on the country) free integrational and language courses.
  • Helping yourself out. Here comes a small hint: the visa legislation related to Blue Cards differs a bit in European countries, but you should read yours even before you get to touch your very own Blue Card. Why? Because, for instance, in Germany, if your contract expired or was cancelled after 1 full year, you are eligible to an unemployment insurance AND a visa for the job search (3 months with the Blue Card + 3 months usually offered extra) for the whole period of your insurance (which is 6 months if you worked at least 1 year).
  • Getting the permanent residence permit faster. Yes, this is also possible for Blue Card holders with some knowledge of the local language. With time, you will be able to apply for a permanent residence permit (incl. your closest family – wife and children) and stay in the country as long as you wish. Just keep in mind that there is usually am difference between the citizenship and permanent residence permit in a form that you should stay primarily within the country – whenever you want to move within Europe again, have a look at the current legislation 😉

Team culture vs. individuals-driven innovations

Some time ago, I attended an Assessment Centre of a major energy company, and the thoughts about it would not let me go. The negative part of my personal feedback was: “We need innovations, and you are not creative, because you did not propose any solution to the problem”. Our group was the only one to complete the task correctly though.

Choosing between different directions for innovation is not only the task for one’s creativity, but this is an issue of the right facilitation and personnel management. Most companies have enough talented people to bring innovations forward but concentrate all the efforts on finding the solutions somewhere else instead of motivating employees to bring ideas forward within the company. Moreover, while recruiters are paying attention to the knowledge of the “right” (well-known and certified) methodologies, the ability to listen carefully to others and to ask the right questions is never in the middle of the interview.

I went through many modern innovation approaches focusing on customers, internal processes, team-related brainstorming – but did not find any good concepts related to individual intellectual strength of employees. Let’s say, innovation is not business at first – it’s personal.

Many companies are strongly team building-oriented, while innovation-focused structured work of less social employees is underrated. The goal of the team management often becomes to make employees identical enough so they could work as an “effective team”. The amount of emotional energy every employee should invest in this theatrical masterpiece of acting like a “good team member” instead of his own work and relationships with the clients is not considered. This becomes especially visible in teams, which have only few introverts, who need to adapt to the “team culture” of others. Meanwhile, when did the “good team player” become the only way of distinguishing the “good employee”? A solid introverted scientist can be of more help in an innovation process than ten certified Innovation Managers can. I am talking here about employees, who are too shy or just uncomfortable to speak up for their ideas. In this case, their y).

Why do so few methodologies focus on what the INDIVIDUALS can and so many – on what THE TEAM can? Why do employers spend so much time creating “team cultures”, candidates are sitting with books on “how to become a person everybody will love during the Assessment Center”, team members are concentrated on the team brainstorming while competing behind each other’s backs. Excuse me, who is going to work in this structure on the innovative strategies and when?

Why do not we try to collect different ideas from the employees themselves one-by-one and then analyze them, as we do with the customers’ opinions? Why not to make our own talented people to our internal customers in the innovation process?

We do not use the individual strengths – we tolerate them. And later on we try to change the individual in order to be able to manage him more effectively. Similar people in larger groups are easier to coordinate. This toleration is a disease, as what we really need is to learn, how to integrate individual strengths instead and make use of them.

We also lack the ability to observe. When I read my non-marketing-related newsfeed on LinkedIn, 80% of posts are about people themselves (I was nominated..I visited…I achieved) and 20% declare the same in a more polite form “WE” (My team..my company..). There are only few to none posts about achievements of colleagues and partners, which mostly come from executives and headhunters. To survive, one should be self-centered, self-confident and very loud. The team culture in many companies does not motivate people to share innovative ideas with each other, as it is more of a co-existence culture under the conditions of a high competition within the “team”. Nobody is willing to share more than is required, even less are employees motivated to ask other team members about their opinions.

In my perception, the reason why many innovative startups are showing a sustainable fast growth is that they are small enough so the employees would use the individual strengths of each other and have less time for the process management. You MUST get to know others and learn their opinion to survive. The ability to listen and make others speak becomes crucial.

As the speed requirements for innovations processes increase, we need new concepts concentrating on making people speak up rather than making their opinions “acceptable” to the team. In the world of diversity, one should learn not only to accept differences in minds, characters, and working cultures – but also to benefit from them.

Kindly yours,

Russianladyabroad

Business dinner in Europe

As I told you before, dining culture is extremely important, if you wish to progress in your career in Europe. Unlike casual lunches with colleagues, described in the previous article, dinners might be more of a problem.

In France, the main problem for me was that all the waiters wanted to speak only French, even though they were perfectly able to speak English. Just because they love their native language. One might look strange, showing with his hands that he would like to have a dish with a swimming fish during a business dinner.

In Spain and Italy, I had difficulties to hear my colleagues, because many good restaurants are very loud.

In Netherlands, I had to go for some business breakfast to a cafe next to the trade fair building. Honestly saying, I was ready to cry while paying for my simple “bio” croissant with ham and a small cup of coffee. It was the most precious croissant in my life..

In Germany, you can eat well for a small price or eat so-so for a very high price. It depends. In Hamburg, for instance, one can find 11 Michelin restaurants, and some more, which had a Michelin star before and still have a good kitchen (but much lower prices). As in Germany, some professions require having dinners and lunches with your clients, many companies pay the bills back to their employees if they invited an important client to a dinner – therefore, feel free to accept an invitation from your German business partners.

If you are looking for a very special place to eat with your clients or partners, I would opt for this website:

https://www.viamichelin.de/web/Suchen_Restaurants/

Is will not only show you the Michelin restaurants with a very special kitchen (a good place for a very special date, a proposal, a crucial contract-related business meeting), but also very good restaurants with the approximate price ranges for a meal.

As food is a brilliant opportunity to unite with people and progress in business, I wish you to find just the right place for your occasion.

Kindly yours,

Russianladyabroad

 

 

Why confident talented Russians get fired in Europe

When working on this article, I thought I would write a list of reasons, why talented Russians (and guys from CIS-countries with the similar mentality) get fired in Europe already during the probation period.

Let’s take Germany, a usual job not involving IT or scientific research, where people will forgive you whatsoever if you do the job. The main reason why Russians get fired is that we are UNSOCIAL. Unsocial according to the European standards.

If you are Russian, you know for sure, how our satirist Zadornov made everybody laugh by telling, how people smile 24/7 in the US. If you work in Europe at a position where you see people at least twice a day – congrats, smiling is the easiest thing you are going to need. Here is my personal list, why you may be considered unsocial (and therefore get a label “you are not good for the team spirit” and get fired) while working, for instance, in Germany:

  1. You don’t spend the dinner with your colleagues. You just wanted to go shopping during the lunch break to have some minutes off from talking? Forget it. In Germany, people expect you to eat with them every damn time they want to eat together. Because you all are a team! The worst is, even if they eat somewhere very expensive and not tasty, you are still invited in an obligatory manner.
  2. You don’t drink coffee with your colleagues. We all know days, when you count minutes to get a project done and all your deadlines are burning. In fact, I have such days at least 3 times a week. Buuut….when your colleagues invite you for a cup of coffee, you go and drink a cup of coffee, even if it’s your 7th for today. Because you are a damn good team member.
  3. You don’t tell, what you did on the weekend. The question, which is usually asked on Monday, makes me sweat every week. Hmmm…what did I do on the weekend? Had sex with my BF, slept till lunch, watched TV?…Nope, I need a good story and everybody should see, what an interesting person I am. Because I am a damn team member. And I just love telling everybody about my personal life.. Read more

Thought for the day

Ever wondered, why man Europeans have been in so many countries in EU, but still living in hostels? Because they had an InterRail pass and it was affordable!! This is a kind of abo, which allows you to travel with no limits from country to country, from city to city! 5 days during 15 days for EUR only 269, for instance, any city and any EU country. Check it out here! No adverts, just an idea for your next vacation 😉

https://www.interrail.eu/en/interrail-passes/global-pass

Your Russianladyabroad

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