Moving to Europe: Adventure and Findings

Moving to Europe is like an adventure Jim Hawkins got into in Treasure Island. Jim got enormous experience, a lot of impressions, but everything did not happen exactly as he had originally imagined. It’s good in Europe, but there may be situations where expectations diverge from reality. The good news is that you can prepare for this in advance. So, let's imagine that our Jimmy from Russia received an offer to work in a small IT company in Berlin. What will happen next?

Introductory word

The story of Jim is very individual and does not claim to be objective and unique reality. His current Wrike colleagues helped Jim and talk about how they live or lived abroad. Therefore, in the text their quotes and personal stories are periodically found.

1. The society. All around.

Jimmy is a loner. He has no wife, dog or cat. He arrived in Berlin with one travel bag. The company rents a room for him for the first month, and Jim begins to look for new housing. He walks around the city, copes with his duties, but remains a loner. The members of his team are friendly, but in general they don’t get into his personal affairs – they don’t ask how the weekend went and if he saw the last film about Spider-Man. But Jim also holds on in a similar way – he comes, greets, sits down at the workplace and does the work.
From the hero’s diary: “At work, people talk about work, and everyone keeps their distance.”

Wrike: expat notes.

In Canada, everyone is really very friendly. Probably only here they can say: "Sorry that I stood in your way, you apparently were in a hurry on an important matter." Once I sat on a bench in a shopping center and listened to music with my head bowed. They came up to me three times and asked if everything was in order and if I needed medical help.

Valeria. Canada, Toronto. 2 years.

My husband and I live near Haifa, he works at the university, and I am on maternity leave with my daughter. Expatriates and Jews not from the CIS settle here mainly. The IT industry here is called "hi-tech."

Margarita Israel, Haifa. Right now.

2. Language. English.

English is needed to discuss working issues. Jim speaks it literally a couple of times a day: at morning stand-ups and when discussing his duties directly. At other times, locals speak their own language. And Jim, in principle, is satisfied, because he comes here to work, and not to chat. Locals discuss both Spider-Man and the latest iPhone model, but do it … in German.
Jim leaves a diary entry: “Practice English? Pf, it is needed here as a tool, there is no sense in some cool level – they understand you at work, you can always ask the store to show a figure. No one needs perfect English in Berlin – neither me, nor my colleagues. Enough and good English. "

Wrike: expat notes.

When you go to the most criminal state of Malaysia, you expect that no one will speak English there, but this is not so. It is spoken everywhere, from hospitals to shawarma. Affects the proximity of Singapore and the fact that more than half of the state’s population works there.

Catherine. Malaysia, Johor Bahru. 3 months.

With language, everything is not easy. There is always the temptation to switch to Russian. Once, in a store, our grandmother nearly killed us, because in English we asked her to give us a cut of sausage. Nevertheless, if you start a conversation in Czech, then everyone will flourish. In English, it looks like a formal exchange of information.

Dmitry. Czech Republic, Prague. Right now.

3. Language. Local.

A year has passed. Jim realized that without German, he misses a whole cultural layer – he does not laugh at jokes, does not understand the global plans of the company, and in places that Jim used to visit, and where they even recognize him, you have to speak simple English, because there 15 German speakers and Jim.
He leaves a diary entry: “When you are a foreigner in a team, no one will adapt to you. Even if the conversation is conducted in English, it is likely to switch to German. Then you have the right to say: “English, please” or if the cultural code is read, and the guys have a sense of humor, you can even try: “English, mozherf **, do you speak it ?!”

Wrike: expat notes.

There are no problems with the language. People from the former USSR speak Russian, the rest speak English. Hebrew is needed to read signs and to know your favorite ingredients for falafel.

Margarita Israel, Haifa. Right now.

Despite the popularity of English, it will not help you in some cases. For example, when “yes” is answered, it may mean anything, but not “yes” in your understanding.

Catherine. Malaysia, Johor Bahru. 3 months.

4. Work. Processes.

Jim thought that on the other side of the border everything is different and everything looks like a streamlined conveyor with shiny elements. He was wrong. The processes are exactly the same. On the ship, Jimmy had a scrum, review, retro, sprints. Tasks could easily appear in the middle of a sprint, and by the end, her requirements or UI could change. Jim wanted to see a perfect world, but saw his own, only in German.
Entry in the diary: “Requirements may come to the end of the sprint. The design can change so that on the retro we will blame the designers for not taking into account the development. Maybe it will happen that the functionality already done is not needed. In general, as elsewhere on our earth. ”

5. Work. People.

And here Jim's expectations fully coincided with reality. Nobody likes processing and detention at work. One day, Jim's team was discussing one unpleasant bug that was already on the prod. It was Friday, and the question was asked who will be able to go out on Saturday to help deal with him. Jimmy would not mind, but he does not speak German, and there it is necessary to communicate with the customer. Of the locals, everyone replied that they had plans for this Saturday, so the bug would have to wait on Monday.
Jim leaves a diary entry: “Personal time and family time are priceless. No one has the right to demand processing; they are, on the contrary, not encouraged. There’s no cult to load themselves by 146%, everyone stands for balance. ”

Wrike: expat notes.

Canadians work a lot, they are real workaholics. They have 10 days of paid leave and 9 days of holidays. They are aimed at giving a loan for study, earning for old age, so that you can relax later.

Valeria. Canada, Toronto. 2 years.

6. The society. Friends and free time.

Jim met three cool people he met on the weekend, went to the barbecue, bar and more. They had something that not a single German had – they spoke Russian. Jimmy did not look for the local diaspora or community of Russian speakers. He met these guys at the climbing wall, where he went several times a week.
From the hero’s diary: “Unexpectedly for myself, I met cool Russian-speaking guys. It happened by itself, without the participation of any communities. And it was already easier with them to communicate with the locals, because English began to prevail in communication. ”

Wrike: expat notes.

It is unlikely that you will manage to come to visit someone by phoning in an hour or a half. Such an event must be planned in a week. An urgent call to a friend at night asking them to pick them up from a dark forest will also probably not help – they will advise you to order a taxi.

Valeria. Canada, Toronto. 2 years.

You will be told that for 4 dollars you can eat here all day. True, they will not say that this is exclusively local cuisine. One European dish will cost the same 4 dollars.

Catherine. Malaysia, Johor Bahru. 3 months.


Things did not go well with the company, and Jim was cut. He returned to Russia, because it was easier for him at that time. Before leaving, he asked the technical director of a small IT company: “Why did you hire a Russian Jim?” – “Because this is a great experience for us. You passed all stages of the interview adequately, and we decided why not try the Russian programmer in our company? "
Jim leaves the last entry: “I don't feel like a loser. I don’t even feel like on whom the company earned experience, because for myself I made some conclusions:

  • the local language is required to study, if I started earlier, I would better understand what is happening around, despite the fact that everyone speaks English;
  • running away from the processes is useless; they are the same everywhere, with the same disadvantages and advantages;
  • even without a local language, you begin to think in another language, and these are very interesting feelings;
  • new cities, ports, temples, around so much of the unknown, and it really is worth it, and yet they pay even in piastres.

Jim does not exist. But there are those who succeeded. Share good and not-so-good stories about how you or your friends also moved to work in other countries. This is especially true for Wrike, given that a new office has been opened in Prague.

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