21 February 2019
Category : Entrevista
"FIIAPP looks after the expatriate, not only in the strict sense of the working conditions, but in the support we are given and in the feeling of closeness experienced"
Eva María Picos, coordinator of the Capacity Building project undertaken by the Macedonian Postal Service, tells us how she has gone about adapting to the country, what her daily routine is like and what it is like working as an FIIAPP expatriate.
How long have you been living in Macedonia? How have you adapted to this country? Is it very different from Spain?
I arrived in Macedonia, specifically its capital city, Skopje, on 3 December, 2018; the very day on which the contract was signed and, therefore, on which the project kicked off. Winters are cold, summers are hot, there is a river running through the city… I still have not had much time to get to know the country well, but it may very well be that there are other places more beautiful than its capital. As far as the natural beauty of the country is concerned, I am aware that it has some beautiful scenery given its Balkan setting. I find the Macedonians to be Mediterranean in character; they are great pranksters, like to go out, like meal-centred get-togethers, etc.
What has been the most difficult aspect to adapt to, and the easiest?
What I have found most difficult is to adapt to the weather and the timetable. The easiest thing for me has been to get used to the Macedonian character, as it is very similar to ours. Communication has not been a problem as almost everyone speaks English here. The food is also similar to Spanish food.
Is this your first experience outside of Spain? If not, is it proving to be different to any previous ones?
I lived in Ireland for a year when I finished university. This experience is different because while there I did not work in an area related to my degree; the main goal was to learn English. What both experiences have in common is having to leave your home environment and making you adapt to different ways and customs.
What is your work like and your daily routine? Is your routine very different to the one you had in Spain?
It is totally different, simply because you have to learn to cope in a country that is not your own, which greatly conditions your daily routine. In Spain my work was more office centred and did not have such a relational dimension. The project involves many actors and requires constant communication, meetings, numerous and varied tasks, ranging from finding locations for events, study visits and missions to drafting reports. Moreover, this is a living, flexible project that requires constant revision and adaptation, not to mention smooth communication to maximize results.
What is your relationship like with the FIIAPP team Madrid? And with your colleagues in Macedonia?
The relationship with the FIIAPP team has been very good and close from the start. There is daily contact via email and calls when required by the project. Indeed, it is quite funny, because although there is no physical proximity as expatriation is involved, the feeling does not differ that much from when you are working side by side. I have only good things to say about each and every one of the people that I have come across so far on my as yet brief FIIAPP journey.
There are two aspects to my relations with my Macedonian colleagues: The Macedonian Postal Service, which is the project beneficiary, and the FIIAPP team, made up of the translator, the assistant and myself. Right from the off I felt accepted as one of them. They quickly integrated me into their daily routine and work practices.
How would you assess your experience of working as a FIIAPP expatriate?
It is a great opportunity for me, both personally and professionally. Indeed, it came up unexpectedly, but turned out to be quite a challenge. I think that this type of experience involves a big sacrifice in the sense that you miss your family and friends, but workwise you learn a lot.
For family reasons I have lived through expatriation situations close up and not all of them are like the FIIAPP experience. It must be said in this sense that FIIAPP looks after the expatriate, not only in the strict sense of the working conditions, but in the support we are given and in the feeling of closeness experienced.
Do you have any experiences or anecdotes about your arrival in or adaptation to the country?
Well the truth is that every day is an anecdote in itself as I’m still fully immersed in the process of adaptation. From the snowfall that caught me off guard and without proper clothing, to the day I wanted to make a lentil stew and bought what I thought was chorizo, but which turned out to be a local sausage. I’ve also seen myself having soup and eating a type of coleslaw salad at 11 a.m. in the morning (lunchtime in Macedonia, when what I really fancied was coffee with churros!).
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