Oh my God, what have I done?

As I write this, I’m sitting in the hotel apartment in Italy. I’ve left my wife & 16 week old son in the UK while I spend two weeks working for a new company in Italy. In January, all three of us move out here for at least the next three years.

Oh. My. God. What the fuck have I done?!

The Bad

Day two was pretty bad. The full enormity of it all suddenly hit home. I can’t make myself understood – I need others to do everything for me. I can imagine how my son must feel – no way of communicating and totally reliant on others. To be honest, it’s a wonder I didn’t start screaming at the top of my lungs and shit my pants.

After work I had to navigate, in the fog and dark, a route I’d never driven before – to find my way home. But before I could kick back and relax with a nice glass of wine, I first had to do battle with the supermarket and buy the wine. As well as food for the evening. Plus also pans to cook the food in. And knives to prepare it with. And… and… and… Clearly people staying in this apartment don’t cook. I mean, to call it under-stocked is to do a dis-service to apartments without kitchens. Totally fucking useless. Anyway. Easily solved. Just more money down the pan.

Then when I got home, the useless toilet paper carrier bags snap and the shopping crashes to the floor. Everything survives. Oh, except the wine. God-fucking-damnit I needed that.

After a day of hearing how critical it will be to live in the right area; and for my wife not to be bored out of her mind by moving here – I find out that the tantalizing prospect of my wife being able to continue working for the same company but from Italy, had been snatched away from us. This means my wife will be unemployed. In a country she doesn’t speak the language. With an economy going down the toilet. We expected this. But it’s still annoying.

I mostly spend the evening worrying what on earth I’m doing out here. How are we going to survive? Life in the UK with a 3 month old baby has been hard. How will we cope in a country we don’t know our way around, where we can’t speak the language? What the fuck will we do?

The good

Day three on the other hand, has been much better. After a day feeling useful at work – I mooch home, stop via the supermarket and buy yet more things I’d forgotten / couldn’t find the day before. So today I get home and can actually cook a meal (a bolognese, how appropriate). I even get a glass of wine. Or three. And suddenly today feels like a much better day!

But why? I’m starting to get to know a few of the ex-pats. Starting to get an idea of where we ought to live. Starting to feel that my wife might not be completely isolated. It sounds like there really is the community out here I’d heard about / hoped for. Ok, Sam still needs to get involved and settle in – but at least today I think it’s possible.

And at work the team – to my great relief – actually seem pretty fucking awesome. Sure, there are challenges. Sure, there are some issues. But they seem to basically want to do the job right. They seem to basically understand what it takes. I’m not sure why that hasn’t always happened, maybe they think they don’t have permission? But perhaps that’s where I come in. After all, if Software Craftsmanship is about anything – it’s about raising the bar, it’s about encouraging other developers to do the right thing, it’s about giving them permission to do it right. So here’s hoping this is a great opportunity to help a team excel, to do the job I believe in and have an influence in an industry I’ve loved for years.

All-in-all – I’m hoping I’ve made an awesome, massive, life-changing decision that will be full of win for all three of us. Of course, having lunch with and meeting people you know off the telly puts the squee level into fucking over-drive. Oh. My. Fucking. God. I really am working here.

Tomorrow will now be an utter piece of shit disaster making me wish I was back in Blighty. Hey ho. Gotta love the roller coaster of life.

Apologies to people expecting this to be a blog about technology. Normal techie-ranty-goodness will resume shortly. Life-with-a-capital-L just slightly more on my mind at the minute.

Update: further posts on this topic will be at my new blog, specific to our move to Italy: English South Of Milan.

11 thoughts on “Oh my God, what have I done?

  1. Glenn Saqui

    After moving to the UK I had a very similar experience. Granted I didn’t switch languages but I hated every minute of it. Trust me when I say that it gets better and after 3 months you’ll love it but until then you’ll have some horrible days.

    1. Thanks, Glenn. Good to hear.

      I’m hoping, much like being a father, that the bat-shit-crazy-insaneness-ohmigod-where-did-my-life-go gets less and less as time goes on! Always nice to hear from people that have already been thru it, makes the bad days easier to take.

  2. This is precisely the same experience i had leaving the same company and moving to a country where i understood basically nothing. It gets better! The experience of taking such a dramatic change has been awesome for me – so hang in there! 🙂

  3. Tom Westmacott

    Reminds me of arriving at the start of my year in Japan teaching English, everything was strange, and just trying to run basic daily life was all-consuming for the first few months. Then everything started to flow and became much easier.

  4. Dear David, hope you are better now. My compliments on doing something hard, something different in live, something unexpected, something you are afraid off – this means growing and experience, this means living. I’m not the person who likes to move around, working in the same city since ever, but given a proper opportunity, I would have moved with wife and child – against all odds, against my fears – because I would not like to ask myself my whole life “what if…” (unfortunately the I didn’t survive the interview process till the end)

    All the best!

    PS: I think it’s ok to post non technical stuff from time to time. In fact, my blog contains more rants than anything else.

  5. Paul Lambert

    +1 for Tomasz.That’s pretty much how adapting to Barcelona has been for me – although it took at least 6 years before I arrived at the “you get used to everything” phase. Not to alarm you or anything! 😉

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