A long trip, six months later

Image from my Instagram account

At the end of February I decided to move to the Netherlands: I was really excited about it and I really thought it was an amazing opportunity to improve on both personal and professional side.
 Six months have passed and I’m still here.

When I moved to Eindhoven I decided to write down a task list with all the goals I wanted to achieve: I was confident and really motivated, so the list was really big! I wasn’t able to reach all of them but I’m really happy about my results.

I’ve decided to write down my list, goals reached and some personal suggestions for who wants to move abroad, to describe the problem I’ve found.

Improve my English

I’ve never lived abroad and I’ve started to study English in depth only 3 years ago: I was able to have long conversations, but if you don’t use it daily it becomes every time a hard work.

Working in the IT, English is a must-have, so it was my first goal.

After 6 months I really feel confident: I’m able to have long conversations in a natural way without the think in Italian — translate in English step. I need to improve it, especially my pronunciation (I’ve learnt some words from video games when I was a child and I literally invented the pronunciations!), but it is now part of me.

My suggestions:

  • I’ve decided to open my personal blog in English only: it may contain some mistakes, but is a good way to improve
  • I’ve started to use Duolingo: I don’t think it can take the place of a good English course, but it helps you with daily activities.
  • I’ve started to see films and tv series in English: I suggest to start with subtitles and then, after a while, deleting them. If you have problems, start with Cartoons: they are created for children, so they usually use a simple English, without any slang (these days you can see “The Secret Life of Pets” in the cinemas: funny and easy to understand 🙂 ).

Swift, Extreme Programming and TDD

When I first arrived, the team described me some techniques they used: I didn’t know anything. Literally anything.
 I moved to Eindhoven leaving behind me an amazing family, an amazing girlfriend, a permanent role and a house I bought just before moving. Failing was not an option.

I started working during the day and studying in the evening: I really felt like a student again (really 🙂 ) and it was an exciting period!

I started to study Swift, reading the official Apple documentation, and I started to love it.

Extreme Programming methodology is really interesting, especially because it helps you applying the Test Driven Development model: I completely changed my mind, so instead of starting with the code and little functionalities, I started to write test for the final expectation.
 When you write a test your colleague writes the implementation: working in pairs helped me becoming part of the time in few days instead of weeks.

After six months I really like working in pairs and I feel that I can discuss about the idea behind each technique… and it happens only if you now what you are talking about.

I also follow several Swift blogs, Swift evolution thread and I’ve planned to start writing some articles for my personal blog.

My suggestions:

  • Stop writing code in Objective-C and start using Swift, now! You can add Swift code to your existing projects, it work really well and helps you speeding up your development: I really don’t see any advantage continuing using Objective-C.
  • Follow the Swift evolution: it is really interesting, you are already prepared in case of big changes to the code and you can be part of the future in case your request is accepted and becomes part of the code.
  • Start with TDD: having a tested code requires more time, but helps you in the future because every time you touch the code, tests can tell you if you brake something. Useful, isn’t it?
  • Start a blog. I know, hundreds of people writs every day about Swift, but you must open a blog for yourself, to write down what you’ve learnt. Try to think about it as a digital version of the paper notes you took while at school.

Personal life

I’ve started to live alone in another country, it wasn’t easy as expected:

  • You need to change your daily routine
  • You need to start taking care about yourself (no junk food, going running, going to the gym) while taking care of your home
  • You need to study how they live in another country

It took more time then expected and the process is not yet finished (I failed with my 30-day running challenge), but I’m moving on the right way.

My suggestions:

  • Join Facebook groups of the city or country you want to move to: they can help you summarizing the steps to start your new life.
  • Remember to spend some time to search online for information before moving: searching for them after you move is too late.
  • Write on your calendar the expiration date of all your documents: going to the embassy takes time and you need to apply few months before the appointment.

My blog

I didn’t spend much time on it: I planned to write an article each week (and the remainder is still in the calendar), but I preferred to spend time on my current life.
 Starting from September I’ll try to write some useful articles, stay tuned :).

This is a little review about my life so far: there is a lot more to describe and to talk about, so if have questions feel free to ask 😀 .

Happy life.

Originally published at www.marcopace.it.