Monday, 26 October 2015

My Weekend in Pictures - New Faces and Places

Welcome back! I hope you had a sublime weekend. We had a pretty good one ourselves. :) This is how it went down.

Kayla and I spent the greater part of Friday indoors. I still have a sore throat and we've been struggling to get over this flipping cold. It's been three weeks since we've all been healthy... Sighs. Anyway, Friday's photos are of the sunrise, Kayla playing and some random things we did and saw during the day (including drinking this AMAZING flavoured tea Jan found at our local grocery store).

Saturday morning brought on some shopping. We needed some more warm clothes for Kayla, because she suddenly had this hectic growth spurt and most of her pants are suddenly too short. :P We also got some warm jackets for the winter. After that, we went home for lunch and then went exploring in our area. We found a great park and some awesome buildings, and the walk was awesome.

On Sunday, we met the South African folks at CentrO. It was awesome to be able to chat to people in our own language for a change! We dined at the Pfannkuchenhaus and just walked around for a bit after that, before we went home and chilled. Christmas markets are being put up everywhere!! #excited

Sunday was also the end of daylight savings time, which is still a weird concept to us.

Here are the photos.

That's it from me for today. Have a good week, folks!


Friday, 23 October 2015

Drawing Challenge Week 6

Yeah. It's been a while. :P

I've mentioned in the past that I'm very obsessive. I have these thought spirals that I get into and can't get out of. I obsess about stuff constantly and it makes it difficult for me to focus on anything else. These days, the obsessive mulling in my mind have been getting progressively worse. I mean, it's been the move to Germany, finding a permanent place to live, rebuilding our lives, getting ready for Kay's 2nd birthday and Christmas, publishing my new book and NaNoWriMo, only to name some of it.

This is why I resumed the drawing challenge. I find that doodling helps me focus. I literally leave the drawing journal open on the kitchen table and draw for a few minutes while waiting for the kettle to boil, go on with my day, and draw again when I'm passing through the kitchen.

Drawing is an incredible way to focus for me. Not only can I concentrate much better during the rest of the day, but my drawing challenge progresses at the same time. Two birds. Also, this doodle-thing helps me even more. It's just random patterns, but somehow, my focus doubles while I'm drawing them (plus, it's a lot of fun!). So you'll be seeing a lot of these,

I made two fine-liner doodle sketches this week. The first one on Monday / Tuesday and the second on Wednesday / Thursday. There will be more next week. Hopefully. :P

Hope this gets you drawing again too.

Have a good weekend!


Wednesday, 21 October 2015

The German Chronicles - Why We Decided To Immigrate

This wasn't some overnight, half-baked scheme. Oh no. Years went into this endeavour of ours. Years.

You see, my brother in law left South Africa in the year Jan and I got married (2008). He quit his job and set out to London a month later, just following his gut. I've always admired him for just doing it and not looking back. It isn't an easy thing, just packing up and leaving, but he did it and made it work. 

About a year after we got married, Jan and I decided that we wanted to go too. There are various reasons for this decision now, but at the time, it was a general kind of thing. There was some political turbulence around that time and it scared us. (Africa is always in a state of political turbulence, no matter which side of the Equator you look, known fact. :P) Make no mistake, we love South Africa. We grew up there, we speak two of the 11 languages, we knew how things worked. The people are our people. The food and traditions are our food and traditions. This was our entire circle of reference. 

But the other side of the coin can be found in news and statistics. We personally know so many people who have been victims of crime and, of those, many of the crimes were violent. We know too many people who struggle to find work. We know many people who have been touched by corruption. I could list a lot more here, but I won't. Google. It knows. 

The point is that neither of us had ever been out of South Africa, but we wanted to go. 

Unfortunately, it wasn't that easy. To leave South Africa (even on vacation) you need visas, and around the time my brother in law left, getting visas became increasingly more difficult. Nowadays, getting a visa almost always means that you found a job in another country and your new work is sponsoring your visa. Sure, there are other things that help. If you have a masters degree or a large amount of money to invest, for example, getting to your new country of residence will be much easier. We had neither.

Some time passed. We looked for job opportunities here and there, but there was nothing really desperate about our search. Also, said search was only contained to English speaking countries, because neither of us could speak anything but Afrikaans and English.

Vacationing in London and Europe made us look harder again. I mean, have you seen it? We were so star struck by the charm of the first world that we could barely contain our excitement. So more effort went into finding work and educating ourselves about how the visa processes worked for various countries. 

There was actually an occasion where a London based company was very interested in hiring Jan, but couldn't help with the visa sponsoring part, because they only get a limited amount of visas to sponsor per year and had already reached their limit. After this, there were a few more 'almosts', but never really anything solid. 

The main thing in our way was that Jan was technically on a junior level in his line of work. He'd been moved to different departments in the same company a time or two, which meant he was doing entry level work, but his salary had grown due to years of employment. So, when companies wanted x-years of work experience, he had the amount of years down, but lacked the experience when it came to the actual work and duties. 

When Kayla was born, we became desperate. We didn't want to raise her in a crime ridden country, because you want the best for your kids, but this wasn't the only reason. 

By this time, Jan had put a lot of effort into growing in his line of work. He'd gone on courses and learned as much as possible, and he enjoyed the challenge. The specific software he works with is massive in the rest of the world, but dying in South Africa. And for this reason, his company had only one client left where this software was being used. If this client were to be lost (which isn't so far fetched), Jan wouldn't have a job to return to. With a kid, that isn't a promising prospect. 

And since there is such an abundance of people doing what Jan does in the rest of the world, visa sponsorships are rare. Why would you bring in a guy from South Africa, if there are so many qualified people in your own neighbourhood? 

So he started applying for jobs everywhere. If we couldn't speak the language, we could learn. And it wasn't without results. There were 'almosts' on various occasions. There was a massive 'almost' in Canada (in the week before we left for Germany), one in Australia and one in the Netherlands, to name a few. 

In the end, we found this opportunity in Germany and we grabbed it with both hands.

Obviously, there's a lot more to getting a visa than I mention here. This depends on the country you want to enter and how you plan to spend your time there. I could try to do a post on how to get a visa if you want to read that. This particular post is just to try and explain why we left, because a lot of people don't really understand. So I hope it clarifies some points. :)

Have a good day, folks!


Monday, 19 October 2015

My Weekend In Pictures - Exploring Mülheim

Hi there! I hope you had a good weekend.

As the title of this post suggests, we went exploring. For a moment, it wasn't raining, which meant we could venture outside. Shocking, I know. We didn't have a real plan, just to have a look at what we could find around the city centre and if there is a nice park in the area. 

In the times we weren't exploring, we were home, spending family time together and when we weren't doing that... Well, a certain someone, i.e. me, was binge watching Doctor Who. At this point in time, I'm going to take a moment to state clearly that I like Peter Capaldi as the Doctor. Twelve rocks (though the sunglasses, I don't dig...)! Also, Missy is hilarious! I might be run over by the next Whovian who meets me on the street for saying that, but I absolutely love her and what they've done with the character. I like her more than Clara, that's for sure. #bringbackdonnanoble

OK. Fan-girl moment done. 

Jan also got this new game for his Oculus Rift, called 'Keep talking and nobody explodes'. Lemme tell you, folks, it was intense. We tried out this game for the first time on Saturday night and it's really nerve-racking. Basically, one person wears the Rift, while the other person (or people) hold on to bomb diffusing manuals. So the guy with the Rift on sees a bomb with various puzzles and describes to the manual-wielding people what he sees. Those people find the puzzles (the manual holds the key to solving them) and tell the guy in the Rift how to solve each one, which ultimately diffuses the bomb. 

Now, I can talk rocks into eroding, but I'm not good with any kind of pressure. I struggle with Jenga, for goodness sake, because the thought of the tower collapsing makes me shake with fear. In this scenario, I had to help diffuse bombs! Man. The pressure was on, but we did it! A lot of bombs were stopped from exploding because of me and Jan. :) (Disclaimer : nothing but pixels were harmed in the testing of this game.)

Anyway, sightseeing. 

We found some pretty amazing places in the city centre, including the old Post Office Museum (we'll definitely go inside sometime) and some amazing interactive sculptures. 

The great find of the weekend was Oberhausen Ruhr Park, which is home to the coolest kids-playground I've ever seen. One moment we were still traipsing through a forest, and the next, we were at the foot of a chidren's paradise. Kayla had an absolute ball.


I'll be back again with a German Chronicles post, I promise. Sorry, my life has been kind of strange lately, but things have to get back on track again at some point. :P I've also got some other things happening behind the scenes, like the NaNoWriMo challenge in November. More on that here. I hope to share some of the things with you soon.

Until then, have a good week, everyone!