One year ago, we knew little about what 2020 would bear in mind for us. But at New Year’s Eve, my husband and I made a decision to do something that we had been planning for a long time. We would relocate from Gothenburg, where we had lived for more than 25 years, to London!
One year earlier I had started my own company and was working as a contractor. My plan was to find contracts via my social network, but when moving to London I felt I needed something more to stand out in the competition. So, I started this website. Two months later something very unexpected happened to the whole world, the Coronavirus made its entrance.
Coronavirus arrived like a stone thrown into a still pond.Tom Whipple, The Times
We decided to fulfil our plans anyway. New schools, new house, new friends, restart career.
As I’m very sentimental, I tried to not make a big deal of leaving our home country. We thought that we would soon meet our friends and family again and with social media and online meetings distances have shortened. Before leaving Sweden, we spent a few weeks with my parents in their house at a lake deep into the Swedish forest, as always finding one reason or another to arrange a party for our relatives. After that we headed off to London.
Settling in London
It’s impossible to describe in a few words all that we have experienced here in London. We’ve felt so welcomed by the people and the city is so beautiful! We combine the small village life in Barnes with being part of one of the biggest cities in Europe. Although we felt caught in some catch 22 situations when it comes to administration, everything has been rather smooth and we’re well settled now.
Every weekend we go in to London (as far as allowed by Corona restrictions), walking in different areas trying to familiarise with the big city. For me, who has spent all my visits shopping on Oxford Street before I moved here, it’s been an eye opener!
What would I do for a living?
For the first time in my life quit my job without having a clue of what to do next. It was a bit scary, of course. At the same time it was a relief to get a few months for reflection, and needless to say, there were a lot of practical things to take care of concerning the relocation. But I also got time to write on my blog and to study new technology and to try out a new programming language.
I soon learned that the freelancing rules were about to change in the UK, which put shortly will make freelancing much less attractive. So, I started to look for a permanent job instead. I reached out to recruiters and uploaded my CV to some job sites, I went through tests and online interviews, recorded myself on video and talked to a lot of people. I must admit it was a huge challenge. But, sooner that I thought, I could sign for a remote job at a company named Cegedim located in Manchester.
My new workplace
Even though I’ve been working in international contexts on and off all my work life, I’ve never been employed in another country before. It has turned out to be a very pleasant experience. I’ve got the chance to work with an architecture and technology that is very interesting and challenging, while at the same time being part of a fantastic company. Everybody is so nice and helpful, we learn together, and psychological safety is important. A lot of things I’ve been striving for during the last years, seems already implemented here.
I’m also part of a great team with teammates located both in UK and Egypt. We are of different ages, different nationalities and, as all of us work remotely, most of us have never met in person. But we are working excellent together to solve the challenges of going live with a new product, writing great code, and delivering new functionality to the business.
Time for writing
After getting time to focus on my writing, and also starting to participate in a few meetups, I was asked to publish some of my blog posts as articles on the London Tech Lead website. This made me delighted but also more confident that what I’m writing is something that people actually want to read.
I also got very good response on one of my blog posts on my own site that was viewed almost 900 times on a few weeks. In total my website has been visited by people in 66 different countries.
It is fascinating that the developer community is so global. This is something I wasn’t really aware of before. Even though I get almost all my knowledge on developer forums and blogs, I have never thought about where the other people are situated.
When I started my website my daughter Lisa and I made a presentation that we called, as a bit of a joke, “The programming lady”. We had a lot of crazy ideas about fashion and coding which (luckily) never took off. But in the brainstorming phase you must try out different thoughts, right?
Instead, I started very simple by writing most of the texts and using only one picture of myself, placed on the front side. But I soon realized that it’s hard to make a great website without professional pictures. So, a friend and I headed to Stockholm for styling, makeup and a whole day of taking pictures. Except the beautiful pictures, the photoshoot itself is one of the best things I’ve done. So fun and flattering!
But as Bill Gates says: “Content is King”. In the long run it’s the blog that keeps up the interest for a website. It’s been a lot of hard work. In the beginning I had to ask my relatives to visit the website to get any clicks at all. But after a year I have had over 4000 views by 2000 visitors, which of course is not much considering there are around 26 million developers in the world. But anyway, something I never ever dared to dream about!
We all suffer from the implications of the Coronavirus in one way or another, and that’s something that is shadowing everything we do. I think we in the long run will see some positive things coming out of it, and I’m more and more hearing people discussing what that might be. But for the moment, with the Christmas in many ways cancelled here in London, life is a bit dull.
It’s ironic that for me personally this exciting year happened at the same time as the whole world suffered from this virus. I’m thankful for the good things and I also want to thank all of you for your great support during the year! Take care of yourself and your families and let’s hope that next year will be the one when we beat the pandemic.