After a little more than two and a half years, today is the final day with the Crossmedia team at Burson-Marsteller, before I take a week off and start my new job in the Lorraine district of Bern with “web factory” !frappant. It’s been a fascinating time here and I’ve learned a great deal; particularly from colleagues and friends across the whole of Europe, who are such experts in their fields of design, communication, p.r. and marketing. I’ve made good friends here and will stay in touch with many of them. What I’ve learned through my time here about myself is that I’ve needed to “come out of my shell” more, which has been made possible by the warm and welcoming reception I received when I arrived and which has remained ever since.
One of the best things I’ve gained whilst being here – aside from the friendships – has been re-gaining the ability to be proud of my nationality and not feel that I have to speak German all the time. Where I used to work, I was encouraged daily to fit in as much as I could and speak German: “you’re in Switzerland now, so you should speak our language”. That was great encouragement for learning the language but the fact that I now have friends – both German, Swiss and from elsewhere – who like to speak English enough to have their own club for it means that I feel more welcome in the country. I’ll leave the story about characteristics of many mountain-dwelling folk for another time, but suffice it to say that the move to work in Switzerland’s capital, where foreigners are common and the view to far horizons is metaphorically and literally much wider, was the best one I’ve made in career terms in many years.
Work has been very slow for the past weeks and so it’s a strange feeling for me here today; not really much to wrap up and all that remains is to delete the personalized information from my computer here; browser bookmarks (happily backed up using delicious), data for programmes such as Tweetdeck and Gmail Notifier, and Keychain access to the many online services I’ve used for FTP, hosting and the like. I stopped off at Migros in Bern Bethlehem this morning to collect the obligatory platters for my leaving drinks (“apéro“) and there’s wine and beer chilling in the fridge too, for those few of my colleagues who aren’t either on holiday or otherwise occupied today.
I’m spending next week “cramming” for new techniques and systems – primarily PHP-based CMS TYPO3 – so that I can transition from the conceptual and communications-heavy work I’ve been doing here and start my new job on 4th April up to speed on these new technologies. It’s going to be a challenge and one which I’m looking forward to after moving away from programming over my time with B-M. Moving back into programming work and spending all my time doing hands-on creative work will be a great change for me: one which will be hard work for the first few weeks with the new company, but one which will both challenge and motivate me.