I tend to have very ambitious plans and even realizing this I never regret because I believe that the higher you mark the higher you are going to reach. Of course there is some frustration and dissatisfaction when it is time for a review. If it is the case for you just neglect all bad and continue looking forward. Life is too short to spoil it with negative emotions. I visited so many places in the past year I wouldn’t believe if you told me this year before. Great and deep feelings of pleasant moments travelling somewhere in Europe together with my wife is the best thing taken from passed year. I hardly remember last piece of code I worked on, but I clearly see golden sun smoothly going down on the beach of Falassarna.
Overview of 2012
At the beginning of 2012 my life was about to change much once again. I changed my job, but this time it also meant change of a country. While we were finishing relocation paper work I tried to enjoy last month of being unemployed. I went skiing many times and slept well. Besides I released my e-book on design patterns.
Suddenly we appeared in Austria. Here is picture of me in front of my company’s logo at first day of our arrival:
Finding an apartment was a first challenge. After overcoming it and few others we almost stopped worrying. Starting in a completely different country and company with different mindset was extremely interesting and exciting.
After some acclimatization me and wife started to travel. Leveraging Schengen Area we really travelled a lot, I even did not expect that much. You will find complete list later on.
My professional life though did not thrive much in the past year. For sure I’ve improved my skills in many areas. For example my English has improved and a lot of new working experience was gained. I also learned some new to me approaches of delivering software and understood a lot about new company setup and its product available and used by millions. Additionally I introduced myself to few programming languages and did some pet programming.
Year ended with long vacation back in Ukraine together with my parents, friends and relatives. I wish I could be in many places at the same time.
Now lets look at each of the items I planned year ago in my 2012 “Where do you want to be in a Year?”.
- Buy a car in Europe (some used German car)
Car is a whole separate topic. Turns out that keeping car in Europe is quite expensive. Just mandatory insurance costs close to 100 Euro each month. Of course it depends on car size and your driving experience and can be much decreased if you willing to drive Matiz while having 9 years driving background.
I didn’t buy a car in 2012 for myself, but I bought people carrier for my father. It was first time I really leveraged from duty fee. 20% of taxes were returned when I brought back confirmation of exporting car out of EU. Well registering car in Ukraine is tough task and I’m glad I didn’t have to deal with it.
In addition I now hold Austrian driving license and proud to state that I passed an exam with my first try. It might sound ridiculous, but many friends I know here didn’t pass exam immediately, even they had some experience from Ukraine. Even 3 other fellows who tried to pass exam same day with me have failed. One try costs 130, printed license costs 90 and medical check 35. Total 225 euro just to get license if you already hold one from other country. If you want to pass it from scratch it would cost around 1,3K.
If you do the math, renting car is by far more cheaper and preferable over owning one if you only have some weekend trips time-to-time. Unfortunately I cannot drive to Ukraine by hired car. This year I drove Hyundai i40, Hyundai Accent, Opel Corsa, Opel Astra. As of not rented I drove Hyundai i20, Fiat Scudo carrying twice as many people as in normal car and finally I had a chance to drive my Chevrolet before I sold it. I think I like driving.
- Travel though major cities in Austria (Vienna, Salzburg, Linz, Graz, Innsbruck, Bregenz, Eisenstadt, Klagenfurt)
It would be a titanic work to write about all places we visited with my wife during passed 2012 year, but thanks to her there is report on each of our travel. Below is list in chronological order with links to her blog.
- Dubno-Rivne-Luts’k (still Ukraine)
- Vienna (dozen of posts on our life in this beautiful city here)
- Baden (Austria)
- Graz (Austria)
- Linz (Austria)
- Venice (Italy)
- Berlin (Germany)
- Whole week of Greece: start with Athens and continue to Kreta island beaches and adventures.
- Bratislava (Slovakia)
- More of awesome Alps, including ice cave and astonishing Hallstatt and Liechtensteinklamm
- Amsterdam (Holland)
- Brussels and Brugge (Belgium)
- Paris (France)
I won’t start commenting on those above, because it would take ages. If you can read Ukrainian you have all stories there, otherwise just see some pictures.
- Sport activities (have two-three summer hikes into the Alps & ski in the Alps)
I don’t have a bike. But you can ride one completely free of charge here in Vienna. You just register with your credit card and whenever you use bike less than 1 hour you are not charged. Me and wife used this to spend many summer days with joy and benefit for health. We also had one hike in Alps Reichenau an der Rax. So far I went skiing only once and not in so distant Alps. Want to ski in some “real” Alps.
Generally I’m not completely satisfied with completeness of this point. But environment in Austria is more suitable for active life. People ride, run, walk really lot in dozen of parks.
- Learn German for at A2 level (which is elementary)
Ich glaube meine Deutsch ist noch zu schlecht. I attended one intensive course and also joined language courses offered by my company. Placement test reckons me for A2 level. I doubt it being even close to truth, but I will continue with German in 2013.
- Improve English and rich C1 level (which is advanced)
Probably C1 is pre-advance. For sure I’ve improved my English. Online estimation gives me 7.7K known words versus 4.9K in the beginning of the year. But dictionary is very small portion of what can be considered as proficiency in a language. Fluency in speech is very important. Everyday work in English-speaking environment is a great advantage.
I have extensive blog post on languages I use here in Austria, called “Існує die Frage of Language. Или нет?”.
- Show kick-ass performance at work
For sure I performed really well. Many of my skills were noticed and acknowledged, especially technical ones. On the other hand I’m still lacking in self-confidence and communication skills and maybe some other soft skills. There is already one conference I’m going to visit to improve some of those. But I also doubt that I’m so bad in such things, as I have already been in role of tech lead and it was quite smooth. I think I need more time and motivation which is melting in new company.
- Get promotion (or get clear idea on career opportunities, if not possible)
I think I now have much better idea on career opportunities and raises. It is completely out of synch with what I expected when I just started. Have you seen films in which guys work years to get any promotion meanwhile fighting with others to be pick number one. Of course it is not that severe as in movies, but there are many factors which make it closer to movies than to Ukrainian IT reality.
- In Vienna find local .net community (user group, whatsoever) and join
As per me .NET user group here is marketing driven and besides is held in German so not something I can join easily, at least not for first years. Overall IT market is rather small here.
I’m too greedy to spend almost 2K euro on conference while videos can be downloaded later. It is exactly what I did. Watched dozen of those. Though I visited small conference kindly offered by company.
- Have new friends in Austria, who share same opinions
Many new friends, but I wouldn’t say that I have any Austrian as my real friend. Also by “same opinions” I largely meant interest in technical topics. It is even worse with that. I tried code and beer session and it didn’t go well. I hope it is just matter of time.
- Write couple of WP7 applications and post them to marketplace
Nothing in marketplace. Played a bit with couple of ideas, but gave up. Not sure I still want to do this. I wrote couple of Win8Metro applications for fun and also gave up. It would be not fair to say that I competed this point.
- Release “Design Patterns” Book – I have 1 month to do so
I’m happy to know that I didn’t leave Ukrainian IT without any of my contribution.
- Read 15 books (see my LinkedIn reading list)
I read 7 books and have way too many in progress. Us usual there are Book Reviews on my blog.
- Learn programming language(s). I will start with “7 languages in 7 weeks” and then pick up one for deeper insight (not compulsory from book)
This year I tried many programming languages. Here are my posts on each of the languages from the book:
- Discipline myself to get up at some certain time
We have daily standup meeting at 10:30 so it forces me to be up at latest at 10AM. I cannot say that I failed with this, but also not completely what I wanted.
- Have more public visibility and community impact
This year I had drastically much less public visibility than year before.
More to come
I’m planning to have blog post on working experience here in Austria in general and in comparison with Ukraine as it could be very interesting for many of you.
Next year is promising to be life changing once again!