Its been over two years since I packed my bags and moved from Lagos, Nigeria to Berlin Germany. My life has changed so much since then and I am now ready to start documenting and sharing some of these changes.
Moving from Africa to Europe was a supermassive change for me. I had to unlearn and relearn so many things and one of these things was my way of working. The way of working here is soo different from what I am used to and while there are Pross and Cons, I believe I have grown overall. Here are the most significant things I have learnt how to do better since I moved to Germany.
Have Detailed Conversations and discussions about topics
In my former way of working, when I was given a task, I would quickly try to understand what the task is about, the expected results and the resources that would be available to me, then I would get to work immediately. This principle worked for me in Nigeria because everyone was mostly concerned about results and speed!! No one really really focused on creating and monitoring processes in deeper details. When I moved, my team would be given a simple task like “Make the home button green” and my colleagues will create weekly meetings to discuss the task. I personally know green as green, but my teammates will discuss ” the shade of green, why exactly we are using green, where the green button will be used, the Hex code of the green, user impact of the green, AB test results of the green, cousins of the green, opposing colours on the colour wheel etc”..… I’m sure you get my point. A lot of meetings will be had about the green and the task in general. Naturally, I considered some of these meetings a waste of my time and I used to make decisions without these conversations until I got in so much trouble by producing results that were not satisfactory nor in alignment with my stakeholders’ needs. Now whenever I am given a task, I ALWAYS have follow-up questions. I don’t assume anything based on experience neither do I rush to produce results without first understanding the problem. I still don’t like that I have to attend a lot of meetings but I am working on a way to balance that.
Working slower and deliberately
Piggybacking on my former point, doing a lot of conversations means that sometimes, the pace of work is slower. People take their time to do their jobs. I find that there’s less emphasis on time and more on quality. Here people take their time with school, life, making decisions everything. While this is great to produce quality work, this less regard for time means that some things that are important to you cannot be fast-tracked. Currently, I am annoyed that I have to wait for over a month to get my visa renewed while in Nigeria I would have been able to pay extra to make things work faster for me… That option isn’t even available here.
I have never seen a group of people more finicky about their Data than people that live in Europe. It’s super interesting to observe as people are quite open about their personal life when you have one on one conversations with them. This is the complete opposite in Nigeria. I met someone here who doesn’t own a smartphone because she doesn’t want to be tracked by google/the government but was very open about her dating and childbearing struggles. I don’t mind being tracked by google but I will not tell a stranger about my dating life.
It’s so normal to see a person speak 3,4,5 languages effortlessly and that’s amazing. It’s also not seen as a sign of “Intelligence” It’s just what it is. A lot of websites have an English version and a local version, or a language picker. At work, I also try to use the simplest form of English as I know it’s not most peoples first language.
Rulesss: So many rules:
There’s a rule about killing bees, about the noise level, about minimum and maximum hours you can work, there are sooooo many rulesssss for so many things. I always have to seek double confirmation before I make a decision so I don’t get in trouble with the authorities. There are rules back home but they are… how do I say this nicely.. “ they are more subjective” .
Have you moved to a new place where you had to do new rules with work or school or in real life? Please share in the comment section below.