Diesterweg, Frankfurt

My first working week

Well, I’ve now been here 9 days, and, to be honest, that has flown by. I’m getting settled in now, the flat hunt for the beginning of October isn’t quite underway yet (though I do have a viewing/interview a week today, so we’ll see), but generally the working life is admittedly a bit more tiring than I expected it to be. I did only work 5 hours on Monday meaning I have been trying to work the hours I owe off during the week (I have to work an average of 8 hours 9 minutes a day. Yes, 9 minutes. Very German), so I’ve been working approximately 9-hour days. And it’s bloody tiring!

Anyway, I thought I’d write a post about my first thoughts on my work place.

First, a bit of information about where I actually work. The educational publisher is called Diesterweg, but at some point in the past (I can’t remember when, but I was told the story!), it was bought by another educational publisher, thus creating a monster (in the size sense) company called “Bildungshaus Schulbuchverlage Westermann Schroedel Diesterweg Schöningh Winklers GmbH”. So, uh, I just say I work at Diesterweg. The company is based mainly in Braunschweig (up in t’North near Hannover ❤ ), but the English and Spanish departments are based here, in Frankfurt, as this is where Diesterweg used to be based before it was taken over.

I’ve been told there are approximately 15 people in the English office, but quite a few are on holiday now with it being summer. I’ve probably met around 8 or 9 of them, possibly… I’ve lost count, because I seemed to meet people everyday at the start of the week. I’m just glad I have an office plan with who sits where so I can learn their names, otherwise I’d have no chance.

I have my own desk, my own email address, and even my own phone (a little bit nervous for the first ever time I have to answer the phone. I’ve been told to say something like “Hallo, Diesterweg, Walker” if it’s an unknown number…!). But it’s nice that I have my dedicated space to do my work. Not that I wasn’t expecting it, but I was told and have definitely felt that I am treated as an equal, and not the crappy Intern who will do all the crappy jobs. I mean, my chair at my desk doesn’t have arms, but I’m linking that to chance and not my role in the office 😉 (seriously though, if anybody from work is reading this – maybe Amy – I really don’t mind about not having arms!).

The three Exeter graduates at Diesterweg - Dan, Amy and I!
The three Exeter graduates at Diesterweg – Dan, Amy and I!

The people in the office are really lovely, and I’ve had a few compliments on my German which is reassuring of the degree I just finished! Generally, the office seems very calm and casual. You can wear what you want and stuff. I’m sure it’ll get a bit more hectic once deadlines start approaching, but so far it’s a nice and calm place to work. Dan, my colleague, gave me a big introduction day on Monday with all the things I need to know, and he mentioned that colleagues often ask around if they want to order a takeaway for lunch. I assumed that didn’t happen too often, but let’s just say in one week I was asked if I wanted to order Indian and also pizza, and on my first day we went to a turkish place. I was up for the Indian (of course, even had leftovers the next day) but the pizza was pushing it, and I’d brought my own lunch anyway. So I’m looking forward to getting chubby with colleagues in the future!

They also do things for birthdays which I’ve experienced already. Basically, when somebody has a birthday, money is collected from everyone to get a present. Then, about a week or so before, you’re subtly asked what you want, and then on your birthday you’re given it. I’m a little nervous already for December because I can sense it can be quite awkward – we all stood around a lady, Verena, whose birthday has been and gone but she hadn’t been here, but luckily she talked her away through the awkwardness whilst opening the card and the present. So I’ll see what other people do when it’s their turn before me and see what the best way to deal with the situation is… Apparently it’s also tradition to bake a cake and bring it in at some point during the week of your birthday. So, yeah, Heane, if you’re reading this, I’ll send you my address?!

As for the tasks I do – it’s quite varied, which is nice. I’m helping with a project called “Notting Gate Hill”, a popular product of Diesterweg. The first couple of days were spent checking audio recordings with the scripts, which does sound tedious but actually it was quite fun reading through all the scripts and learning how it’s all done, especially having used textbooks when I was younger at school (well, I guess most people did!), and some of the voices were hilarious so I hope my colleagues didn’t hear me laugh out loud a little bit (one voice was a scouser. I say no more). I was also asked to check through any errors from the textbooks and things like that, so it wasn’t just “sit and listen to recordings all day” – there was more to it so I had to keep my attention levels high (which therefore meant lots of coffee, too).

We took lots of photos to send to our lecturer back in Exeter. Here's one of me working hard at my desk...
We took lots of photos to send to our lecturer back in Exeter. Here’s one of me working hard at my desk…

I was then trusted to write up more audio scripts for a separate workbook, and next week I’m going to start with making flashcards using InDesign Adobe – so it’s really cool that I’m being trained up on computer programmes I never thought I’d need to use after just a week! My name is even on the first flashcard with all the copyright information on. Very exciting!

So, yes, my work at Diesterweg is great. I couldn’t ask for friendlier people to work with, and so far I’m enjoying the tasks I’ve been given. And if on your second day you’re asked if you want to get takeaway Indian curry for lunch, you know you’ve made an excellent choice on where to spend the year!

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