I’ve lived in the U.S. for 5 years as a student and am re-starting my career here — now, in my 30s. I have to admit that I am struggling with the working culture, although I’m fully adapted to the American culture in general. In Brazil, where I’m from, we work hard from 8–6 and then, at the end of the day, we just stop working. Simple like that. We work hard throughout the year and then we take our mandatory 30-day vacation. Sometimes, we negotiate with our companies and “sell” half of our vacation days. Which means, we only take 15 days off and work the other 15 days to get paid extra. But the maximum a company is willing to let you “sell” from your vacation is 15 days.
Nobody shames you for taking your entire vacation. Nobody gets mad because you’re sick and didn’t show up to work. You don’t feel guilty because your work is getting distributed among your co-workers while your enjoying life and drinking caipirinhas at the beach at 10am. After all, everybody does it — everybody will get their turn. And you most certainly don’t “check in” while you’re on vacation. F*%$ that! They’ll carry on without you, the same way you did while Jose, Maria and the rest of the team took their vacation. That’s why companies have ridiculously hard hiring processes — to ensure they only hire the best people, right?
I am at a company that has unlimited vacation policy and I made extremely clear when I started that I work hard and play hard. I unplug on Friday evening and only reconnect on Monday morning. I’d use every single day off and vacation I felt entitled to. No shame and no guilt. On the other hand, I don’t fool around. There’s no meditation hour, playing foosball (really?!)or going on 375 Instagram breaks during the day. When I’m working, I’m really working; but when I’m out, they know… I’m out.