From Ghent with love

posted 6 months ago in Web | 6 min read

It has been a month now that I moved from the small city Schleswig near the Danish border to Ghent in Belgium. So I spent some time on thinking about my kind of hasty decision to leave Germany and move to an entirely new place.

The city

My first day in Ghent was already enough for me to know that I was going to enjoy Ghent. Those who know me will also know that there is no European city that I love more than Oslo (tbh I haven't visited Lisbon yet). And right after Oslo comes Amsterdam. And for me Ghent feels like kind of a mix of those cities.

The city is much smaller than both of them. But it can be as vivid as Amsterdam, but at the same time as calm as Oslo can be. Perfect, right?

In the following days after my arrival I spent some days exploring the city by running through it. (Yeah, I started running again). When I moved to Schleswig, I made the huge mistake to move there in November. Fucking cold and depressing at that time. I learned from it and my first days in Ghent were full of sun. I think I even already had more sunny and really hot days than I had in the entire last 1.5 years in Schleswig.

Ghent

The job at Teamleader

Moving to another city also meant to start a new job. This does not have to be the case anymore thanks to remote working possibilities, but I needed that change. So in May I started as a back-end engineer at Teamleader. And even after a month, I'm quite happy about working here and even a bit proud to be part of such a company. Why? Let me explain you.

The company

Before I joined Teamleader I always worked as a freelancer, so always on my own. Then I moved to Schleswig and joined a small agency of six people. But at Teamleader there are way more. I think we are like something around 180 people here (here equals at Teamleader which has offices all around Europe). That is a totally new experience for me. I already had worked for bigger companies as well in my time as a freelancer but that's a totally different feeling here.

The people

Moving to Ghent was a big step for me. It is a new job in a city that I've never visited before, in a new country with a language that I do not speak yet. But everybody at Teamleader has been really welcoming. Even before my first day at the office I already felt like being part of them. That really surprised me (of course positively). Everybody at Teamleader is super communicative which helps a lot to get integrated not only in the company but also in Ghent.

The first days

Having communicative people around me made my first days at Teamleader really enjoyable. It was my first time that I went through a entire on boarding process, so I can't compare that to other companies, but at Teamleader they really care about their newbies and make sure that they feel comfortable. Together with some other new colleagues I got introductions to all parts of the company in which they made sure that I learn how the product works (which is useful when your job is to build new features for the product), but they also made sure that we understand the philosophy behind this company. Why do we build the product the way we do? Who are the people we build this product for? That helps me to understand decisions and also helps me to envision how my day-to-day jobs will/can impact the whole business.

The job

In addition to the company-wide introduction, I also got an extra more in-depth introduction to the engineering department and how we build stuff here. I went for Teamleader because of their philosophy of continuous learning. To learn as much as possible in the short period of time I'm going to be alive is one of my life goals, so why not use the working hours to learn and improve as well? Before joining this company I was a Laravel developer only. So almost all of my projects would start with laravel new or laravel-package generate. But at Teamleader we don't use Laravel (yet). But the reason is not that Laravel is not good enough or something like that. It's more because of the philosophy. The product we build at Teamleader is designed with the DDD philosophy in mind. So starting at the architecture (we have a lot of micro services), over the way we structure our codebase to the way we name our variables, we have the certain domain in mind. Before I joined Teamleader I have never worked the DDD way, so I can not say if we are doing well or not, but I see it as a good opportunity to get into this field. I already ordered the "Blue Book" to learn the theoretical way of DDD and I am super excited to learn more and more about it. So in my first days as a developer I got introductions for everything I should know: Front-End, Back-End, Infrastructure, and Workflows. I also got a higher level overview on why we work the way we do right know. Learning all the technical side of our product also made feel that my decision to move to Ghent was a good one. Like even though I know quite a lot there is even more that I can learn and there is so much space to improve. That's kind of a dreamland for me <3 Another great thing is how our dev team is structured. You know how teams at Spotify are structured? Like with their squads, tribes and chapters, which I most refer as the "Spotify model"? We have something similar at Teamleader as well. I always wanted to experience how working within the "Spotify model" would be and now I have my chance. There is plenty of room for improvement but our our team is open enough to talk about it and make progress. Teamleader and with it our engineering team have grown really fast and knowing that our teams are well structured and harmonize quite well.

The language

I've already written too much but there is another thing I would like to mention: Speaking Dutch. Before I moved to this place, I was pretty confident that I would learn Dutch quite fast. I am still that confident as Dutch is not that much different than a mix German, English & Norwegian, but I somehow realized that I have to dedicate some time on really learning it. Different to the experience I had with other languages, I'm speaking way too much English here. And to be able to work, I have to do so. So the approach "learn Dutch by living here" doesn't work that much. But instead I will try out another approach. If that does not work out, I will just take some classes this fall or winter. Teamleader even supports that, so I do not worry that much about it.


As you can see, I am pretty happy about being here. I love the place, the people and my job. Quite satisfying, right? I hope it will be like this for the upcoming months as well. If you want to see what I am doing all day, just follow me on social media. Mostly Twitter and Instagram. If you want to join Teamleader, feel free to checkout their website. I am pretty sure that we want some more colleagues ;)