One month in California: completed. And a crazy month, it has been.
I started my new job at Apple, and while learned an impressive pile of new things, it feels like I don't know anything at all yet. I have immensely enjoyed working with the people at UIKit: it been a welcoming and fun environment, filled with smart and hard-working people. I can truly say I'm going to miss these folks when I get back to Belgium to continue my work there. I know I'm lucky to be living in this day and age where technology allows us to communicate so easily with each other, and technology will do it's best do make this remote adventure work. But it's more than the work... I'm going to miss the social part of working here: the hallway talks, the early morning breakfasts at Caffé Macs, the lunches with some of the team on our balcony, the lets-get-coffee-in-the-lobby trips. Those are not really part of work, but they really are (you see what I did there, right). I will get by without them, but I'm quite sure I'll miss those moments a lot.
On the other hand, I've missed my wife and kids immensely, so I can't wait to get back home to see, hear and feel them again. Again, FaceTime was a big boon in this case: when one of us felt the need to talk to the person on the other side of the ocean, a call was arranged quickly. I loved those moments, irregardless of their length. They always made me happy and gave me a boost to continue.
So yeah, these last few days I've been stuck with double emotions: I'm pretty sad that I have to leave this great workplace, and I'm pretty happy to go home.
But hey, "I'll be back"!
The last few weeks have been very different from the first two weeks. While the first were clearly about adaption and fitting in, these last 2 weeks felt more about making the best of my time here. I explored more, and felt more relaxed than I had been in the weeks before. Also, no more jetlag leftovers. All gone, baby.
Last weekend was the full last weekend I'd be here, so I took full use of the time I had. On Saturday, I spent the afternoon driving around Highway 1 along the Pacific Ocean. I drove from Santa Cruz to Half Moon Bay. I loved it. So quite, such nice views. I don't like do drive around, but this was a very relaxing trip, and it was a great opportunity for some nice pictures.
On Sunday I had arranged to meet up with Matthias and a colleague of him at Showpad to visit Alcatraz. I never made there it before during my trips to SF, but now seemed like a good moment. The weather was particularly good (given that we were past halfway through October), even at the island itself (which is apparently not that common). The whole visit was a bit too touristy for my taste. For example, there's an audio tour you can do which was fine in itself I guess but I would have preferred something else I feel. It felt too "well groomed".
We did have a bit of luck though: our group of 3 got a chance to visit the leftovers of the old Alcatraz citadel below the current prison building. Apparently the whole first floor of the citadel is still present underneath the prison, and I can be visited by small groups of 10. These visits are official, but kinda random: nothing really organized or scheduled. You just need some luck. I have to say: I loved that part. It's so crazy that everything is still down there in pretty good conditions. A place with quite a history, and you feel it.
And for the rest: I think I could get used living here (imagine that!). Americans still can't drive, but I learned how to adapt to that. I stopped eating junkfood (although the last few days are worse again since I don't want to throw away all the leftovers in my fridge). I slept a lot better by turning on the airco for a hour or 2 when going to bed; I guess the slightly cooler temperatures at night help a lot too. I actually had trouble getting in early in a few times, but I mostly made it more than early enough (finding a parking spot is a bitch otherwise). It takes a while to get used to the "fuck it, just do this" attidute most Americans seem to have here, but once you get the hang of it, it's cool. I'm going to miss paying for stuff by holding my Watch to a terminal. I'm going to need some getting used to driving manual again. I'm looking forward to be able to take my bike to go shopping (although that's technically a problem due to the length of my stay here, and not the place I am).
So yeah, that's it. It's been good, but it's time for the next step.
And before I go: a big, big shoutout to Steve Breen: this guy has been so incredibly supportive for me in the last month, I'm sure this whole ordeal would have been a lot more tough without him. I owe you one, buddy!
A second week of living in the United States. Two weeks already, time flies when you're having fun.
Some observations and highlights of one week in California:
And oh... Working at Apple has been great so far. Can't wait for more.
I've been a developer for while now... 18 years, to be exact.
I started in 1997, fresh out of university - without carrying any kind of degree, to be honest. I had learnt a lot there though: I had my first tastes of the internet there, and saw the web in its infancy, growing to a budding communication tool for a wide variety of people. And so I started in October 1997 as a web developer in an Antwerp-based company called iM@Gic. It was a fun place to work at, and we made some great sites there given the technology we had to our disposal (all coded in Perl, baby).
A tweet, 2 FaceTime interviews, a trip to Cupertino for 5 two-person interviews lasting a whole day (including lunch at the Caffé Macs), a bucketload of mails and 2 handfuls of international phonecalls.
That's what got me a job in the UIKit team at Apple.
It's safe to say it's been a crazy ride so far, and it's about to get even better.