I'm moving to Germany!

I’m moving to Germany in March! I took a position as a researcher at HLRS (in Stuttgart, Germany), where I’ll be working primarily on SODALITE.

I’m really excited about this for a number of reasons. The largest is simply that I miss being in a research environment. I miss being around people thinking about big problems in a variety of ways, just for the fun of thinking about them. Over the last few years, I’ve published two papers, been issued a patent, and spoken at three conferences. Only one paper and one speaking event were through work and that was a rather unique opportunity. I find the process of starting with a problem and building up a novel and unique solution to be really fulfilling. If engineering is the process of building things, research is the process of proving things can be built. And it turns out I enjoy both parts and am most fulfilled when doing some of both.

This does mean leaving HPE/Cray. I’ve been there six years and worked on 3 separate pieces of systems management software for supercomputers. I’ve met and worked with really amazing people. I’m going to miss my coworkers and I’m going to miss the work. But this new position brings new challenges and new experiences – and space for new growth. I’m a good engineer, a good developer and even decent at architecting software. But this new position will stretch me in a different direction – it’s going to have a lot more communication. In addition to helping write papers, I’m going to help write reports that go to the EU Commission. As I’ve worked on bigger and bigger things at Cray, the more I find that communication – the ability to clearly articulate thoughts to multiple people and make sure everyone is moving toward the same goal – is critical to being able to build world-changing software. And since my goal is building world-changing software, that means I need to be the best communicator I can be.

This position also comes with the possibility of doing a PhD, after I’ve been employed for a year. I have always wanted to do a PhD, but have not found a topic that I feel I could commit to and dive in to at the depth required for a PhD. But finding something related to work I’m already doing (and hopefully enjoying) feels much more achievable.

One of the other parts of this I’m looking forward to is experiencing a different culture (and getting to be part of it, I hope!). I never studied abroad in college, nor have I traveled particularly widely. I’d like to fix that and living somewhere is certainly a way to do so!

So me, my partner, my two cats and her dog are all picking up and moving to Germany.

Writing about it

I’m going to try to write about the process and experience of moving. If nothing else, this will help me be less of a perfectionist about my writing. Prose (unlike code) can always be tweaked further and further. There’s no “good enough to work”, the way there is with code. As a perfectionist, this means I often sit down to write prose and never finish it, never think it’s good enough to send off. For the last year and a half, I’ve kept a daily journal. That’s helped a lot with writing paralysis. But there’s a big difference between writing a journal for my own record and writing something that I intend others to read!

My plan is to write this in two parallel threads. First there’s the process of preparing (before departure), And second there’s what happens after arrival. As I sit writing this, I’m actually mostly ready to apply for my visa and preparations for departure are reasonably well set. I’ve got notes on what happened at various stages, but not anything written with meaningful prose. So I’ll write that as I’m able to catch up with it. But at the same time, I’ll be there in Germany learning and adjusting and I don’t wish to delay writing about that.

But there’s a Pandemic on!

Yes, there is. And that’s going to make everything more complicated. That’s another reason to write about this. There’s a ton of stuff online about moving to Germany. There’s much less about moving to Germany when you can’t merely show up at the border and be allowed entry. And there’s next to nothing about international moves during the pandemic. This is an experience that will be unique – for better or for worse. And that makes it worth recording.

So Watch this Space

So watch this space for more about moving to Germany! I’m going to tag all posts about moving to Germany with “Germany”, those about preparing with “Germany Preparations” and those after arrival with “Life in Germany”.

This will be an adventure and I hope my writing does it justice so you can enjoy riding along!