26 February 2013

Steve works as an IT helpdesk employee in Johannesburg

Last year I was looking for a new job in Belgium, this proved to be difficult. After posting my CV on several websites, I suddenly got a phone call from Globaljobbing. They asked me if I was interested in working in South Africa. Of course I immediately was interested and up for the challenge. At first I had my doubts because there are numerous things to think about when taking a big step like this (cancel the house you are renting, say goodbye to family and friends, left my dog behind, get a work permit,…). Now I had a choice to make, or I could not go and wonder the rest of my life how it would have been, or I just go and make the best of it. I choose to go, that was a good choice, I have never regretted it for 1 second.

First I was helped very well by Globaljobbing, from putting up my English CV to helping for preparing the job interview. Afterwards I was helped trough the whole procedure by both the company in Johannesburg and Globaljobbing, to get a work permit, find a place to live, opening a bank account, getting myself a sim card, picking me up at the airport and integrating in South Africa.

All promises were kept, communication went fluently, and I experienced no problems at all. Everything has been set and I was ready for the big leap in the unknown. I was feeling very insecure and nervous on the flight towards Johannesburg, I had so many questions. How will the work be, how will the colleagues be, will I like the country, how about security? So many questions and the answers were waiting for me on the other end of the world.

After landing in Johannesburg, I was picked up by one of the associates. I was warmly welcomed and put at ease immediately. They drove me to my guesthouse, helped me register my sim card, and were transferred to work after a nice resting day. My first day at work I was nervous once again, but this went away very fast because of the young and relaxed atmosphere at work. Colleagues from over the whole world, Germany, the Netherlands, Italy, Venezuela, Belgium, Congo, Cameroon, South Africa, very diverse. All people doing the same job as me, also far away from home, on the adventure. I was immediately accepted and my first weekend they already showed me around the city of Johannesburg.

Johannesburg, Joburg, Jozi! What a huge city for a little Belgian like myself! My first month here was December so I expected it to be difficult with the holidays without family and friends. This was proven not true since most of my colleagues also were here without family and friends so we just celebrated together. Nice BBQ at the swimming pool, with a cold beer and a Christmas hat in 30 degrees C. felt pretty unnatural for me to have a hot Christmas, but that didn’t make it any less fun!

Work was also very nice, it wasn’t to heavy but also not boring, and the possibilities to grow are there in such a big company. After 6 months of working a new customer came to our company. I got a job interview for this new customer and I was immediately accepted. I was with the 3 lucky people who got to travel to the Netherlands for the knowledge transfer. So after 6 months I already got to see my family again!

I got promoted from call centre agent, to the security administration focal point and 4 months later I was promoted to Assistant Team Leader, now I am working hard to get a Team Leader position.

Enough about work now let’s talk about the country and the city Johannesburg. Let’s start with “the big bad city of Johannesburg, where young people have fun and urban legends get mugged” At first I was a bit skeptical regarding Johannesburg with all the horror stories I heard in Belgium. I saw a documentary on the BBC, the city was portrayed as a place where murder and rape happen on every corner of the street. This was so not true, I am living here for now almost 1,5 years, I go where and when that I please, and personally I have never felt unsafe. You can even go to a random person in the streets here and start a conversation, without people looking at you that you are some kind of idiot (like in most European countries). South Africans are very warm, welcoming people. Of course there is a little more crime here then what we are used to, but there is also much more poverty. But the stories I heard are in my opinion heavily exaggerated. As long as you use your brains and don’t hang around in neighborhoods where you have no business being, there is nothing to fear (but that is also the case in the European big cities). For tourists there is little to nothing to see in Johannesburg. But there is plenty of entertainment!.

Very nice big movie theaters, lots of live concerts (Faithless, U2, now even Armin van Buuren). The nightlife in this city is absolutely awesome. South Africans surely know how to party; we all saw that during the World Cup!

During the world cup I picked up some games, Germany – Ghana in Soccer City (Joburg). Afterwards Germany – Serbia in Prot Elizabeth. (Yes I was a Germany fan!). The trip to port Elizabeth really opened my eyes about this country. We almost drove throughout the whole country, we drove 1300 km in one night! Stopped in the middle of nowhere to look at the stars, none of us had ever seen so many stars!

The nicest thing about working and living here is that you can make nice travels for not too much money. Mozambique, Zambia (Victoria Falls), Namibia, Cape Town, Durban, and many more. Now I am already living here for 1,5 years, I live in a nice house in a nice neighborhood, met a nice girlfriend, and just bought a new car. Not once second I have regretted coming here!

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