27 February 2007

Human Rights Forum & General Frustration

Human Rights Forum:
Yesterday was the Human Rights Forum, an event by our Careers Service. Six people from the field gave short presentations, their own way into the sector and advice about what they believe are good strategies for anyone who considers working in human rights.
The guest speakers were from BID (Bail for International Detainees), Peace Brigades International, the Refugee Council (this guy started working for an MP two days after he had graduated), there were also a solicitor, an anthropologist who worked as an education officer for Survival International and someone who worked at the Home Office and the Foreign Office.
Afterwards, we had a buffet and an "hour of networking", as the careers guy put it.
Tips included innovation, unusual entries into the sector, starting at a small organisation (as you can change positions quite quickly within it, that is, promotion), being active in university life etc.

General Frustration:
At the moment I am sick of everything. After a week of chasing down companies and institutions and getting all upset for things that are difficult to change, my energy is down to zero. Studying here is such a struggle already and it does not help when there is hardly anyone who shows appreciation for it!
I am particularly referring to the Austrian "welfare state" where welfare does not apply to my case. I never ever received a bloody grant or benefit from them, be it while I was graduating or while I was at university. I am probably studying more seriously than someone who studies in Vienna on a benefit and just collects the necessary minimum credits to continue being eligible for it. I wrote to the ÖH, Österreichische Hochschülerschaft, which is the Austrian's national union of students, to the City of Vienna, the Ministry of Social Security and Generations and the Ministry of Education, Science and Culture. It cannot be that the conditions of eligibility never apply and that students are forced to study at an overcrowded university.

Another thing is, I had to chase down f***ing Endsleigh Insurance, the employee I called six days ago, promised to phone me back "as soon as she can" and has not managed to do that. I let my anger out on whoever unlucky person that was on the phone - I was really beyond caring but I believe I have a right to feel mistreated.

On Sunday I tried to transfer money from my HSBC account to my BA-CA one but failed utterly. First it seemed as if it was only possible to transfer money between my HSBC current account and my HSBC saver's account (I got the two of them together, even if I didn't want the latter). The layout and the Internet Banking structure is so bad, that it took me 30 minutes to figure out how to get the bloody money back to my bloody HSBC current account. Another 20 minutes later, I figured out how to "make a payment" to a non-HSBC account (apparently "to transfer" and "to make a payment" are not the same thing). Since there didn't seem to be an extra option for international payments, I tried to enter my BIC but there is only a limited number of digits! I wrote them an e-mail and received the following response:

1) International Banker's Draft: A guaranteed cheque which the beneficiary needs to pay into their bank account for clearance
Drafts under GBP 100 - GBP 15
Drafts over GBP 100 - GBP 20

2) Priority Payments service - all currencies:
Payments in favour of an HSBC account - GBP 10
Payments in favour of accounts outside HSBC - GBP 21

3) Worldpay:
A cost effective way to send a payment within six working days and ensures that the beneficiary account overseas is credited with the full amount (!!!) you send. Up to approximately GBP 2,000 in the local currency can be sent to 20 countries for GBP 9.

Such a rip-off!!! This is the European Union! I am not transferring money to Vanuatu! BA-CA doesn't charge anything! I wonder if this is actually possible according to the guideline of free capital flows within the EU. I figured out that the cheapest way to transfer money is to withdraw the money from the HSBC account, exchange it for Euros at the post office (no commission fees), put it into an envelope and send it to Austria for someone to pay it into my account. Old style, then. On Monday, since I didn't have much time to go to a HSBC branch, I called them, I had something like 4,50 GBP left on my mobile which should suffice for at least 15 minutes of landline calls. Once I finally successfully got through the input tape ("If you want A, please press 1" etc.) - and speaking to a customer service representative is of course the last thing which is on the list - I told the officer that I referred to case number XYZ (the e-mail), by the time I had answered all her security check questions (at least five), my mobile had only one minute remaining. Of course I never spoke to anyone about the matter after that. Now I cannot even listen to my Voice Mail without topping up first.

All I ever do is studying, working, chasing down these shitty companies, writing essays, reading. I seriously need a break. I want to do sth just for recreation for a change!

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