Tag Archives: phobia

Phone phobia (furrin version)

I know birdie will understand. And plenty of other people too, judging from previous phone phobia-related comments.

At home I’m not that fond of picking up the phone, but actually once I’ve dialled the number and got through to whoever-it-is I’m wanting to talk to, I’m usually OK. However, here I’ve got not only the sinking feeling in the pit of the stomach in anticipation of picking up the phone and talking to someone who may or may not be expecting my call and who may or may not be interested in speaking to me, but when someone does eventually answer (who may or may not actually be the person I want to talk to) I then have to explain myself in another language, which is *much* harder on the phone than in person because I don’t have the benefit of facial expression to help me out (on both my part and the person I’m speaking to). I find it’s much easier in person to communicate in another language – I’m more relaxed, and am not translating every word as I go along as it’s easier to factor in non-verbal elements in order to get the gist of what’s being said. On the phone I’m so busy trying to make sure I catch every word (and for some reason it feels like people talk much faster on the phone than face-to-face, though that’s probably just me) that I’m aware that I’m not really picking up the more subtle nuances, and also it’s much easier for me to make a mistake in what’s being said.

Today I phoned someone, whose number had been given me by someone I’d met but who wasn’t able to be interviewed himself but who recommended this other person. Unusually, he had also had the foresight to give her my number, and so she had an idea who I was and actually phoned me first (I don’t usually have this luxury, it’s often a cold-call to a total stranger), but as I was in an interview at the time my phone was switched off. I returned the call the same day (yesterday) but she had left the office and there was nobody there. So, heart in mouth, I phoned her again this morning, got her this time and she has agreed to meet me later this week.

However – although she has given me a date and time, she has not specified where, but told me to phone her again on her mobile tomorrow evening so that we can arrange that. If I was doing this in English I’d find it much easier to ask her to specify a place there and then, but in a foreign language (even one that I’m reasonably good at), when I’m on the phone and flustered it’s much easier to just say “yes of course, thanks very much” – I need to talk to her much more than she needs to talk to me, and my language isn’t good enough to smooth out any diplomatic issues that may arise from being any pushier. So now I’ve got to go through the whole thing again tomorrow! Argh!

This scenario isn’t actually that unusual. I’ve found it quite frustrating that people will give you snippets of information, or partially agree to something, but don’t give all the required information in one go. Another example, over the weekend I emailed someone whom I had been told by her colleague had done a study in an area of interest and relevance to my research, to ask if I could interview her this week. This morning I’d still had no response, so I phoned her this morning too (heart in mouth, the usual thing), to find that she hadn’t actually done that research at all but had contracted it out so didn’t think an interview would be useful. When I asked her about the contracted out research it turns out there was a report done, which she was happy to send me in another email – but why couldn’t she have just said that in a return email, rather than wait for me to chase it up by phone? It doesn’t seem to occur to people to offer solutions that are not exactly what is being asked for but which could be just as helpful. Likewise, other people say they will let me know their availability for an interview, but won’t tell me there and then, so I have actually put off contacting other people to arrange things in the meantime in case I have to drop everything in order to finally get the interview I’ve been after since I got here two months ago. If I don’t hear soon that’s another phone call I’m going to have to make. Sigh.

Ooh, this has turned out a bit more ranty than I intended it to! I must be tired!

Christ Church bloggy stuff

At some point reasonably soon, Mary is, God and Bishop-willing, going to be ordained as an OLM. I’m sure she’d appreciate prayers (and her loyal fans would appreciate a blog update 😉 ). [3rd attempt, hopefully the link will work now]

Intrepid Expat has finally arrived in Khartoum, and has started blogging – hooray! I’m sure she’d be happy to be prayed for too.

And Jane (blog pending, I hope) (*spot the subliminal subtle hint*) is off to vicar factory, today I think – definitely pray for her.

As for me – I fly to Romania a week today, and to the UK 2 weeks today! Will everything be done in time? Will I defeat the dastardly Man Flu before I leave? Will the Sibiu internet cafe staff remember me and greet me like a long-lost friend? Will I overcome my pathological phone phobia and speak to all the remaining scary people (who are fine and normal and lovely really)? Stay tuned ….

creepy crawliness

There was a creepy crawly this weekend on my bedroom wall that had about a million legs. Unfortunately it was too high up for me to do anything about it, even if I had had the foresight (I hadn’t) to bring my super duper spider hoover-upper with me, so I had to leave it to its own devices. Now I don’t know where it is, but will be shaking my clothes out before wearing them for a few days I think!

In other news, I still have phone phobia. I’m such a wuss (still). Sigh.

Stop laughing at the back

A few months ago I got all sorts of abuse from commenters when I announced that I was the owner of a brand new, shiny Young Person’s Railcard.

Yesterday, my friend L made my day by telling me she honestly thought I was 28, max. She now has a friend for life. (Actually I was a friend for life before, but that just sealed the deal).

In other news, I am being a 1st class wuss again and being thoroughly phone phobic. I really wish people would answer their emails so I didn’t have to chase them. Gah.

Branza marea

That is Romanian for “Big Cheese”. Anyone who saw my facebook profile yesterday will have seen that I was putting off making a cold call to said Big Cheese on account of being a big girl’s blouse. But I managed to get hold of an email address, so emailed her first, and I got a very brief reply back today to say she will call me on Monday. This is potentially a very big result, so I’m very happy about that.

Only 7 more sleeps to go till HD gets here. Teabag situation critical.

Phone phobia

That scary phone call that I’d been agonising about and putting off and procrastinating about and pretending to justify to myself that I had good reasons to put off making … I finally made it yesterday. And the number was unobtainable. Hahahahaha. It did make me laugh. Today though I went back onto the internet and found the right number, and after a bit more procrastinating phoned it again. Of course, the person I spoke to was lovely and really helpful and not scary In The Slightest. I’m such a wuss.


I now officially declare Tractor Girl and Stevie Boy Wonder as the wibsite’s official pray-ers (I initially typed pry-ers, but amusing as that was I did have to correct it). So any needs, great or small, they’re your people 😀 (no pressure guys!).

The meeting went well. They seem really interested in my research and friendly and enthusiastic and willing to help. I will be doing some participant observation with them as well as some interviews, and so I am currently feeling very positive.

So, that’s today’s scary thing out of the way. Tomorrow is the scary phone call I’ve been putting off for a few days.

[Forgot to add: In other ‘hooray!’-related news, I found zacusca in the supermarket that wasn’t extortionate. This is very fine veggie/tomato-ey stuff which I’ve never found a good recipe for, but which I like very much. I’m very happy about this 😀 ]

More photos

A couple of days ago I did the tourist thing and wandered round Sibiu taking pictures. Lots of pictures. Here are a few of them:

These first two are posters advertising Sibiu as European Capital of Culture, I really really like them, even though I think the headline is hilarious:

Normal SibiuNormal Sibiu

Next up are a picture of the exhibition I got filmed looking at the other week (see 12 May entry for details), and a manhole cover, which seems to be suggesting that there’s something happening in Sibiu this year … (the manhole covers are all over the city centre):

Art exhibition, SibiuManhole cover, Sibiu

The next two feature the Evangelical Cathedral (Evangelical as in German denomination, not as in “Evo” if you know what I mean) – the first is a typical view, there are these kinds of views all over the centre, and the second features yours truly doing the tourist thang:

Evangelical Cathedral Tower from Pasajul ScarilorPiata Huet, outside Evangelical Cathedral

Finally, four pictures showing some of the random culture that’s all over the place here. As you walk through the city centre, there is pretty much always something either going on, being prepared for, or being packed up. On this particular day, I saw puppets doing the can-can in the morning, young kids ballroom dancing in the street in the afternoon, a lifesize cardboard Trabant in a cardboard box in the early evening (apparently it was art), and then a heavy rock (or rather, raaaarck) band doing their thing later on in the main square. No idea who they were, they sang in Romanian, looked a bit old for that sort of thing, had big hair and trousers that were too tight. And they were very very loud.

Puppets do the can-can8 year old ballroom dancers in the high street
cardboard Trabant in cardboard boxLet's raaaarck!

Please feel free to add your favourite Trabant/Skoda/Lada joke in the comments, I’m sure I will have heard them before but they will make me smile. My own favourite, told me by one of my students when I taught English in Romania many years ago: Q: What do you call a Trabant with seatbelts? A: A rucksack.

The research diary at the moment would be more accurately described as the repository of outtakes, as there’s more of that than proper research-y stuff so far. Here’s some examples:

May 14th
From today I’m going to try to be more disciplined about writing in this book daily and using it as a more useful research tool….

(Before I go on to the heavy-duty research diary thing though – I ran out of pants yesterday and so yesterday and today I’ve had to wear pants I retrieved from the dirty laundry*. Yuck yuck yuck – I’m so glad I’m not a boy, they do this all the time! Yuck!

[* reader, it was the weekend so all the pants shops were shut. I would normally have enough initiative to just go out and buy some more, but circumstances conspired against me this time]

May 17th
So much for daily disciplined research journalling. I’ve gone through some questions and my information sheet with my teacher though, so although the questions I’ve come up with so far might not be great, at least they’re grammatically correct.

May 20th
So much for daily disciplined research journalling (again). (The rest of this entry is about me feeling more positive about the number of interviews I have to do after thinking about them differently from having to do x number of interviews in y number of weeks – instead I’m thinking x number of organisations, y number of clients and z number of staff from each to be interviewed, and even though the end number is the same, for some reason thinking about it this way is less daunting).

May 24th (ie today)
So much for daily disciplined research journalling (redux).

I have however today decided that I’m going to try to do at least one brave thing (ie tackling something scary on my to do list, usually that will mean making a phone call) per day. I will count meetings and interviews as that day’s scary thing. Also, if I don’t have anything scheduled to do, then I will try to be more organised in reading the articles and books I have brought with me (work-related, I hasten to add), so that at the end of each day I can feel like I have done something productive even if I haven’t had an interview or something that day – hopefully it will give an ongoing sense of achievement, as at the moment I feel like a bit of a fraud, I really have no idea what I’m doing with this research!

Yesterday and today have been spent kitting out my new flat (hooray!). It had the furniture I need, but nothing at all in the way of bedding, cutlery, crockery or pots and pans. Fortunately I managed to get to one of the out-of-town hypermarkets and picked up some cheap stuff, most of which I’ll leave behind (although I rather like the sheets, pillow cases and duvet covers so I’ll hang on to those). I did have a slight mishap – one of the things I bought was a dustpan and brush, but by the time I got home I only had a dustpan and handle, the brush had fallen off somewhere between me getting off the bus and arriving at my flat. So I have a free brush handle going to anyone who’d like to collect it – never been used, one careful (well, obviously not that careful, otherwise it would still have the brush attached) lady owner.

I still don’t have any curtains though – I only have two windows, but both look out onto a walkway used by the neighbours, and most of my meals so far I have had an audience, as the little old lady next door seems quite curious. The estate agents keep promising me the curtains, and at least do sound embarrassed when I keep phoning – the latest promise is for them to come sometime today. In the meantime I have one of my new sheets up at the bedroom window, so at least I’m not going to shock the neighbours too much (well I might shock them with the view of my culinary habits but at least they won’t see me undressing or doing my Pilates exercises!).

The only thing of any substance in my diary today is the following:

“6pm – collect laundry”

Don’t ever let anyone tell you PhD fieldwork abroad is glamorous. It so isn’t.

I am a bear of very little brain

Sigh. I was so pleased with myself this morning that I overcame my phone phobia, made a call which means that I have a couple more contacts to meet in Moldova, and had a positive reply from one of the organisations I wanted to visit in Romania, but then I totally forgot that today, my last day in Glasgow, I had to bring all my library books back in case they’re requested over the summer while I’m away. So I shall have to make a trip in to uni really early tomorrow before the long drive down to my mum and dad’s. That’s all I need.

Still, I’m SO excited about my travels. I’ll start off near Munich to see my sister, bro-in-law and niece till the end of this week, then the plan is to do 2 weeks in a language school, 1 week holiday (travelling to a place in Romania which I’ve always wanted to go to and which I know will make Ian if nobody else green with envy – I’ll make sure I take lots of pictures!), then a week mostly contact-making with a bit of sightseeing thrown in hopefully, then almost a week in Moldova doing more contact-making as well as catching up with friends, and then a few more days in Munich. Even better, I’m missing the football (there are no matches in Munich this week the days that I’m there, and it’ll all be over by the time I’m back).

I’ll try and do an occasional ‘Intrepid Blogger in the Field’ internet cafe update when I can – till then have fun without me!

Proud of myself

There’s a thread on the Ship at the moment where one or two people have confessed that they’re scared of using the phone, and wherever possible they put it off or try to get other people to do it. I’m exactly the same, although living on my own means that I’ve had to get over it to an extent as there isn’t anyone else I can palm the phoning off onto (that’s terrible grammar, isn’t it!). This morning I’ve been gradually working my way up to picking up the phone to book some of my accommodation in Romania, and that was really something that nobody else could do. Armed only with phone numbers from the Rough Guide, as Google showed that several of the places I wanted to stay at didn’t have a website or email address, and fortified with tea, I finally plucked up the courage to ignore the scared feeling in the pit of my stomach and actually pick up the phone. The other week when I booked my flights I had to phone a call centre in Romania (I’m flying with a little tinpot local airline), and was encouraged that my “Buna ziua, limba engleza vorbiti?” (“Hello, do you speak English?”) was understandable enough that the operator seamlessly switched to English and cut several minutes off the phone call (not to mention shedloads of money off my phone bill) by dealing with things efficiently and understandably rather than waiting for me to scrabble around cocking up his language trying to make myself understood.

No such luck this morning. At the first place, my optimistic “Buna ziua, lima engleza vorbiti?” was met with “Nu. Franceza?” As it happens I do speak french, but it’s so rusty that I always end up lapsing into Romanian anyway, so I bit the bullet and carried on in Romanian. And it worked. She understood! I was so chuffed with myself, and newly emboldened and confident in my utter fluency I called the next place. As soon as I said “Buna ziua” the reply was “hello”, so clearly I still have a bit of work to do in the accent department, but that was sorted too. And the next place replied “Nu. Deutsch?”, and as my german is limited to please, thankyou, hello and counting to (I think) 7, on I had to go in Romanian again. This one was a bit harder work, but ended with a very nice receptionist replying to my plea to speak a bit more slowly with a really smily “it doesn’t matter, it’s all good, see you on the 9th”. I’m so proud of myself!

Now to try to make sense of the “Mersul Trenurilor”, the timetable system for Romanian railways. I’d forgotten how incomprehensible their timetable system is until I looked this morning, though I must say the thought of buying a timetable and tracing my route across the entire book (because of course the entire route on just one page would be far too simple) brings back all sorts of nostalgic memories.

I’m starting to get excited about this now! Woo hoo!