One last question

Question 14:
A project's effectiveness is measured in terms of

A. its economic relevance and economic profitability
B. the project's purpose as compared with the overall objective
C. the results achieved as compared with the project's purpose
D. the resources used as compared with the means available

I guessed C. What do you think is the right answer? I couldn't find the EU definition or EU description on project effectiveness.

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Guelling test day

Woke up at 8:30 after sleeping seven hours. After snoozing for another half hour, I jumped into the shower, had some yogurt and muesli, got dressed, left a note for the boyfriend saying I already left and didn't want to wake him and took the train to Amsterdam. I went through the '250 MCQ on Europe and European policies, 2008-2009' book again. Felt bad about myself because it was only the second time I was going through the book, whilst I should have studied more for the EPSO RELEX 2008 test. Three days ago, I wasn't even sure if I wanted to sit for this exam in the first place. I hope the last minute cramming helped, at least it used to help when I was doing my IB and all my university exams.

Reached home around noon, quickly dropped off my stuff and went to the test center, which was held at the NH Grand Hotel Krasnapolsky, probably one of the most expensive hotels in Amsterdam. Erik cynically said that he couldn't believe the European Commission would rent out the Grand Ballroom of this expensive hotel whilst they couldn't even provide for the test instruction sheets, instead asking the candidates to print it themselves. I guessed it's due to environmental reasons. And when I saw that only half of the people confirmed to attend the test showed up, I thought this was exactly the reason why the Commission asked us to print the instructions.

Three of my ex-colleagues were there to take the test as well. Caught up with them before, in between, and after the test. Two of them were trying for the Political Matters Adviser position, whilst the third colleague and I were in competition for the Operations Adviser - Good Governance and Security position. Because there were more positions available for good governance, I chose to sit the exam for that (around 60 posts for good governance, only 15 for political matters), although political matters sounds more interesting and probably matches my work experience and studies better.

The tests were gruelling. The EU test was alright, did answer most of them correctly, I think. I wasn't too sure on question 18, so I guessed answer C:
"Once the Lisbon Treaty enters into force, which of these statements will be true?"
A. The use of co-decision procedure and qualified majority voting and the role of national parliaments will increase
B. The use of co-decision procedure will decrease; the role of national parliaments and the use of qualified majority voting will increase
C. The use of co-decision procedure and the role of national parliaments will increase; the use of qualified majority voting will decrease
D. The use of co-decision procedure and qualified majority voting and the role of national parliaments will remain the same

For someone with interest in the EU enlargement, I found it very embarrassing that I wasn't too sure on the question when the EU enlarged to include 10 new member states (thankfully I did tick the right answer in the end, 2004 and not 2005).

Time went by so fast on the verbal and numerical test. Kept saying to myself that I had to hurry up, because 50 minutes for 20 verbal questions and 10 numerical is not that much. At home, I did more than ok on the numerical part, 80% right. I'll be lucky if I passed this part of the test with 60%.

I didn't prepare for the specific competency test. I didn't know what to read or go through for this test. In the end, I found out I should have read upon things like the EU's development policies, its programmes with partner countries, the Cotonou Agreement, the Ouagadougou Action Plan and learn the MDGs by heart. Was not too sure on which part of the world had the highest percentage of people living on less than one dollar per day in 2001. Is that Latin America, North Africa and the Middle East, Sub-Saharan Africa, or South-East Asia? My instincts told me it was Sub-Saharan Africa. What do you think? I'm hoping I just about got 55% correct on this part of the test, which is the minimum requirement to go to the next round.

After the test, I went for drinks and dinner with my ex-colleagues, discussed the test, talked about our careers, what we wanted from our next job, gossiped about the people we've worked with (two female colleagues screaming at each other in the corridor, calling each other bitches and whatnot whilst the male colleagues ran away from the scene...) whether we would be prepared to go to Chad, Bangladesh or Benin if we were to be successful at this EPSO competition.

Enough talk about the test. I'm looking forward to a good eight hours of sleep.

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Caucasus, Iran and concours


In six days, Erik and I will be taking a flight from Amsterdam to Istanbul to start our one month long travelling in Eastern Turkey, Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan and Iran. We have been planning this backpacking trip since the beginning of February, so for over six months we have been in anticipation of this big trip. This will be the longest trip for me ever, four weeks with my trusty Lowe Alpine backpack and the boyfriend. It will most probably also be the most exhausting trip ever, almost every day on the move to our next destination. I'm especially excited to go to these countries because some of them feature in my master's thesis on the European Neighbourhood Policy, and my traineeship at the European Commission is related to this trip and the thesis that I am not writing at the moment.

Anyway, I'm preparing for a concours (exam) for the European Commission call for people interested in working for any of the delegations of the European Commission all over the world. These are kind of like embassies of the EU, thus they reside outside of the EU member states. I'm not looking forward to taking this test, let alone study for it, although I have tried to study as much as possible on Europe and its policies. The most tedious, minuscule details are asked on the multiple choice question. What is the Article 133 Committee? Or what is the 'Cassis de Dijon' judgment of 1979? I have no clue how to study for this exam. It's upcoming Friday afternoon. I feel unprepared.

Back to talking about the trip, because that makes me feel much better. This is the preliminary schedule, and we probably should stick to this itinerary day by day, as it will function as a guide so that we don't linger at one place too much.

TUE 22/7
AMS 09:25 Terminal 2 - PRG 10:45
PRG 11:40 Terminal 1 - IST 15:10
Connecting flight to Trabzon from Istanbul Atatürk
IST 18:55 - TRB 20:30

WED 23/7
To Hopa for border crossing (3.5h), Sarpi another bus, sleep in Batumi or Kutaisi

THU 24/7
Batumi/Kutaisi - Tbilisi (night train Batumi-Tbilisi at 21:35, 08:25 and 10:00 (7h))
Or to Gori, Stalin's birthplace

FRI 25/7

SAT 26/7
Day trip Mtskheta

SUN 27/7

MON 28/7
To Armenia (twice a day bus to Yerevan (7h), train every second day (13h, sleeper)

TUE 29/7
Armenia, Yerevan (Garni-Geghard Monastery)

WED 30/7
Armenia, Yerevan (day trip to Echmiadzin, 20km west of Yerevan)

THU 31/7
Back to Tbilisi or to Telavi (2/3h from Tbilisi)

FRI 1/8
Tbilisi, chill or go to Sheki via Telavi/Lagodekhi/Balakan/Zaqatala (40min)/Sheki
See p.320 of Azerbaijan-guide

SAT 2/8

SUN 3/8
Sheki/Baku (Baku is 7hr by bus from Sheki)

MON 4/8

TUE 5/8
Baku, to Astara/Lankaran. 6h to the border Azerbaijan/Iran, bus or (sleeper)train

WED 6/8
To Tehran (10h by bus from Astara Iranian side)

THU 7/8
Arrive in Tehran
In the evening Tehran - Shiraz

FRI 8/8
Shiraz & Persepolis

SAT 9/8
Shiraz - Yazd

SUN 10/8

MON 11/8
Yazd - Esfahan

TUE 12/8

WED 13/8

THU 14/8

FRI 15/8
Esfahan - Tehran (8h by train, 10h by bus) - Tabriz (13h by train)

SAT 16/8
Tabriz - Maku (4h) - Bazargan (border) - Dogubeyazit, Turkey

SUN 17/8
Dogubeyazit (Ishak Pasha Palace) - Kars (around 4h)

MON 18/8
Ani (day trip from Kars)

TUE 19/8
Kars - Erzurum (3h by bus, 4h by train)

WED 20/8
Check in at our favourite hotel in Istanbul

THU 21/8
Spend half the day in Istanbul town, eat a fish sandwich
Fly from Istanbul back to Amsterdam

I can't believe I'm actually going to all these countries. I have been looking forward to this for so long, it seems a little surreal that this time next week, I will be in Georgia, that tiny little country fighting off Russian political influences with its separatist regions. I hope it will stay calm whilst we are in the country.

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I've been toying with the idea...

...of writing here again. Part of me is hesitant because I fear I want to write here again because I may be procrastinating and thus am distracting myself from my master's thesis. Another part of me wants to record my life, what I've done today, what I thought, what I said to people, what memorable messages I've received. I've been keeping a diary, jotting things down in my red Moleskine journal. But typing is much more convenient.

The things I want to write and remember are basically the same things that I've been writing down before. Here, on this forum. I've contemplated writing things down in a Word document, but I strangely feel like I want to put it out in the open, perhaps because I'm curious of what other people think of matters I am dealing with. Plus, this looks prettier than some Word document in Times New Roman, 12pt.

I think I could label myself as a pseudo-writer (I know I'm a mere blogger, but I just don't like the word 'blog'). I started writing in Singapore, when I was in boarding school. I had one at Xanga, that awful blogging website. At that time you needed an invite to have your own account at LiveJournal. All the AsianAvenue 'celebrities' moved from AA to LiveJournal. Which brings back memories, because I remember having an AA account when I was 14 years old. It was mostly catered for Asian Americans, but I enjoyed reading articles on that website. Anyway, I wrote very often during my three years in England in college. And then in Bulgaria. It was fun writing about my life in Bulgaria because it was so damn exciting. I moved there for an internship, and no one knew where I lived, what my apartment looked like, what I was doing every day, so it was nice to write about my experiences so that my friends and family could read what I was doing there.

And then I came back home. And I stopped writing. Did I run out of things to say? Or was I not doing as many exciting things as I used to? One thing that comes to mind is that I only really wrote when I was abroad. As if I only wanted to tell exciting stories from the new countries that I was discovering at the time. Although I have to admit I didn't do as much exploring in England as I should have. I still haven't been to Glastonbury, nor have I been to Wimbledon, or Liverpool, Manchester or any of the other larger cities in England other than London and Birmingham.

I'm guessing the so-called writer's bug that I had when I was in Singapore, England and Bulgaria was gone. I especially remember whining and bitching about life, love and boys when I was in England. Those posts must be awful to read now. I'm actually smiling at the thought of reading my old posts about the failed relationships or non-relationships that I had with Rick, Jack and Steffen. (NB: This is probably the first time I mention people by their full first names. I always used initials. I guess this means I don't really care about privacy anymore, although you won't be seeing any pictures of myself here.)

I think I may start writing here again. Maybe that has to do with the fact that I'm moving to Brussels to live and work there for five months come October. Somehow I landed a traineeship at the European Commission with DG EuropeAid. I'm very excited to gain work experience in the heart of the European Union. I really enjoyed writing and posting stories here about my experiences in Bulgaria. And I want to continue that. And not just when I'm abroad.

Ok, time for me to take an inventory of my closet. I am missing a pair of jeans that I bought in the fall last year, and I can't seem to remember where they are. Nor do I remember when I saw or wore them. Plus, I need to see whether I have enough shabby-ish summer clothes to bring for my one month long backpacking trip with the boyfriend through Eastern Turkey, Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan and Iran. I know I have to buy some large kaftan-like things to cover up in Iran, and long maxi skirts. Or I could just get them there. Clothes shopping in Tehran, how fashionable can that be?

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Kingsley's Crossing

It's been a lifetime since I've updated LJ. I don't think I'll post any more stories here in the near future, but I had to share this with the few of you that still have me on your LJ friends page.

The story of Kingsley really touched me. Whilst the EU is giving their immigration agency Frontex a bigger budget to combat illegal immigration from Northern Africa with the supply of helicopters, ships and manpower, people (mostly young men) from all over Africa risk their lives on the ocean for a better life in Europe, the promised continent. Do watch the video and send it to your friends as well.


Kingsley's Crossing
Kingsley is a 23-year-old lifeguard from the West African coastal town of Limbe, Cameroon. Though he longed to be a professional footballer, French soldiers trained him to become a lifeguard, and Kingsley soon found himself working at an upscale hotel giving swimming lessons to visiting Europeans. He earned just 50 euros a month, enough to pay for food and the rented two-room house he shared with his parents and seven siblings.

"Most families in my country want their children to go to Europe," Kingsley says. It is in Europe - the new El Dorado - that African immigrants can vastly increase their incomes while also providing for their families back home. So, in May of 2004, Kingsley left Cameroon on what he calls "his mission." What followed was an excruciating six-month journey across half of Africa.

Kingsley's Crossing is the story of one man's willingness to abandon everything - his family, his country, and his friends - in the hopes of finding a better life abroad. Award-winning French photojournalist Olivier Jobard documents the passage. Watch it now.

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Statement of the week

"The Italian delegation voices its discontent with the efficiency of the management of the Commission's administrative activity, particularly regarding actions safeguarding linguistic diversity, and translations."

- an email from the Italian delegation after reaching a compromise between all the 27 EU member states.


To comprehend this statement, one should replace actions safeguarding linguistic diversity, and translations with "Why the hell can't we have every single European Commission document in Italian?!! Parlare Italiaaano!"

I'd say, don't work in the spheres of the European Commission, European Parliament or the Council of the European Union if you don't master English and/or French. But I gotta say, this is quite the statement the Italians are making in an email to all the EU delegations. Can't deny I wasn't laughing when reading this.

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Is it an age thing?

After telling him that I've been with the boyfriend for almost nine months and that it's pretty serious and that I don't want to be with anyone else other than him, he tells me that "there will be many, many, many more men in your life than your current boyfriend."

I know it's nothing and that I shouldn't pay that much attention to it, but it kind of bothered me when my male colleague (35, got married at 28, two children, third on the way) said that. Not at the time, but I briefly thought of it today. And I didn't like it. He thinks I'm not gonna last with him because I'm "too young to settle at this point."

Alright, so what that I'm not spending my twenties chasing (the wrong) guys, going out every weekend and flirting with lots of men, drinking heavily and enjoy my adolescence just because society tells me that I'm too young to settle down? So what if I prefer watching Seinfeld with the boyfriend in bed, reading in the park, cooking lots, and rarely go out and paint the town red?

Other than that, I spent the day waking up next to the boyfriend, watching two episodes of Seinfeld (God, I'm hooked), having simit, burek and ayran for breakfast, went to the market to get vegetables in the storm, argued in the car about immigrants, racism and patriotism, drove to Kinderdijk (windmill paradise for picture perfect Holland) and Gorinchem, the town where his dad was born and raised (also the town of Hendrick Hamel who accidently discovered Korea on his way to Japan), cooking dinner and exchanging many, many kisses throughout the day.

I love Saturdays like this.

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Things I Want (and Need!) To Do List

[1] Go home in an hour.

[2] Give my mom a hug as I haven't seen her for two days straight due to yesterday's leaving party of my colleague and an official function that I had to attend on Wednesday evening.

[3] Have a good work out at the gym this evening. I haven't been for over a week.

[4] Plan my holiday to Poland and Ukraine.

[5] Find a cosy apartment to live in for at least a year in Amsterdam.

[6] Receive an email from the professor stating that I'm admitted to the masters programme I'm on the waiting list for. I've got a 50/50 chance, so it may well be that I'll be able to enrol this September. Fingers crossed.

[7] Find an excuse to not do this Korean-English translation job.

[8] Spend the whole weekend with the boyfriend.

[9] Convince my parents that I am old enough indeed to decide to live with the boyfriend.

Even though I'm going to resume my status as a student from September onwards.

Even though I thus am not a real money-earning citizen yet (whatever that means).

Even though I've been with him for a little less than nine months.

Even though I have been successfully living on my own for 5,5 years abroad, far far away from the home front.

Even though they know that we've been practically living together from the moment we started seeing each other.

Even though I am not married to him. As if that's a condition to be fulfilled before living with your significant other.

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How did I become so stupid?

After the countless times of rubbing my eyes, yawning, stretching and making sleepy noises, I get out of bed, take a shower, and decide to put on my new creme coloured suit. It's gray outside, and it had rained during the night. Still, I think it's going to be manageable with the creme coloured suit, an umbrella in the hand and my bag to walk to the metro station, and then from The Hague Central Station to the office.

Wrong. Already on my way out of home to the metro station, I step on my pants that are slightly too long. Wet. Brown. Stained.

A 40 minute train ride later, I make my way to the office. It's now raining like there's no tomorrow, as if I'm in Singapore at 3pm during monsoon season. It always used to rain like hell at a few minutes before 3pm. My new creme coloured suit pants are wet to my knees. With little mud dots on them.

"Oh my, how did you get so wet? You should've taken the car, like me!"

Fuck you, lady. Can't you see I'm not really in the best of moods? I especially don't like it when people talk to me in the elevator. All the more reason for you to shut your yap.

Grrr. Not a good start of the day.

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