How life changes

There are many things I don’t do well in life, story telling is definitely one. I have stared a blank page for 30 minutes now trying to put into simple words the last 6 months of my life and so far I’ve been successful in keeping it blank, not exactly for lack of events to report, but because it feels like trying to do a cart-wheel after years of physical inactivity - the brain simply doesn’t know what to do. This is an amazing subject and I’ll be sure to work on it in the future, but for now, let me try to tell you what’s been happening with my family and I in the past 6 months.

Item #1 - This isn’t Setubal any more

Let me give you a brief timeline of Summer 2012 for the Ramalho outfit:

  • June 27th : first contact from a recruiter via, surprisingly, my blog and not LinkedIn, with a possible job in Dublin. Unlike other recruiters and contacts I had this year, this guy was actually human [1] and it was the first contact that I actually felt like following through.
  • Thorough most of July we did a few Skype interviews and a technical test. (Calm and cool)
  • July 23rd : I was invited to fly to Dublin and spend a day at the company being interviewed, having with the team and doing some pair-programming (stressed)
  • August 6th: Did the interview (stressed)
  • August 7th: Got formally invited to join the company (happy days)
  • August 23rd after we took a few days to rest and visit the beach we replied back and committed with the move (Happy Days)
  • August 23rd + 1 hour : We realised what was about to happen :) (stress)
  • September 21st - my last day at Sapo (very emotional day for me)
  • September 28th - October 6th - house hunting (intense)
  • October 12th - our last day in Portugal (sad and intense)
  • October 15th - First day on the job for me and first day at school for Child #1 (exciting times)

A lot happened in between, considerable amounts of detail that I’ll either handle separately now that I decided to commit to writing more - I have a bit to say about Sapo and the years I spent there and how hard it was to leave - but everything seemed, and more so now, to go by like a blur.

Item #2 - Kids realise not all humans speak the same

So by the time I was starting my first day on the job, my eldest - 6 years old then - was starting school. Now, here’s the list of challenges he had to face:

  • The school uses mainly English but teaches and uses under certain contexts Irish
  • Kids in Ireland start school - proper school - at the age of four, and two years in they know how to read and write - and they obviously know the language
  • While the school provides extra English lessons they are not personal, not Portuguese specific
  • The school is Catholic - not an obstacle for him, but it’s something we need to account for
  • He’s shy as hell heck :)

So obviously we had concerns, a lot of them [2], but to our utter surprise it’s been easier that anticipated. He now has one or two stable friends at school, he does very well at maths - makes sense, the symbols are the same and it’s mostly language agnostic - , knows a few Irish words :) , has gone a long way in terms of writing [3], understands a bit of English even if he still doesn’t speak all that much. Even more surprising for us was seeing him during a Christmas School Play actually participating instead of hiding away behind someone or playing statue.
All going well by summer time he’ll know three languages and can related to most of the Algarve’s summer population :)

Item #3 - This isn’t PHP anymore

Professional wise, a very large chunk of my professional life revolved around PHP, sprinkled with some Ruby in which I’m now completely immersed, not only that, we’re a startup and that brought a lot of good memories back, everything is different, we’re much (by several orders of magnitude) closer to the end product, to real results, it’s raw responsibility and that fits my experience and way of thinking quite nicely. English has also become my main means of communication which pleases me considerably - not because I don’t like my native tongue, I do, but I welcome the practice and the change - and because we have a multinational, despite small, team we get to experience a lot of cultural aspects and diversity and that to pleases me :) .

Chapter 19231 over, next season started already

It’s funny, while it’s obviously not the first time I mention this move it is the first time I sit down and force myself to relive a bit of the details of it all and I’m finding it bigger now that I’ve felt while actually doing it - which stands to reason of course, we took it one step at the time and while there’s a lot of details missing, this actually accounts for one hundred steps at a time :) .

It’s been a great ride so far, we’ll keep going forward, there’s still too much left to do :)


  1. one particular recruiter tried three times to get me to Gibraltar when I specifically told him how much I hate the heat and how much I wouldn’t want to go there and each time he apologised and said “I will update my records”, clearly that was never the case.  ↩
  2. and yes, we acknowledge that doing a move such as this is a choice we grown-ups make not only for ourselves but also for the kids and it’s hardly what we can cleanly call “fair”.  ↩
  3. very important cultural change, in Portugal not only do we start school later but kids learn cursive writing instead of the block style they teach here  ↩