Of work, and future plans

While at dinner last week, my colleagues and I had been talking about some things, and a certain topic come up and it led me to facing what my current future held for me (again). I’d written about my future before, but it’d been depressing as hell, so I’d never posted it. But here we go again, and this time, maybe it’s not that depressing. *grin* But first, here’s a bit about the topic that led to my thoughts…

I think it sucks when you have a boss whom you can’t respect. There’s the type of boss who thanks you for every little thing you’ve done so no matter what small little thing he asks of you, you don’t really mind helping. And there’s the type of boss who scares you so damn bad, that the less contact you have with him the better (and things runs so damn smoothly because you try to avoid being called out see him). And there’s the boss who obviously doesn’t like you and doesn’t give a damn about you, but he _will_ mind how you do your work and he _will_ give you a hard time when you don’t do it properly, never giving you any allowance for inexperience and not being aware of the policy; the type who will make you feel incompetent when they should be telling you in an encouraging way that the policy is like this, so you should etc…. And while I can understand an uber bitchy unreasonable boss, I cannot stand a patronising one.

But all these bosses are quite bearable, really. The thing which really sucks is when you see no future at all working under a certain boss, and knowing that you’ll never get out from under him, while on the whole you really like your work environment, the people and immediate bosses around you. And it’s especially bad when you see no future at all regardless of the boss you work under. It’s how I feel at my current job; there’s no room for advancement or promotion, especially at the clerical level. There is no advancement of any level, clerical or officer, unlike at a certain other company. You can’t work your way up from being a clerk at level 1 to a clerk of level 3. You’re a clerk and that’s it, and you’ll probably be a clerk for the rest of your life. And even if there’s room for advancement, we know who’s getting it. While I want to work in a department where there would be chances for me, there’s no chance of being transferred to any other department because there’s no room, and no one wants out. And if my boss had been one who’d told me, yes, I know you’re capable, so yes, I will try hard to find you a spot where you can use your abilities better, no matter how deep a rut I’m in, I will feel a lot better about where I am. With my current boss, I get the feeling I’ve transferred to a department he doesn’t like, or want to bother about, and that I’ll never be able to get him to even think about wanting to put me in any other spot that becomes available. Maybe he doesn’t think that way, but I feel that he thinks that way. He had been quite understanding when I’d wanted a transfer to my current department, and I’ll always be grateful for that, but you can’t help but feel that he thinks he’s done his part, so now he can forget about me. And that plainly just _sucks_.

No, I don’t wish to suck up to my boss, and I don’t suck up in general, but it always feels great to know your boss is aware you exist, and that if any chance comes along, he’s willing to put you up for something better. If it weren’t for the fact that I was finally able to transfer to my current department (someone had quit so there was a spot), I’d feel at even more despair than I’d felt during the past year. I stuck with my previous department because it paid very well for the little work I do, and I’d always been promised a post somewhere else should the chance come, so I’d thought perhaps there really was a chance for me in the current company. But the reality is, we’re too small a company, and there’s a colleague who’s as competent as I am (or even more, as I’ve not been tested) who’s already being eyed for any opening that would lead to a promotion in the future. Being stuck in a department which had no connection with the whole company had given me no real chance to work with any other department, or for any other boss to know that I’m of any real asset to them. And now, being where I am, there’s still that sense of isolation, despite I’m now connected with other departments. And in general, the people I work with, their personal policy is: “I get paid to do my job; if the boss tells me to do this, then I’ll do this; beyond getting paid, I couldn’t give a damn.” So they’re in for the long haul and couldn’t care less about advancements and whatnot. Or maybe they’ve just given up because they know it’ll never happen… I don’t want this. I don’t want to spend my time doing the same kind of transactions year after year after year. I don’t want to learn how to be content when I don’t have to!

I’ve been in the company for almost five years now. Next year marks my fifth. And it also marks when I can get the company’s pension fund should I decide to quit. And this pension fund will help me to quit because I’ve still got a loan here and it’ll help me pay it off. In truth, I don’t know what to think when it comes to leaving the company. Should I leave, I’ll be looking at yet another clerical position at yet another similar company, and it’ll take me time to build up any real asset or marketable value as my current job(s) won’t amount up to much. My next job would probably be much of the same thing, though I might be luckier with a good boss, but job-value-wise, it might boil down to not much difference. So I’m at a point now where, if I don’t upgrade my qualifications, I’ll have nowhere to go.

I’ve been hoping to continue my studies somewhere, but not in the country. I’m definitely blacklisted at the local university here, having quit halfway, so there’s little to no chances of my enrolling there. Business finance classes like accounting cost quite a bit, and it’s not of the stream I’d be interested in, even if I should find the money to go for them. And in reality, I’d just like to get out of here. To get out of Brunei and just take a respite from having lived and worked here for so long. I’d like to be outside the country where I can live differently, and be in a different culture, even if it’s for a while.

An aunt of mine has been encouraging me to go to Australia, but I don’t think she’d been aware of just how much it’d cost to study there. I’d misquoted the price to her, but we’re talking about A$23,000 a year. And back when the exchange rates hadn’t been almost par, that’s 1.5x more in B$. And that’s not even covering books or living expenses. Yes, I’d love to save for school, but when I can only hold one job (since I’m a bum and don’t have the energy levels for more than that), and with outstanding loans to pay (like the $15,000 for my car), the most I can save up realistically is B$1000 a year. So that’ll take me 23 years to save up for a school year, and that’s only for one year; if I save up all my work money, it’d take me two years to save for one year of school. If there was a night school in this country which actually had real credentials, I’d be better off since I can work _and_ study. But as there is no other option, I’m stuck. I’ve known this for quite a long time, but it’s been good to give myself a goal to look forward to. So I say, yes, sure, I’ll be in school in the next few years, but financially, it’s a dream. Should I have the money, I’d quit right now, and go on to school without wasting my time on retaking my A Levels and whatnot. I’m a mature student; what real university would make me resit my A Levels, especially if they’re not even necessary for the courses I might want to take? (And my old A level grades will get me into any commerce-related degree program regardless of what I’d taken. And if I wanted to do a more challenging program that required more credits, should they require it, I just need to take an A Level exam that bumps up the D in my old results to a B or C, just to proof that I can handle the course.) It all boils down to: money money money…

The lack of money, the thought of the stasis of my future is disheartening. It’s why instead of finding another similar job, I’d rather just get out of the current field of work, take a break, and then come back (maybe).

Perhaps those who know me will shake their heads and try not to tell me that I should never have quit university all those years ago. But I’m one for living life with no regrets. All the decisions I’d made, and had decided not to make, were my own. And I will not regret them. And if you must know, I would never have been able to get a degree even if I’d managed to buck up and pass all my exams at the point in time where I’d been. Because it’d have to take me more than 6 years to finally achieve a degree, and the university has a rule that says I can only be there for a maximum of 6 years. So I opted out when they finally realised that I’d never be able to finish my degree program on time. It was too late for them to realise, and too late for me to do a thing. I hadn’t been given an option, nor had I asked for one. My heart had not been into it, and back then, I had been in a certain kind of despair because of being in that uni itself. Quitting uni had been a good choice for me. And with all the experiences I’ve had after, all the people I’ve met, I can’t say I regret any part of it at all. Of course I wish I could get a better paying job, and I need it, but it had been my decision to quit, and I will never feel sorry for it, and I will never regret it. I can say, yeah, I might have made a mistake, but that’s life. We all make mistakes, and I just have to make adjustments for it. Life goes on, and I’ve decided, hey, now, I want to get a degree. So, not looking back, let’s just see what we can come up with.

Singapore is the cheapest university option I can think of, because of the government subsidy. But it’s so close in culture to Brunei, it’ll almost be as if I’ve moved from a slower-paced community to a faster (and more internationally diverse) one. And if the job opportunities are scarce, I’d be back in Brunei and having felt as if I’d returned to hicksville because of the huge difference in pace. Should I not be able to go far, I’ll be studying in Singapore (eventually), but I’d like to look further afield if I can.

I’d actually considered studying in New Zealand as the currency is almost on par with Brunei, but I know nothing of the place or what to expect; I know nothing of the culture and the people so I’m a bit reluctant to really think about being there. Will I be okay living and studing there? (We will not even think about not being able to find a job after university; let’s just get over one hurdle at a time…)

Australia’s current currency fall, if it remains as it is now, makes studying in Australia comparable in price to studying in New Zealand, and my aunt’s there, which means I can get free boarding and a huge subsidy in food costs.

Next year (just one December away), I’ll go out to banks again and see if their education loans are still the same as they had been a couple of years back. Before, when I’d inquired, you’d need to have the university accept you, and then have someone who could be a guarantor (and they usually want someone who works in the government, which makes half of Brunei), but they also require the guarantor not to have certain loans (or any loans at all, though that could be faulty memory), _and_ they also require you to pay back on your loan monthly, which is impossible if I’m studying overseas, and part-time employment is illegal; and there’s no way I’d be able to ask my mum help me out as she’s got her own loans to deal with. I really have to research on this again, and soon, as my fate depends on it (yes, I like being dramatic). It’s get out of the country or be stuck in Brunei for the rest of my life, as getting further education in this country means I’m only marketable in Brunei. With a degree from, say, Australia or Singapore, at least I can try to find work outside Brunei.

If you want to know, further education in Brunei of the paying kind isn’t exactly laudable. It’s expensive, and it doesn’t make sense to pay money when you can get better education, and of better recognition for free (we only have one university here, and it’s free, and you get a monthly allowance, if you get good grades). Accounting courses and the like are expensive here, and in reality, accountants are poorly paid in Brunei (unless you happen to work for a big-name company).

Maybe I could get someone to help me take up a loan and strike a deal with them, saying I’ll pay them back with additional interest on top of the bank’s. It’ll be a neat sum and it’ll feel as if you’d invested the money somewhat. Even so, finding that one person who does not already have commitments would be hard. But I’ll see what (and who) I can come up with.

So yeah, this post pretty much gears you up for future “how Seph goes about financing her further studies” posts.

Wish me luck. Or better yet, give my aunt in Adelaide some good vibes so that she wins the lottery (at least enough for my studies)! ^_~

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