Story time, listen to a conversation about immigrating to the UK

 

 

 

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A Mexican view

 

 

lavenham-pictures-2

Many of our stories have been from people who live in the city but here we have a story from someone who started off in the capital but found they were much happier, somewhere quieter and more peaceful.  Jose also gives an acute observation on how many more opportunities you have, once you have learnt the language.

Jose’s observations

Jose arrived from Mexico City 7 years ago. He lived in London for 2 years and now in a rural and ancient village which he loves. He found London too busy and overcrowded, not seeing nature and being surrounded by buildings. He now works in a local shop where everyone knows him and chats to him in the day. He describes the village as very quiet, relaxed and beautiful.  He enjoys the festivals and Carnival – carnival happens all over the UK , the last weekend in August when different villages and towns do different things.

His observations of the UK are that the people are very polite and that people give their pets a lot of attention and affection. The main thing that surprises him is that when it is very cold, not everyone wears warm clothes but sometimes people go out in sleeveless shirts.  He also likes that the British like to dress up so he describes a party where everyone came in medieval dress.

His advice to anyone coming here is to learn English.  When he arrived, he didn’t speak English and this left him with one option for work here – to be a cleaner.  When this came to an end, it took him a year to find another job but as his English improved, his options grew and he now has a job that he enjoys that puts him at the heart of village life.

Living in the UK countryside:Farmers Markets

farmers-marketTGIUK welcomes James’s back with his interesting insights about living in the UK countryside, which can, as you will read,can seem a long way from the pressurised lives of UK cities and where Farmers Markets are not what you think they are…

Farmers Market

My rationale for writing about the farmers market stems from my stay in Northumberland many years ago. For those of you who don’t know this county, it’s perhaps one of the most picturesque counties in England and lies in the North East of England and its northern extremities shares a common border with Scotland.  It  has a number of lovely towns in that county including Morpeth, Alnwick (Alnwick Castle of Harry Potter fame), Sea Houses – which has lovely fish and chip shops and remains a huge tourist attraction and in the South is Hexham famed for its Hadrian’s Wall (old roman wall which goes round the town). From the North to the South of Northumberland is about 60miles. The population density in Northumberland is very low – in fact people say there are more sheep in Northumberland than humans and I’m inclined to believe that!

I lived in Morpeth while in Northumberland – a town which I can only characterise as quaint. I have fond memories of the place. Perhaps the one that stands out most in my mind is that all the shops in the town centre close on Wednesday afternoons. Now I only happened on this quirk by chance when I went into town to shop one Wednesday afternoon only to find that the shops were all closed. Well you can imagine my surprise – at a time when most supermarkets such as Tesco’s and Sainsbury’s in the South were opening 24 x7, the fact that the shops on Morpeth high street had all closed on the Wednesday afternoon came as a complete surprise to me. It’s perhaps fair to say that this practice was pervasive in the UK years ago but to see it in practice in the 21st century was indeed an eye opener.

It is also in Morpeth that I experienced my first farmers market. A friend of mine suggested we go to the farmers market which was being held on the Saturday. I must confess I didn’t know what a farmers market was although I very much looked forward to it. In my naivety, I had assumed that this is where the farmers all met up and sold their livestock such as sheep, cows, chickens etc.  So I was ready – bring it on!

On the Saturday morning, I went to collect my friend and we walked to where the farmers market was being held. As we approached we saw loads of folk mingling but I could not see any livestock. I thought perhaps they were penned to the side of the market – so thought nothing of it. When we finally got to the square still I couldn’t see any livestock – I craned my neck looking round the place wondering where the livestock were being held. I think my friend noticed that I was a touch pre-occupied and wondered what the matter was. So I asked him where the livestock were? He was in stiches and of course the joke was lost on me. When he’d had his fill at laughing at my expense, he explained that there were no livestock at a farmers market instead just farm produce and some famers selling meat but definitely no livestock! Of course I now got the joke and joined in a hearty laugh. To cut a long story short my visit to the farmers market was an eye opener for me – and I now know that these farmers markets go on all over the country and are opportunities for people to sell their own products and find out if there is a market for them.

My visit to the farmers market was not wasted though. I ended up buying ostrich meat which my friend’s wife used in preparing a sumptuous meal for us.

So all in all an eventful Saturday morning outing. Now every time I see a farmers market it brings a wry smile to my face!

 

Back to school

Well, the Christmas holidays are now over and everyone is back to school or work. If you want to see some lovely mementos of the festive season, go to:  ” https://www.instagram.com/explore/tags/tgiuk “.  Jack whose parents are from the Congo shares here some lovely insights into life at primary school and gives some good advice.

primary-school-building

 

My primary school life by Jack aged 10

My name is Jack and I go to a school in the east of the city.  Primary school life is difficult at times because of the exams.  I am a bit scared of SATs in Year 6 because I don’t know if I am going to fail or pass.  SATs are the end of year test to see if you are up to standard and they test English, Comprehension, Maths and Reading.  These are the key subjects in the national curriculum 2016 (because the curriculum changes).

In Year 6 (the final year) at our school, you get to go on a five day residential trip and you get to do go-carting, rock climbing and rowing. I am looking forward to this.

The books that make you up to standard are:  Alex Rider, Moby Dick, the Chronicles of Narnia and other classic books.

In the school hall, you get to go on the monkey bars and go on ropes.  Also P.E. is about learning sports. My teacher did a club called curiosity club and he taught us Crab Basketball, that was the funnest game of the year.  When we do Art, we normally use wet paint and we draw pictures and then paint them in, for example, we did a world war 1 painting of people in the trenches.  We also got to tell the class what our background was, I am British and my parents are from the Congo.

I absolutely love science, I think its my strongest subject.  We get to do investigations and see who has the right answer or the wrong answer in our groups. Last term, we did an investigation about shadows, we had to see if we pushed the rubber close to the torch, whether it would get smaller or bigger. Fortunately, our theories were right and we got 6 house points each.  The answer was when you push the rubber forward,the shadow would get bigger as you are pushing the moon towards the sun.

Maths can be quite difficult at times because of algebra, we have to try and use our knowledge to decode the question, a stands for a missing number. Also, I don’t really understand ratio proportion but a useful tool is a maths dictionary.

English is my second strongest subject because you get to be imaginative in writing stories, every week we do a piece of extended writing which is hard work for all of us but we manage to do it.

My best memory of primary school is going to a farm in Year 2, because we got to touch and feed the animals. We also got to play in a huge children’s playground.

Hope you found this useful, I will come back and tell you about secondary school.

 

 

Happy New Year

TGIUK has been celebrating Christmas in the UK, sharing pictures of Christmas food and Christmas lights on Instagram: See; https://www.instagram.com/explore/tags/tgiuk/

 We are now on to New Year, and our weather is very traditional at the moment, icy cold and foggy.
In the UK, we traditionally celebrate New Year’s Eve, its  a time to party with friends, Christmas being traditionally the time you spend with family. We drink champagne at midnight and then sing Auld Lang’s Syne. But, what is going on in the rest of the world?  Its particularly nice to think of what is going on in the sunshine.You can find below a description of the celebrations in  Cape Town on 2nd January, a day in the UK,when people are going back to work.  It sounds marvellous.  We would love to know more about your festivals and what makes them fantastic.

Die Tweede Nuwe Jaar

(2nd New Year)

 

One of the things I miss most about my hometown of Cape Town, is the fairly unique event of ‘Tweede Nuwe Jaar’, a cultural event specifically allocated to the so called ‘coloureds’, a minority group whose origins stems from the slave trade from former colonial masters and the Cape Trade route.

There is only one other Carnival equalling it and that is the Rio Carnival, for garishness, pomp and ceremony and an utter revelling in the joy of the moment. One looks forward to “tweede Nuwe Jaar’ with utter aniticipation, trying to recognize and identify old troupes, the excitement on new troups and just the joy of being part of something that is culturally so entrenched in the Cape life cycle.

Please find attached this background piece which I thought absolutely describes the event much better than I could every do. Read it and enjoy. Source:  http://www.capetownmagazine.com/kaapse-klopse and with embellishments and photos.

The Kaapse Klopse

A look into the colourful, cultural Cape Town Klopse and Minstrel Carnival

https://youtu.be/ivqKtHFBeiA

https://youtu.be/EP2Yk-Je9rI

On par with the magnetic vibrancy of Brazil’s Rio Carnival, the Kaapse Klopse, a spirited cultural music and dance celebration, explodes onto the Mother City’s streets in a flurry of colour, song, drumbeats and movement every year in the first week of January

The animated annual New Year’s festival, officially known in English as the Cape Town Minstrel Carnival, invites the public to watch as thousands of members of the Cape coloured community (some black individuals take part too), divided into several well-rehearsed minstrel troupes, march through the city’s roads from Zonnebloem to the Bo-Kaap, dressed in gaudy, glittery uniforms; donning face paint, hats and parasols; strumming on banjos; blowing on trumpets; and performing their signature ghoema musical style.

“For spectators, it’s like watching 50 or 60 shows go past you,” Kevin Momberg, CEO of the Cape Town Minstrels Carnival Association, explains, highlighting why the lively procession has become so popular with the masses.

But this arresting one-day street parade, commonly called Tweede Nuwe Jaar (Second New Year) for obvious reasons, and the distinctive backbeat that goes with it, is only one aspect of the broader carnival. What many Capetonians and foreigners don’t realise is that after the open-air celebrations subside, the festivities continue in the form of a major competition that runs every Saturday until mid-February at the Athlone Stadium in the Cape Flats (where most of the participants are from).

 

The lengthy, structured contest sees the various minstrel clubs – there are now over 40, some with more than 1000 members, each of which is identified by a unique colour scheme – compete in a wide range of different categories (best dressed team, best band, combined chorus, male solo, drum major, minstrel song and many more) for trophies, pride and the winning title. While it holds a big entertainment factor for the public, the championship is, in fact, taken very seriously by the troupes, who start practicing their melodies and repertoires many months in advance.

Though, the carnival is certainly not all about the here and now. While it’s a developing current custom that grips club participants in modern times, the Kaapse Klopse is, in fact, steeped in rich history – one that’s unfortunately been quite poorly documented.

 

The colourful history of the Kaapse Klopse

“Some of it is hearsay, some of it is folklore, some of it is even imaginary,” says Kevin, in reference to the many colourful stories that have circulated around the festival’s heritage.

What is well established, though, is that the Tweede Nuwe Jaar street party has origins that reach back into the colonial era when slavery was rife. Local slaves – the ancestors of many of today’s Cape Minstrels – had only one day a year when they would dare to relax and let loose: 2 January, when their masters were sleeping off the debauchery of New Year’s parties the day before. Hence, this date took on great significance as an opportunity for revelry and wild self-expression, and was always marked with vibrant song and dance out in the streets.

When these servants were finally emancipated in the 1830s, their lively freedom-focused festivities were, apparently, incorporated into their customary 2 January celebrations to make for one whopping jubilee centred on liberation, renewal and frivolous fun. Of course, as New Year – a reason to rejoice in any culture – fell around this time, it became a central part of the merriment too.

100-years

 

It seems that the competitions – the first official one was held in 1907 –  then evolved organically as troupes gradually became more structured and organised, and more eager to show off their abilities and pit their displays against those of other teams.

As for the specific style of music and performance that developed, it’s been suggested that the Cape coloureds were influenced by groups of black American minstrels that arrived in the Mother City on ships like the Alabama (hence the famed Malay song ‘Daar Kom Die Alibama’ [There Comes the Alabama]). Not only did the locals latch onto the interesting body art of these energetic musicians, who painted their faces black and white, but they also incorporated elements of the foreigners’ upbeat melodies into their own musical mix – already a blend of African, European and Asian influences – to create the uniquely Capetonian sound of ghoema, as it’s known today.

Interestingly, it’s also likely that the term Coon Carnival, as the Kaapse Klopse was known for years before the name was officially changed to avoid offending people, comes from these visiting performers whose face paint made them look like racoons.

As history plays such an important role, today, the carnival is as much about raucous revelry and entertainment as it is about preserving an age-old custom.

“Tradition is the bottom line – that’s what it’s all about,” says Kevin firmly. “It goes on today because of tradition, and it will go on for the next 100 years because of this too.”

It’s for this reason that the Cape Town Minstrel Carnival remains predominantly associated with the coloured community. While the clubs do welcome those of other races and cultures, for most members, the parade and competition is simply something that’s in their blood – a ritual they learnt from their parents and will pass on to their own children in time.

No doubt then, the Kaapse Klopse troupes’ captivating zest for life and infectious energy will continue to delight residents and tourists alike well into the distant future.

Where to watch the Cape Minstrels perform

Tweede Nuwe Jaar, the colourful street parade that takes place all day on 2 January every year, is the easiest (and most cost-effective) way to catch the Cape Minstrels in action. The troupes march from Keizersgracht Street in Zonnebloem, through Darling and Adderley streets, up Wale Street and into Rose Street in the historic Bo-Kaap, where the parade comes to an end; anyone is invited to line these avenues and take in the festival for FREE. Annually, hundreds of thousands of spectators stand along the 7-km route, some even sleeping there the night before to get a good spot, so the atmosphere is always
On par with the magnetic vibrancy of Brazil’s Rio Carnival, the Kaapse Klopse, a spirited cultural music and dance celebration, explodes onto the Mother City’s streets in a flurry of colour, song, drumbeats and movement every year in the first week of January

The animated annual New Year’s festival, officially known in English as the Cape Town Minstrel Carnival, invites the public to watch as thousands of members of the Cape coloured community (some black individuals take part too), divided into several well-rehearsed minstrel troupes, march through the city’s roads from Zonnebloem to the Bo-Kaap, dressed in gaudy, glittery uniforms; donning face paint, hats and parasols; strumming on banjos; blowing on trumpets; and performing their signature ghoema musical style.

“For spectators, it’s like watching 50 or 60 shows go past you,” Kevin Momberg, CEO of the Cape Town Minstrels Carnival Association, explains, highlighting why the lively procession has become so popular with the masses.

But this arresting one-day street parade, commonly called Tweede Nuwe Jaar (Second New Year) for obvious reasons, and the distinctive backbeat that goes with it, is only one aspect of the broader carnival. What many Capetonians and foreigners don’t realise is that after the open-air celebrations subside, the festivities continue in the form of a major competition that runs every Saturday until mid-February at the Athlone Stadium in the Cape Flats (where most of the participants are from).

The lengthy, structured contest sees the various minstrel clubs – there are now over 40, some with more than 1000 members, each of which is identified by a unique colour scheme – compete in a wide range of different categories (best dressed team, best band, combined chorus, male solo, drum major, minstrel song and many more) for trophies, pride and the winning title. While it holds a big entertainment factor for the public, the championship is, in fact, taken very seriously by the troupes, who start practicing their melodies and repertoires many months in advance.

Though, the carnival is certainly not all about the here and now. While it’s a developing current custom that grips club participants in modern times, the Kaapse Klopse is, in fact, steeped in rich history – one that’s unfortunately been quite poorly documented.

 

Yakov Ben Avraham –  Wishing everyone a prosperous, healthy and promising New Year for 2017

Christmas in the UK

tgiuk-christmas-tree

 

TGIUK would like to wish all our readers a very merry Christmas. Every country and indeed every family celebrates Christmas in a different way but please find below a list of some of the UK traditions, some of which we will share with other countries, some will be just UK. We would love to hear examples of how you celebrate Christmas.

  1. Christmas starts with Advent on the 1st December.  This is about getting everyone excited about Christmas.  Children are given Advent calendars – they open each page one day at a time to discover a new picture or nowadays to have a piece of chocolate.
  2. Many schools will put on a nativity play at the end of term.  This is telling the story of Jesus’s birth and most favoured children will be cast as Jesus or Mary. Most of us end up as sheep, donkeys, shepherds or wise men.
  3. Adults tend to have Christmas quizzes so make sure you know what year the Christmas tree was introduced etc..
  4. Christmas lights are a big deal, often very arty and are in most villages and towns. Some towns raise funds all year for their Christmas lights.
  5. Most offices will have Christmas parties and teams will go out for a meal or a drink. In the public sector staff have to pay for this, in the private sector, it depends on what kind of a year you have had.
  6. Adults take children to a pantomime.  This is the telling of a fairy story with lots of jokes and audience participation, the leading character is known as a Dame and is a man dressed as a woman. The best pantomimes have jokes for the children and for the adults.
  7. Father Christmas visits on Christmas eve so that children wake up to a stocking or pillow full of presents.  This is really exciting for children and is a way of telling a child that they are really special. Its  a bit unfair on the parents who have paid for all those presents and then have to pretend that Father Christmas bought them all.
  8. Different families have their meals at different times, the traditional meal is roast turkey, roast potatoes, Brussel sprouts, bread sauce plus more followed by a Christmas pudding.
  9. Many families all give each other presents or do Secret Santa – this is when you buy one present and everyone is given a present from the pile.
  10. And if you are very traditional, you watch the Queen’s Speech at 3 pm in the afternoon.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Turkish/Turkish Cypriot perspective

winter-picture

 

A Turkish/Turkish Cypriot Perspective

A Meeting with Musa, Enver and Ela

When Musa arrived in November, 1980 in the UK, he was 21 and had just completed National Service.  He was looking for a fast food restaurant anywhere outside London and in a county 70 miles outside London he found the Happy Friar, which he took over.

Life was challenging, he knew only one Turkish family. He arrived in November and what surprised him?

Snow – the winters can be quite cold and his first sight of snow was exciting. The snow in the UK generally lasts one or two days but as we are never prepared for any extreme weather, its enough to bring the country to a halt.

Coming from a Muslim country, he had also never come across Christmas,  He was surprised when people kept saying ‘Merry Christmas’. Now he likes the festival and looks forward to it. His restaurant is full of Christmas decorations.

All three of them combine the best of both cultures, they celebrate Turkish and British festivals and  Enver and Ela’s wedding is living proof of this, they held it in a British manor house, using a traditional horse and carriage and served Turkish food.

Enver describes that coming from a small island where everyone knows everyone, your ability to express your opinion or your feelings are more limited than in the UK.  Here, we know we have rights and we know what they are and you are not afraid to say what you think or feel. He also points out that we have lots of choice: in what you buy and how you are entertained. In the UK, when you shop, you can check prices online and check that what you are getting is value for money.

They notice that in the UK, people follow the rules so if you are employed to work from 9-5, this is what you do, you don’t sneak off early.   They also observe that the government treats you the same,no matter who you are or who you know.  (This is backed up by the British Social Attitudes Survey which has found the British believe in their institutions and believe the rules are fair and should be followed).

What surprised them about the UK?

That the English drink alcohol at funerals. In Turkey, you would not drink for 40 days as a mark of respect

A lot of socialising is based on the pub and drinking alcohol (n.b. when you go to the pub you should offer to buy all your friends a drink, this is called  ‘a round’ and everyone should buy a round in an evening at the pub). Pubs were new to them when they arrived in the UK

What do we have in common?

Turks and the English both like drinking tea and horses

What is different?

In Turkey, you wouldn’t expect to leave home when you are 18 and even if you are 40, you could still go home and live with your mum and dad.

You have less living space than you do in Turkey, houses are smaller.

So many old people don’t live near their family in the UK and are lonely, this wouldn’t happen in Turkey, where the family would take care of you.

What advice would they give newcomers to the UK?

Adapt to the country – don’t isolate yourself in your own community.

Celebrate Christmas

Go to pubs and quickly get used to them

Work hard and as soon as you can, start saving for your future

1000 plus visitors

picture-of-1000

We have reached a milestone this month, we have  now had 1,000 visitors to the blog.  Our visitors are mainly from the UK but we have also had visitors from the United States, Brazil, Germany, China, Romania and many other countries. Our most popular blog ever was written by Tudor who wrote such a beautiful and positive piece about how living in Sheffield had given him insight and acceptance of difference. (Giving it your best shot – learning from others).

2016 has been a momentous year politically, the UK voted for Brexit, the US voted for Trump and it seems that the world is much more turbulent than when we started a year ago.  We think that these events make what we are doing more important, the need to understand what life is like for different people is even more important as a way of building trust between us all.  Our aim is to help newcomers to the UK:

  • Share stories
  • Widen networks
  • Find resources

We have learnt so much from people sharing their stories:  what is it is to live in another country, other than the one we were born in? We have seen how frustrating it can be if you don’t understand how feedback is given, that people enjoy how polite the British are and how annoying it can be. We have discovered surprise at how online the UK is. We have heard about different concepts of time(British Mean Time)  I have found this myself when I told an African friend, who had been cooking  lunch for me all day , that I would arrive between 12 and 12.30. She was furious, she thought I meant I would stay for half an hour! It was obvious to me that I was giving an arrival time but what is obvious to me is not always obvious to you and vice versa.

We have heard that it can be challenging going back to your home country when people can make assumptions about how well your new life is going.  We know that the struggles and tribulations of making a new life can be difficult to share.

People born in the UK have had a mirror held up to them and people who were once newcomers to the UK have generously shared their insights to help others.

So, what next?

We have a website: http://togetherintheUK.co.uk in development.  A wonderful group called Women Who Hack are helping us put together a really professional site.

We will continue to find and post more stories.

We will run more events during the coming year.

We have reached a stage  where we have confidence in the future and the value of what we are doing so are fundraising:  http://justgiving.com/crowdfunding/togetherintheUK  to get us further quicker.

 

Top tips on c.vs and your social media profile

tips-on-cvs-and-social-media

TGIUK recently ran a workshop on how to put a CV together for the job market in the UK together with  some top tips on your social media profile. Here are a few of the many insights that came out of the discussion:

Some people told us that British employers are looking for British experience so we discussed expanding your networks by going to events, going on short courses and posting on LinkedIn to make the contacts who can give you that experience.

Thanks very much to our guest speaker, Cristina for encouraging everyone with lots of good stuff but particularly the phrase, ‘failure is temporary -everything is a process of growing’.

Ten top tips:

  1. Introduce yourself in a short personal statement at the top
  2. Don’t put in personal information such as your date of birth or your marital status
  3. Set out your achievements in each role, not just what you did
  4. Employers are most interested in the last five years of your career so put most attention there
  5. Tailor your c.v. each time you send it out
  6. If you have good volunteering experience, share it
  7. Follow the companies you want to work for on social media
  8. Be seen and be active on social media
  9. Have a consistent brand and a good photo across all social media sites
  10. Keep paying attention to your social media profiles and regularly update them

 

 

 

Joining the UK professions

This blog is about giving advice on how to get a job in the profession you have trained for. Its about throwing light on the path ahead.  Camila writes here of her experience of the UK system and how she got it to work for her. It’s full of practical advice. If you have a story about how joined your profession, please share it under comments

lighted-path

Camila’s story

This blog is about sharing lessons about what you need to do to work as a professional in the UK, there are great structures in the UK but you have to know about them and anyone coming from another country might just stumble across them.

My story is that I am a qualified to MSc level in a profession that has a serious skill shortage.  I now have a good job because I used all the support available but if I had understood the way it works, I might have done it quicker so here are the lessons I have learnt:

The advice below doesn’t apply if you are in the medical profession, there are different processes and sometimes more exams.

Most importantly, you need to know about UK NARIC. (Naric.org.uk)  especially if you come from outside the European Union. This is a national agency which performs the recognition and comparison of international qualifications and skills on behalf of the UK Government.  NARIC looks at your qualifications in your country and issues a Statement of Compatibility which shows that your qualifications are equivalent to the ones in the UK.  Before you take your qualifications to NARIC, you need your certificates translated and it must be by an official translator. It charges you per page and if you contact some studies agencies you can find better prices and deals for the translations.

It’s also really worth joining your professional institution or association. For many jobs, you need to be a member of your professional institute. Take into account that in your profession you might have more than one professional institutions to join depending on the path you want to follow. In my case, because the Institute only met twice a year, they took a year to approve my membership. I should have joined as a student member as that would have speeded the process up.  Most institutes offer a library, training courses, a way of accrediting that you are still uptodate (the UK calls this Continuous Professional Development – CPD).  My institute also has a charity which is created to help its professionals to get a job in their field and they gave me advice on how to present my c.v., get ready for my interviews and more support so I learnt to focus on the areas that employers are looking for, rather than just presenting my qualifications and experience.

For many professions, universities organise industrial placements, these are opportunities to get some work experience so when you graduate you have both work experience and your qualifications.  Don’t miss out on these. You can only apply for placements when you are studying. You are no longer eligible once you have graduated.

Many colleges and universities offer short courses at quite a cheap rate. Sometimes, you might have a BSc and a MSc  but it’s the final piece in the jigsaw that gets you the job.

Finally, do some online searching of what the best jobs agencies or recruiters are in your field.  The larger online website to apply for jobs are CVLibrary and Reed.co.uk but many professions will have specialist agencies that should be well worth tapping into.

So my lesson is there are lots of routes out there into good jobs but it helps to know what they are!