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Sunday, January 08, 2017

100 Days

The general consensus is that 2016 was a terrible year. Within my own social circle, I know that some of my friends certainly had a tough time of things. Plus, all the celebrities died. On a personal level, however, 2016 was not bad at all. I've had much... much worse years. For example, most of the years between 2005 and 2012 just felt like a whole bunch of this:

Comparatively, the last three years or so have been a fucking blast and 2017 has gotten off to a fine start. I think this year's reoccurring theme will be "acquiring pieces of paper that confirm that I know things". 

Finally, after about 2.5 months of studying and some encouragement from my mentor, I got up yesterday morning and finally took/passed the PSM I exam. As someone who essentially side stepped ninja-stylez into a project manager position (with dabblings in Scrum), I occasionally feel a bit inadequate with my lack of certifications. I know this isn't an indicator of ability, but my CV is kind of a wild ride and I'd like some anchors that show demonstrated and sustained interest and expertise in an area. Having been away from a school environment for so long, my confidence in my independent learning & study skills is a bit shaky. However, this was just the motivation that I needed to continue. Plus, I got this super fly certificate and "badge" so it's basically even realer than Pokémon GO. #keepinitreal

Next up: 
  • More Spanish... for real... for really really real. I need to be able to communicate or else these trips are going to become a lot less fun and more stress. The goal is B1 by the end of the year. 
  • More project management stuff - I'll be starting a course at the university in March. It's more traditional project management, but I figure that can't hurt either — seeing as how I only have like a 5 day training workshop to my name thus far.
  • Coding - I don't know exactly what coding language I want to learn as yet or how I want to learn it. I just know I want to learn at least one. 
  • PSM II - I'd like to have the PSM II test in my sights by the end of the year. I think this is contingent on my progress in applying my existing scrum skills professionally (easier) as well as connecting and networking with scrum masters and agile coaches outside of work (tougher). 
Anyway, at the moment, I want to just focus on the next 100 days and see how that shapes up. I'll try to document how it's going right here.  

Friday, December 30, 2016

10 Things I Love About Spain

Two more days of 2016 left and four more days of this trip. Being the lucky bitch that I am, I just went ahead and caught this delightful cold. It's actually a tactic to help me not eat everything in sight. If you can't taste it, what's the point of eating it, amirite?

Anyway, I put up my list of 10 things I hate and, as promised, here's the list of 10 things that I love...

Thursday, December 29, 2016

10 Things I Hate About Spain

Before I got together with Duncan, I thought to myself, "Damn, if I'm ever in another relationship, it sure would be nice to travel regularly again with someone." Actually, I had a long list of "nice-to-haves" with regards to my imaginary new boyfriend. As luck would have it -- and I mean really have it, because I was oddly specific in some points -- he checked off all those boxes perfectly...

except the whole Spanish thing. I never said anything about a Spanish Spaniard from Spain

...but here we are.

It's my third trip to Málaga, Spain in the past two years and, of course, I find myself now completely qualified to share my subjective opinion about a city (that will probably bleed over into my subjective opinion of the entire country). I'll start with the "negatives", which are admittedly a lot more difficult, because my trips have been overwhelmingly awesome.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

The One Who Got Away (Part 4)

So, it took about 2.5 weeks exactly to get the results of my citizenship test. This is definitely a "your mileage may vary" thing. A British colleague of mine who is also pursuing German citizenship had to wait around 4 weeks.

I'm pleasantly surprised, because I know there were at least 4 questions that I was really uncertain about . I'm also not surprised, because this was also within the range of the practice tests that I took. 

Fazit (as the Germans say): Go through the BAMF interactive question catalog completely at least once. Get a free app with all of the questions (here's the Android app that I used). Preferably one that structures the practice tests like the real test (i.e. 30 questions about Germany, 3 questions about your German state) and then just do it 'til your regularly getting like 20 or so correct all the time. 

Monday, November 28, 2016

The One Who Got Away (Part 3)

In contrast to registering for the citizenship test, taking the test is pretty straightforward.

I arrived at my assigned testing center 20-ish minutes before the prescribed start. And, because this is professional level Ausländershit, I was not the first to arrive. There were at least 15 bureaucratically-seasoned test takers already there. Respect. We all knew what was up.

Like I mentioned previously, there's a pool of 300 questions + Bundesland (state) specific questions. But I'm going into this with some 20+ years of learning German history and culture. Go to the iTunes store or Google play and get a free/well-rated app. Do all the questions at least once or twice (more if you find it difficult) and then just do practice tests until you feel "comfortable enough".

For me, comfortable enough meant that regardless of the constellation of questions, I could answer 20 with 100% confidence (you need 13 correct to pass). I don't think I ever got 33 correct, but I consistently got 28 - 30 correct.

Mind you, I almost exclusively just did practice tests and only did the whole 300 question pool twice.

The test proctor was very nice and experieced. She explained the procedure for marking questions and how to make corrections very clearly. She also gave everyone some great advice before beginning, namely: If you're not sure... then guess. Wrong answers don't result in  points off and there's a 25% chance your answer is right.

I think... at worst I got a 26... but I'm think more along the lines of 28-29. It falls in my testing range and it's over 13. I'll update in 3-6 weeks when I get the results.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Sunday, November 06, 2016

The One Who Got Away (Part 2)

During my first info session at the naturalization office, they gave me a checklist of everything that I needed to submit for my* application.

* = If you somehow find this post looking for information about acquiring German citizenship, please just be aware that your particular circumstances may require you to submit completely different things (maybe more things, maybe fewer things... you lucky bastard). Go to their office, get your own checklist. Don't be the guy who's like "A random person on the internet said these were all the things. Blarg. Arg. #Me so angry. I guess I'll go fuck myself now." The hashtag in "me so angry" was a totally accidental typo, but it supports my point so it stays.

  • The naturalization application
  • A declaration of any past/present political affiliations and memberships