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Back to Work

We’re back to work now.

I started Monday, and Vanessa started up again today.

To recap – we both work from home full time, with occasional in-person meetings with clients. We figured if we can work from OUR home, then we can probably work from ANYONE’S home. And then we went even further and guessed we could probably work from anyone’s home in EUROPE! So here we are.

But we started the trip in Southern France (which sounds less pretentious than “the South of France”, right?), so we decided that week would be a vacation. I’m glad we did that because it let us get somewhat acclimated to the time change. “Acclimated” in this case, means somehow the kids got onto a sleeping schedule of midnight – 11 or noon, and I was more like 2 – 10. We sort’a did it on purpose (or didn’t fight it) because we’ll be working 4-midnight at best, and sometimes later shifts depending on meetings and client needs. But that meant we weren’t getting out of the house until 1 or 2 in the afternoon.

Meanwhile, we went to the Orange (Verizon of France) store in downtown Sete earlier in the week and got new pre-paid SIM cards for our phones; Made sure we had reliable Internet at the house; and upgraded our Skype accounts to $3/mo for calling land lines in the US (3 frikin’ dollars! And Skype works on the mobile phones too – though it does eat up data usage). We’re all set on the technology front.

Monday comes around and I have a meeting at 7:00PM. We had gone back down the beach in the early evening, and being the showoff that I am, I didn’t put too much energy in getting back in time, and took the meeting from the beach…in (this time it is pretentious) the South of France. I used my mobile phone because “hey, I have a mobile plan”, and the International rate of calling the US ate up my free $5 credit-toward-anything and my $20 card plan didn’t include international calling. So I called back into my meeting with Skype – as I should have done in the first place – and connected ok initially, but after a few seconds of me apologizing for falling off the call the first time, the quality drops and I can’t hear or say anything.

Fail

This working from abroad thing isn’t going to be a walk in the park.

So I walked back to the house, by which time I missed the meeting, but in the end, really, everything worked out with the client.  I wish I tried to start a little slower though. It turned out I had forgotten to disable WiFi on the phone, so I wasn’t using the mobile data. Instead, I was using France’s Free WiFi, I was getting France’s Free WiFi’s quality.

Lesson learned!

Sete-WorkstationBut now to get into the working groove. I set up a workstation for myself. I stand at my desk most of the time, rather than sit. So I got something set up, and can look out the windows at the Mediterranean as I work. That doesn’t suck. You can’t see it in the picture because of the lighting, but the lower half of what looks like an all-white sky in the picture is actually blue sea. A picture tells a thousand words, and sometimes a few more words are needed to fully describe the picture.

Day two: I accepted a meeting at 4:30PST. That means 1:30 – 2:30 in morning here. That should be fine, right? That’s what I signed up for. Except we moved from Sete to Brussels yesterday, and had to get up at 7:30 to catch a 9:02 train, and then travel most of the day, and settle in, and figure out everything we’d need in the new house, and learn that Orange doesn’t actually have coverage in Belgium as we were led to believe.

But I made it. Thank you Skype…and coffee, and a short nap.

And now it’s Day 3. We got new SIMs for Belgium and learned how to make cheap Intl calls without Skype if that’s what we need to do, so that’s all good. And I’m working a full day (including writing this, or course), and had a few meetings, and we juggled the kids, and dinner, and bedtime, and more meetings, and it’s all good. We’re tired for sure, but I think this is going to be fine.

Stay tuned.

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