Feb 162011

So, now that introductions are done, I suppose I should let everyone know what is going on!

The short answer is: It looks like we will be moving to Germany.  Soon.

How did that happen?  That is a longer answer…

The Great Recession caught us pretty much off-guard and whacked us squarely on the jaw. David got laid off from Disney (Disney! Shouldn’t that be stable employment?) and had been job hunting for a while.  He wasn’t a “99 weeker”, as the newspapers have taken to calling it, but, well, lets just say the 2010s hadn’t been a great decade for us so far.  The silver lining, of course, has been that we have had a lot of family time together.  David even took primary with the kids’ education while I was spending more time on my writing.  Goodness all around.

Also, we had some fun imagining what life might be like should David land any number of bizarre, distant jobs.  There was the one in China, the one in Utah, the ones back east and the ones in England.  Each time he would apply someplace interesting we would look the location up online and fantasize about what it might be like.  A few months back David said “Oh, hey!  I filled out a job ap for Germany today.”  We had fun imagining life in the heart of Europe and David entertained us with his rusty High School German.  But, surprise surprise, they wrote back!

The kids and me at Disney

This particular job is for a game-play engineer.  So, they wanted him to take a coding test- not uncommon these days.  But, this test was supposed to be 8 hours long!  That is a lot of work for a job you don’t really expect to take, but we figured that if nothing else it would be good practice.  So, I gathered up the free tickets to Disneyland that the kids and I had earned for volunteering at a Microtrash Clean-up earlier in the year. Yes, there is a little irony that Disney played a role in David’s job acquisition process.  In any case, I made sure everyone was out of the house so David could concentrate on his test.  As we were coming back, he called to let us know that while he had done well on the test he hadn’t finished the final question, so he didn’t think we would be moving to Germany.  Ah well.  It was a fun day at Disneyland, anyways!

But, as you might guess, the story didn’t end there.  The German company wrote him back and encouraged him to finish the final question.  So, the next day he finished it up (realizing a trick he had missed the first time through) and sent it in.  A few weeks more went by.  Then they set up a phone interview.  That went well.  And, a couple more weeks went by before they asked David to do a Skype interview with them.  Every step seemed to take several weeks.

Now, despite being fairly well-developed geeks, I have to reluctantly admit that we had never used Skype before.  And, in fact, none of our computers even had a video camera.  So, we made a small investment and brought ourselves into the more modern age of computer video conferencing.  (Actually, turns out it is really simple!  Friends and Family, I expect you all to get set up so we can chat :)  Anyways, since Germany is 9 hours later than here, they set up the interview for the end of their work day and the wee hours of ours.  David interviewed with the CEO, a producer and one of the technical leads.  By the end of the interview the CEO leaned into the camera and said something to the effect of “Now, David, what I need you to do is think about what it will take to convince you to actually embark on this great adventure and come work with us here in Germany”.  Whoa!

The next day we sent him a letter detailing the sorts of things we were interested in.  We wanted to be able to earn enough for a family of 4 to live comfortably, have some time to travel, get some help with the move and be able to homeschool.  We also suggested that things like a committed contract and the ability to return to the States on occasion might help convince us to seal the deal.  A few days later he wrote back to say that what was “comfortable” would depend on our own perspective and that we could spend our vacations as we liked, but that homeschooling wasn’t an option in Germany.  There might be some chance that we could live in France, which does allow homeschooling, but he didn’t think it was likely.  And, of course they would help us move.  We were a bit discouraged by the tone of the letter.  But, still, we talked things over with the kids.  Surprisingly, they didn’t seem all that concerned about the potential of attending school in Germany!  Well, maybe “concerned”, but not afraid or adamant or upset.  Hmm, maybe this wasn’t such a far fetched idea after all…. More thought needed.

A few more weeks passed.  In the meantime, David had entered into a series of interviews with two other companies.  That was a rollercoaster and a half.  The first one said they would make an offer the next day, then got cold feet.  But, they still kept saying that he was their top pick and that they *might* make an offer to him soon.  The second one dragged their heels but kept picking back up again every time we thought they were done.  Apparently at one point they changed recruiting agencies and he had to start nearly from scratch.  I think he did 8+ phone interviews with them, plus a design test and a few other contacts.  Up-down, Up-down.  My stomach turned somersaults daily.

Next, David got email from the German producer, a friendly gentleman named Vladimir.  He was in LA and wanted to meet!  Well, heck.  Why not?  So, David met him at a local Web business where Vladimir had friends and they chatted for a couple hours.  During that time Vladimir impressed on David how cool they thought he was and said that the reason they were slow was because one of the main guys had just had a baby.  In any case, they would make an offer soon.  And, even if it was too low, David should still drop by anytime he was in Germany.  Cute :-)

Another week or two went by before we finally got an emailed job offer.  The money wasn’t great, but, it was doable and all our other concerns were covered.  Company paid trip to the US, 1 year contract firm, and they had hired a consulting firm to see if there was any way we could live in France with the kind of visa we needed.  David asked for 2 weeks to think about it.

Those were some stressful weeks!  My stomach was now permanently on a trampoline.  The other two companies kept talking, interviewing and asking us to wait.  David even had two phone interviews on Superbowl Sunday!  We were also trying to find out all we could about Germany.  And, Vladimir called back to say that the best of their research said that France wasn’t an option for non EU citizens.  He seemed pleased and surprised when David said that didn’t seem to be a deal breaker. 

Finally, on the last day of our 2 weeks, it became clear that while the other two companies liked David, neither one had an opening that they thought was a great fit at this moment.  We *could* wait and see if anything shook loose.  But, a bird in the hand- and a German bird at that- really seemed to be worth much more than a bush of possible birds in the future.  SO, we wrote back and accepted the job.

If you can find Strasbourg in France next to the Key, we will be just across the Rhine from there, SW of Stuttgart

Current Status
That was last Thursday.  True to form, everything has moved in slow motion since then.  Apparently the CEO is the one who needs to get the visa going, and he has been out sick with the flu.  Once they start the visa process, they will send us the contract and we will be off and running.  Until then, we just have an emailed job offer and a house that needs some SERIOUS culling.   I suppose it is not beyond imagining that things may go very south very fast, still.  But, at least at the moment, we are operating off the premise that we will be in Baden-Württemberg in a little over a month!

  5 Responses to “Plot and Setting -or- Where are We Now and How did we Get Here?”

  1. Welcome to the blogosphere, Steph. Look forward to reading your further adventures in Europe.

    Like the title. Kept trying to parse it as “An American in Paris”, which put me on my toes.

    In 2005, I stayed with friends who were living in Wurtzburg, about an hour north of where you will be near Stuttgart.

  2. Thanks Bernard. Seemed about time. :)

    How long were you in Germany?

  3. Love the title and love hearing the details of your new adventure. Looking forward to more :)

  4. Best wishes to you and your family as you set out on this wonderful adventure. What a fantastic turn of events!

    All my best!

  5. Thanks Holly! You are my blogging inspiration :-)

    And, Thanks Chuck! Koroneberg keeps creeping into my thoughts :) Eat Dessert First, indeed!

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