Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Are We There Yet?

I talked to an American at my new company (I started work yesterday) and it was strangely refreshing and relaxing to speak to someone from the Old Country. His name is Jim, and he moved his wife and adult son here several years ago. He hails from the South Bay, of all places, including Palo Alto, San Jose a few other towns down on the Peninsula. I asked him how long it took before he felt like he knew what he was doing down here and he said "About a year."

In some small ways, I feel like we're already starting to settle in. We're eating all of our meals at home---cooked in our small apartment kitchen---we have a fairly regular daily routine with the girls that involves scootering around Frank Kitts park, lunch at home or picnic out of a backpack and exploration and maybe picking up a few groceries in the afternoon. Now that I've started going to work there's a definite pattern emerging to our days.

The people at the new company work from 9 to 6 and the six o'clock quittin' time seems to be pretty strictly observed with the higher-ups packing out about that time and the rank and file like myself peeling themselves away from their computers one by one. I left at 6:15pm yesterday evening and most of the company had already cleared out. The strict adherence to working hours is something new to me as a game developer where at past companies there was a much less regimented work schedule.

Jim is probably right about the one year breaking in period, though. What he said made sense. He said that until you've been through all of the seasons and see things coming back around again, you don't feel fully adjusted and settled. He said that after a year he could pretty confidently say that he knew what he was doing and how to do it---the Kiwi way, that is.

I know that I'll feel settled in big ways when we have a house, have stocked it with a little second hand furniture and the girls are going to school. When that routine starts to settle in, I think we'll have really arrived. Even though we're making good strides (considering it hasn't yet even been a week) I'm feeling like we've still just barely got our foot in the door.


Peter said...

Hi Steve,

Glad to see you guys are setteling in. I think the adjustment period of a year will be about right. it took me that long when I came to the U.S. The biggest difference between the U.S. and most other places is the attitude to work. Don't get me wrong, they will work hard but in the U.S. I always say many people live to work. In my experience in the U.K. and Australia and I would imagine NZ too, is that people work to live. Working way past your designated hours means not a lot outside the U.S. People will be in the middle of something and just put it down at quitting time and go home. Holidays are taken, not accumilated and no one feels guilty. It's GREAT!

Anyway, so glad you are doing well. It looks like a lovely place. (Brace for the winter though!!)


Steve said...

Thanks, Peter!

We've heard the work-to-live and live-to-work comparison a few times from Kiwis. They definitely are nose-to-the-grindstone here at my new job, but when quitting time comes, everyone clears out. It's indeed VERY different than I'm used to. People don't put as much stock into "getting ahead" here, I think.