Monday, 27 April 2015

An overdue update

Oh! My poor, lonely, neglected blog! I'll have to renounce the word 'loquacious' from my title, as I've been sucked into the bright shiny world of Twitter. I twit all the time now.

In saying that, I'm still in need of a less restrictive medium for a more long-winded update. Where to start...

There's been a slight hitch in the planning for my OE. I'm sure some of you will remember late last year I was accepted into the England's Hidden Treasures Summer School programme at Bishop Grosseteste University.

In all honesty, things hadn't been going as swimmingly as I'd hoped. When I first applied, I was told it would take 28 working days to process my application - over a month passed before I asked for an update and found out I'd been forgotten. Fortunately though, I was accepted into the course! And boy was I excited. I've been saving up to go on this course for more than two years now.

Anyway, my details were passed to someone else at BGU to arrange payment of my deposit. I was told I needed to pay within a month of accepting my spot, in order to confirm it. It took a week for this second person to contact me, at which point they reiterated the point about me paying within a month. So, of course, I replied asking for details of how to go about paying. This was right before Christmas, so I made it clear I wanted to get the payment through to BGU before everything shut down for the Christmas and New Year break. However, the last Friday before Christmas rolled around without any word on payment details, so I just had to wait until after New Year.

By the time businesses started to reopen after the New Year break, I had less than a week until my deposit cut-off date. I'd assumed I'd hear back first thing on Tuesday (taking the time difference into account) - after all, I figured this was quite a straightforward request to respond to. However, by mid-week and after sending another reminder email to my contact, I'd still heard nothing back, and I was really nervous about losing my place on the course by default.

So, I started asking elsewhere. I emailed the person who'd handled my initial application and the Admission Team at BGU, plus I tweeted (public tweeting gets a surprising amount of customer service issues solved). At this point I thought maybe the person who was meant to send me the payment details was still on holiday - hopefully someone else could send through the information I needed before Friday. Easy.

In the end though, I got a terse email on Friday morning from the person who was meant to send through the details. I got the impression from the email that she thought I'd overreacted - and maybe the tweet was a bit excessive, but I value my place on the course and I wanted to secure it quickly. But anyway, finally, finally, on the last day of the month I'd been given to pay the deposit, I had a PDF containing BGU's bank number! Success!

So, I went to to bank - it turns out bank fees for converting dollars into pounds are a lot more hefty than I thought they'd be. But, my deposit was paid! More success!

All up, as a customer I was pretty disappointed in BGU's customer service. I felt like my request for the bank number was a simple one, and it would have taken less than five minutes for someone to email me the PDF. I also feel that giving me a month to pay should have meant I had a month to sort out the payment at my end - not that BGU had a month at their end to tell me their bank account number. But, I put it down to Christmas-related stress. The important thing was that I was sorted now.

Anyway, fast forward to March. I had an interesting March, thank you for asking. I fell off my bike and stabbed myself in the face with my glasses. I don't recommend that experience. I also ran a Facebook page for the Thames Heritage Festival, which is an experience I do recommend. There were a lot of things wrong with the media and marketing surrounding the festival this year, but I feel like my two cents worth really helped people know what was on. It was a good feeling. Also, I gave a talk at The Treasury about Maori involvement in the gold rush, which was really well attended and got a good response from the public.

Also in March, I was expecting to both pay off the rest of my course and choose my preferred placement. It was getting kind of late in March and I was starting to wonder about emailing them again. But, before I got that far, BGU emailed me. My course had been cancelled!!

I was pretty upset, as you can well imagine. I really had my heart set on this course. However, not enough people had enrolled to justify running it this year. Tough luck. I was out.

On the up side, this does give me a bit more time and a lot more money to play with in Europe. My flights and post-course tours were already booked, so I was already committed to going to the UK. I've decided to go to Ireland, and spend extra weeks in Manchester and London, in the weeks I'd been planning to spend at BGU. I'm hoping to head to Lincoln later in my stay for their Steampunk Festival.

All up, the whole BGU debacle has been a pretty disappointing experience. Quite apart from the course being cancelled, the lack of speed with which my emails were answered after I first applied was frustrating and stressful.

I'm still, however, really keen to find my own volunteer, placement or shadowing opportunity while I'm in the UK. I've emailed a few places without much luck, but I think I need to cast my net a bit wider. Despite the initial setbacks, I still think my OE is going to be a great opportunity to learn more about the GLAM sector. As they say, when one door closes, another opens.

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