Warsaw Natolin

Friday, April 21, 2006

Friday 21 April. "Litwo! Ojczyzno moja! Ty jesteś jak zdrowie", begins the most famous of all Polish poems, Adam Mickiewicz’s ‘Pan Tadeusz’. "Oh Lithuania! My fatherland! You are like health".

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Jeudi 23 mars. Winter is definitely dying fast !

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Vendredi 3 mars / Samedi 5 mars. Après une soirée nationale russe qui restera dans les mémoires (concert de 2 heures d'un choeur de Smolensk suivi pour des danses endiablées tout au long de la nuit), nous sommes allés jouer au booling à la Galeria Mokotow. Booling for Natolin pour célébrer les anniversaires respectifs d’Anna, Marius et Danilo ! Ce fut de nouveau très agréable de passer ces moments forts ensemble, surtout dans cette période où les échéances se précisent. Ainsi, dans le cadre de mon cours Doing Buisiness in CEE, je dois rédiger un essai de 5000 mots en anglais consacré à la réforme du cadre réglementaire en Roumanie concernant le climat des investissements, à la mise en oeuvre de la privatisation, ainsi qu'à la politique du gouvernement à l'égard des PME. Beau programme. Mais il est loin d'être aisé d'accéder à de l'information pertinente. La transparence ne semble pas faire partie du paysage de ce pays. Aujourd'hui dimanche nous partons en study trip à Bruxelles où meetings et conférences nous attendent.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Samedi 25 février. Soirée billard/bière pour rester sur la lancée de la soirée belge de la veille. A vrai dire, la journée était studieuse à l'origine, puisque j'avais cours de Competition Policy and Market Regulation jusqu’à 18h. Je pensais regarder tranquillement un film avant d'aller me coucher. Puis, changement de programme : certains souhaitaient aller au resto, d'autres prendre un pot. Je décidai alors me joindre à ce groupe qui devait partir vers 20h30. Entre temps, je souhaitais jouer rapidement les derniers matchs de billard olympique qu’il me restait à jouer (entre 19h et 20h30). Lorsqu’ils partirent finalement vers 21h15, je n’avais pas encore fini de jouer. On m’indiqua alors l’adresse du resto français situé non loin de notre campus. Nous prenions alors rendez-vous pour un pot en milieu de soirée. Seulement voilà, ce n’est que vers minuit/1h que notre billard/bière épique est parvenu à son terme. Nous avions manifestement quelques difficultés à rentrer les boules. Et plus nous jouions, plus nous étions capables du pire comme du meilleur. Fatigué, je suis alors aller me coucher pour récupérer quelque peu. Mais, aujourd’hui dimanche, il faut déjà s’y remettre car les échéances se rapprochent dangereusement et la somme de travail à abattre n’a hélas diminué que modérément ces derniers temps. En avant !

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Vendredi 24 février. Malgré un programme de cours chargé, j'ai eu beaucoup de plaisir à participer à la journée naitonale belge. Originale, agréable, réussie, je ne suis pas prêt d'oublier cette soirée. Ce qui a dominé tout au long de la journée, c'est finalement l'art et la joie de vivre des Belges : la bonne humeur et de larges sourires. De nombreux jeux étaient prévus hier sur le campus dont un fameux "quizz de découverte sur la Belgique" à travers la BD belge, dont la grande finale a débuté vers minuit et remportée par Dominic (un franco-britannique). Voilà le programme.

12h30 à 14h : Rendez-vous au restaurant où nous avons partagé le déjeuner en présence de Monsieur l’Ambassadeur accompagné de plusieurs officiels.

Au menu, spécialités belges, bières et chocolat Lancement du quizz

Vidange bières : Il est impératif que vous laissiez les bouteilles vides au restaurant)

14h à 18h : Animation au stand R1
: décoration en tout genre, culture B.D., courts-métrages, documentations, ambiance musicale, atmosphère cosy (thé, café, cookies, …), découverte des multiples facettes de la Belgique

14h15 à 14h45 : Court-métrage sur le folklore estudiantin de Louvain-la-Neuve (R1) : 24H vélo

18h à 19h30 : Buffet belge au restaurant. Au menu, spécialités belges, bières et chocolat. Dépôt des bulletins-réponses pour le quizz

21h30 à 23h30 : Projection d’un film belge contemporain en A1 : Anyway the Wind Blows

24h : Finale du quizz au BAR
face à face sur base d’ « AFFOND » à la bière.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Mercredi 22 février. 20h-22h: soirée “networking” organisée sur le campus dans le hall de la résidence Retinger. Il ne s’agissait pas d’une foire consacrée à l’emploi des futur(e)s diplômé(e)s mais plutôt d’une discussion informelle avec quelques Anciens du Collège qui travaillent dans de nombreuses entreprises et organisations. Ainsi, nous ont fait l’honneur de leur présence Amnesty International Warsaw ; Depfa Bank ; DuPont ; Ambassade d’Autriche ; BERD ; European Personnel Selection Office (EPSO) ; Fleishman-Hillard ; Hill & Knowlton Warsaw ; Lithuania Link ; Office of the Committee for European Integration ; OSCE Warsaw ; Polish Forum of Young Diplomats ; Royal Netherlands Embassy ; Wardynski & Partners ; Warsaw School of Economics ; World Bank Warsaw ; Centre for International Relations Warsaw, etc. En somme, la présence de ce large panel nous a permis de nous informer sur les différents secteurs d’activité ainsi que sur les opportunités de carrière (en tenant compte de l’expérience de chacun). Monsieur Guy von Biesen d’EPSO nous a également présenté le processus de recrutement au sein des institutions européennes. Si cette soirée a été riche sur le plan informatif, son but n’était pas de conclure quelque contrat que ce soit. Il revient par conséquent aux étudiants d’affiner leur projet professionnel, de guetter les offres d’emplois et de contacter directement les entreprises dans l’espoir d’un entretien. Pour être un peu plus précis, travailler pour la BERD est très peu réaliste ; travailler dans les public relations ne me conviendrait pas. En revanche, le secteur bancaire privé de même que les firmes de consulting pourraient représenter une opportunité intéressante à saisir, d'autant que les portes des institutions européennes ne sont hélas ouvertes qu'à une infime minorité de lauréats.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Dimanche 19 février. Rien de particulier aujourd'hui (en réalité, l'envie d'écrire m'a quitté en ce triste week-end). Alors je mets en ligne une histoire drôle provenant du site http://www.europeanonion.com. Bonne lecture.

by San Shopanza
I have always wanted to become a European civil servant.

In 2004 the EPSO (European Personal Selection Office) announced the recruitment of "administrators" from my home country. So I applied for the job.

Almost a year after I had sent my application file (the preparation of which took me 3 months since they obviously needed everything, from my birth certificate to my life permit), I received the good news...I couldn't believe it! My application had passed the pre-selection procedure! And with only 53.678 competitors left!

The 'concours'

So I prepared myself for the written selection test, the so-called 'concours'. I bought all the books and learned everything by heart.

When I say everything, I mean everything. I knew all about the EU, its history, its policies, its personalities. I knew all the European leaders, the Commissioners, the heads of the European institutions. I knew about their tasks, their past, their families, their friends. I knew their favourite food and their sexual preferences. So I was ready!

And then came the day of the 'concours'. Since we were so many, the exam took place in Brussels' Heysel Stadium. We had to arrive 2 hours before because of the registration. I had to queue in an enormous line for 1 hour and then I had another hour to find my place. Not an easy task with 53.678 seats.

Meanwhile, a guy on a podium was yelling rules of conduct down on us. He had a megaphone and told us what we were not allowed to do. Since we were not allowed to do anything I decided to name him 'Concentration-Camp-Erhard'.

It seemed surreal: Concentration-Camp-Erhard yelling at 49.999 competitors (3.679 didn't come, which made me really happy - my chances of success had increased without my doing anything). He was also yelling at around 50.000 spectators on the tribune (many family members and friends had come to cheer and support those close to them). All this intermingled into an incredibly loud, but indistinct noise. Above the stadium an airy mist was forming from our body heats.

Concentration-Camp-Erhard opened the 'concours' by shooting in the air with a real gun. The crowd started howling and we, the competitors, opened our envelopes containing the questions.

I must say it went quite well for me, compared to those who had to give up: many fainted (49.978); one shot himself on the podium with Concentration-Camp-Erhard's gun (49.977 - I still think he wanted to bluff and assumed the gun was not real).

Yet what really disturbed me was that incredible noise coming from the spectators, together with the continuous wailing of the ambulance sirens. I have had slight audition problems since that day.

It also became a little chaotic with the thunderstorm. We and the papers were totally soaked by the pouring rain and one of the competitors got hit by a lightning bolt (49.976). This caused a certain panic. 20 were trampled to death (49.956) and Concentration-Camp-Erhard had to shoot 5 to restore order (49.951). My chances were increasing by the minute.

The test was easier than I thought. The only 2 questions I couldn't answer were the date of Commissioner Verheugen's plastic surgeon's conviction for alcoholism at work, and the name of Commission President Barroso's pet guinea pig. Damn it! I thought the guinea pig's name was 'Snoopy'. In fact it was 'Pooky'. (As to the plastic surgeon, I honestly didn't know he had been convicted. I have never understood what he had done wrong.)

Imagining becoming a European civil servant

In the following months after the exam, I couldn't stop imagining what would happen if I passed the 'concours'. My name, I dreamed, would be added to that famous EPSO-list, and I would be ready to be employed by any Head of Unit in one of the institutions.

Yet in order to be recruited, I would have to get the attention of at least one Head of Unit. So I would have to stalk around his office in flashy clothes, call him at home in the middle of the night, jump before his car, run naked through his garden... It could be a long wait. And one would have to stick one's head and swirl it around deep inside.

But then I imagined the day I would be hired. Me becoming a European civil servant! Wow!

I saw myself in a huge office surrounded by beautiful East and South European female colleagues all looking either like Carmen Kass or Penelope Cruz. And I would be responsible for something great, like protection of the environment. I would be some kind of hero, some kind of 'environment Frodo' fighting against the industrial 'Saurons'. And I would become the most famous civil servant of my unit, of my department, of my Directorate General.

I imagined how I would even become a Director General. No, not a Commissioner, but a Director General. Commissioners still have to pretend they are nice. Not Directors General. Have you ever seen a Director General? It is difficult to spot one because they are as rare as Komodo dragons. And they look like dragons too. Like them, Directors General don't have natural enemies; they become very big, very self-confident and even dangerous to humans.

Broken dreams

But then, a sudden answer from EPSO abruptly ended my dreams. I had failed the 'concours'. I had missed it for 'Pooky'.

I must admit, it almost destroyed me. I started drinking over night and in the mornings. Unable to give up my civil servant dreams, I went to cafés close to EU buildings to watch the elite, those who would know Barroso's Guinea pig's name, walking to their offices.

You can't imagine how I envied them. "Why couldn't I be one of them? Bloody, bloody 'Pooky'!" I thought.

After a while however, when I was about to turn into a Guinea pig killer, I noticed that many of the civil servants, who went to work in the morning, didn't really look happy. On the contrary, most of them actually really seemed depressed with empty faces. How could it be? They worked in an international environment, earned loads of money and drove the standard European-civil-servants-cars, the Volvos. "You must be endlessly happy with that!" I internally screamed.

The true meaning of being a European civil servant

But continuing my daily observations, I slowly began to understand:
European civil servants didn't have huge offices; they had tiny little Guinea pigs' cages.
European civil servants were not 'environment Frodos'; they worked on the harmonisation of Guinea pigs' sizes.
European civil servants didn't get rightly promoted; they had either the wrong nationality or the wrong friends.
European civil servants didn't have interesting lives; they were eternally exposed to non-danger and couldn't even die in car crashes; they were driving Volvos.
European civil servants didn't have the fundamental freedom to choose another occupation; they needed European civil servants' salaries to keep up with huge house loans and Volvos.
Female European civil servants didn't look like Kass or Cruz; they looked like that Komodo-dragon-lady from the show 'The Weakest Link'.

This understanding made me free and alive again. I was happy, stopped drinking and found a job as a postman. "Who the hell wants to become a European civil servant?" I thought...

It was totally unintended when, recently, I had another glimpse at European civil servants' salaries and allowances.

Instantly, I started studying for next year's 'concours'.