It’s over :-)

It’s almost three years ago that my family and me arrived in the states and in 16 days we’ll fly back home to Munich, Bavaria, again. I worked for Yahoo! Inc. right in the center of the Silicon Valley and and their headquarters in Sunnyvale, CA. I’ve done backend Java development with a lot of Spring, a lot of web-based frontends, a lot of mashups and integration. I worked on admin scripts written in Groovy, on quick and dirty prototypes to showcase ideas, I fixed bugs. HTML5, CSS3, JavaScript, AJAX, Java, Groovy, Grails, Android, MySql, Tomcat, etc. are the buzzwords and technologies that come to my mind.

Times were sometimes challenging, sometimes boring, sometimes exciting… we went through a few interesting phases I guess. Yahoo! went through a lot of layoffs, right-sized it’s business and is just getting on track to kick ass again. Overall it was an awesome experience and I’d do it again, believe me!

I was not alone here, my family was with me. I think we *really* arrived here in California. Kids went to preschool and pre-kindergarten, my wife went to college, both me and my wife dialed 911 and I’ve been to an emergency room with one of the kids twice, including a funky ride in a paramedics van up to Stanford. I think we really lived here, we did not just work here. We lived here, relatives died back home and we could not visit that fast.

We visited the great places a lot of people dream of back in Munich. If they ever get to California, they’ll come during the summer months when there are way to many tourists everywhere. We enjoyed going to Lake Tahoe off-peak, snowboarding during the final days towards summer at Squaw Valley or visiting beaches around Santa Cruz that were totally empty and looked like pictures out of a travel magazine.

We had a great time, but we’re all ready to come to Munich, again, too. These days, a strange feeling surrounds us. It’s the feeling of finally coming home again, which is good and full of excitement, and the feeling of leaving this place that treated us well, which makes us a bit sad.

What I’ll personally miss most is the people here and the way they approach anything new. For an IT guy, being surrounded by people working at Yahoo!, Google, Twitter, Facebook and the tons of startups that exist here, too, is something you just have to miss. You can visit a different user group for whatever technology you’re interested any week – try that in Munich. Also, the Bay Area is a melting pot for all kind of cultures. This is probably one of the rare places multi-cultural integration really works. I’d say our minds were definitely broadened and are more willing to accept different ideas and cultures now that we lived here.

But we’re ready for Munich, too. As I am leaving Yahoo! and I am ready for something new, I am actively looking into Android and I am really fascinated by this amazing mobile platform. The picture on the left shows the Android riding a skateboard, which is also something we all look forward to: public transport :-) It might sound limiting to a lot of people in the US, but I can’t wait to hop on an S-Bahn that takes me downtown in about 10 minutes – downtown to Marienplatz, where I’ll likely enjoy a real Brezn and a real coffee in a real mug in a real cafe. We’ll leave the car in the garage all week and we’ll use it for trips over the weekend. All things we need for our daily life – groceries and other shops, kindergarten, public transport including munich airport – is reachable within 5-10 minutes by foot. I call that a good thing.

My wife will have the chance to begin working again, the kids will go to a German ‘kindergarten’ and we’ll pay a fraction of what we paid in the US for child care. Food will also be cheaper, but eating out will be more expensive. For electronics, some recent comparisons are not at all that bad, prices in Germany are roughly comparable to the US when it comes to the latest unlocked/non-contract Android phones for example.

Comparing all these things is really hard. For health care for example, we’ve always been treated well in the US. But that’s of course because Yahoo! has some excellent benefits. Knowing that a lot of Americans don’t have that makes me appreciate the ‘socialised medicine’ and the regulated health care system in Germany. Even though I’ll be paying more for health care, it feels good to know that nobody is left behind when it comes to these essential things in life.

16 days. I’m hacking some Android code whenever I have some time to get more experience, go to Android UG meetings and add a lot of people to my LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter follow lists. With my family we’re driving around, visiting places we know and love. We meet friends, many for the last time. We watch Netflix Streaming, the single media service I’ll truly miss (ok, I’ll also miss Google Voice…) .

Bye bye California.

Oh, and I’m back in September for JavaOne 2010 :-)


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