Tuesday, 18 November 2008

To open an English bank account

Another maddening adventure during my buzzing journey in London was to open a bank account. Actually, I didn't need it because I didn't manage to get a job there and I could withdraw money with my Italian debit card.
In order to open a bank account in London you need your ID, a cover letter by your employer and sometimes your passport (it depends on your nationality and the bank). I reasonably suppose that the same procedure works everywhere in the UK.
Anyway I was asked to help my Spanish friend to open her bank account (she strongly relied on my English ..oh my God). We chose the Lloid bank, where you can get a bank account free of charge. For the first time you get an appointment, generally within one week, you can go to the bank again to open your account definitely. After 3 days we went to the bank and finally we had a complete interview. Here an incredible thing happened to me.
The clerk was speaking in English to us, but she mostly talked to me because I was able to understand her and translate from a quick and "complex" English into a simple and slow English for my Spanish friend....a bit of gloat :)
I was a sort of electronic device which makes a good English broken :)
Anyway only after 20 minutes the clerk realized that I was speaking in English and not in Spanish and she said to me "But you're speaking in English!",
I replied: "Yes of course! I don't know Spanish, if you spoke slowly and easily my friend could understand you without my help" and the fretful clerk continued: "OK, I got it, we don't need you any more!!! " oh my God I hit the roof, the clerk made my blood boil !
I wanted to say: damn maroon you need more than 5 minutes to understand that I was speaking in English !!!! The interview lasted about 25 minutes, they are really thorough and I'd bet they collect enough info about you to have a complete profile of their client for legal and advertisement purposes.
In the end we went out and to celebrate the successful bank account opening.

Thanks, Zsofia for her corrections

Thursday, 13 November 2008

Other English podcasts

I already emphasized how important is to practice English every day.
For instance, you can listen to English podcasts which take a few minutes. As well, I showed you where some of them are available.
Now I want to suggest another resource that might be helpful especially for people who need English for their work.
I can't leave a comment yet about their usability, practicability and quality but in the meanwhile you can try them out for me and report a comment :)
I'll try them as soon as possible.

Thank you Nadia for her corrections

Saturday, 8 November 2008


I have no words, I fell truly ashamed for the Berlusconi's off the cuff remark about Mr Obama.
I apologize for being an Italian.

Thursday, 6 November 2008


In London there is a huge amount of pedestrian signals all around. Before crossing the street, you should notice from which direction the cars come.
In order to help the people distinguishing the correct way to check they write on the street "look left" or "look right" near the crosswalks.

Above all they help the tourists to settle in, I guess.
What I want to point out, here, is the presence of these indications that I've never seen in other cities. Since in my city I don't have this kind of road signs and I was about to be run over several times, I got used to look at both ways... I know I was a fool:)

Another weird thing occurred to me. When I cross the street, generally, I 'm in habit of looking at the driver's head. I have my theory: you don't need to look at the car but just the driver's head and if they seem absent minded or they are looking at some girl :) you shouldn't cross the street, it's unsafe.
When I was in London I looked at the driver's head but given that I'm European I mistakenly looked at the passenger on the left while I should have looked at the one on the right !!!
Result : in the early time I thought that British people didn't care about the pedestrians and I was utterly confused where to look, you know, they are those kind of actions that you take without reflecting, they are spontaneous.

Now in Italy, l always look at both directions, even though I exactly know from which way the cars are supposed to come. Before my departure for London I didn't do it !

Saturday, 1 November 2008

Assessment I

Hi guys,

In the recent days I had some assessments that I hope I tackled (it's better to say overcame ;). What is an assessment ?
First of all the recruiters, generally, don't translate the word "assessment" so it's good idea to be accustomed to listen to and use it.
An assessment, usually is splitted into different phases and every one is characterized by specific tests.
Phase 1:
It takes about 5 hours with a break in the middle.
In this phase you have to speak out for five minutes about yourself in front of some managers (or psychologist) and the other applicants, obviously your presentation is mostly focused on your transferable skills.
After, you will be asked to do some number reasoning tests and a written English test. Not all the firms submit you this kind of tests.
At the end or in place of the reasoning test you have to sort out a (or more than one) business case.
In this step they give you some minutes (from 20 to 40) to solve the business case on your own and record your solution on a paper. Then follow other minutes to exchange your idea(s) and interpretations with the other applicants. During this asset to find a reasonable and feasible solution is as important as cooperating with the others effectively and peacefully. It's not a good idea to say something like "We have to put in action my idea because it's the best..." potentially you found the most appropriated solution but you must convict the others candidates to follow you without arguing or prevaricating them.
Afterward the other candidates represt your future coworkers or your manager.
Phase 2
I still don't know because I'm waiting for the results from the first one.. anyway a technical interview is rumored...
Phase 3
Obviously if I lack info for the second I can't give you any for this one.. again somebody says this is the final step. You'll be in front of a senior (= one of the big shot in your firm) and he will question you in order to understand if you deserve that post and you have such a motivation to be part of his firm.

If you've started wondering what a hell business case is, you can take a look at Mckinsey (How do well in the interview).


I'll keep on speaking about London soon :)

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