Please Don’t Make Me Say “Mambuvian”

Money, I’m glad to see you again. Funemployment, I miss you already.

This week I joined the Dutch workforce as an instructional designer for Mambu. Mambu sells cloud-based banking software, which admittedly doesn’t quite have the sexy cachet of “I work at Apple.” But after 17 years at the World’s Biggest Corporation, they’re just the sort of employer I’d been hoping for: a smallish company that’s growing fast and gives me the opportunity to contribute in a foundational way. 

On Monday morning I biked, trammed, and walked my way through the spitting rain to the super-slick office building on the river where Mambu (normally) occupies the 14th floor. As you’d expect for pandemic times, I was ushered across an empty floor into a conference room with three other new hires, where an IT guy handed us MacBooks and helped us complete our onboarding process. It wasn’t the grand entrance one would hope for with a new career, but there *were* free snacks and a welcome box with Mambu-branded trinkets. 

By Monday afternoon I was back home and seated at my new home office—that being the corner of our bedroom with a space just big enough for the smallest desk Ikea sells. I’m facing the window, so it’s not the worst WFH situation, but I’ll be more than ready to at least occasionally visit the HQ.

I neither expected nor got a riveting first week—it’s been a lot of app downloads, password setups, and hi-how-are-ya’s with my new coworkers1. I’ve also completed a bunch of required new-hire training courses, which is rather meta, since my team wrote the courses; I’m meant to understand the content but also to own it moving forward.

I’m excited about the job. It’s a warm fuzzy feeling to feel qualified for the work I’m doing, to have smart ideas about how I can help make the training better. I’ve got good first impressions about the company too, which has strong diversity and anti-harassment policies and just hired a Director of Sustainability (she was one of my three fellow new hires!). 

Meanwhile, my residency in Nederland is past the five-month mark. I’m less than a week from reaching a 1,000-day streak in Duolingo, and coincidentally am almost done with the *entire* Dutch Duolingo course. Final verdict: while Duolingo will IN NO WAY make you conversational in a new language on its own—and is often frustratingly obtuse about how Dutch people *actually* speak2—it’s still a great way to soak up common words and phrases to the point that you can almost-but-not-quite interpret the latest De Speld headline.

Which reminds me: we are officially OVER the weather. I knew what I was in for, moving to northern Europe in the wintertime, but I’d at least hoped for a lovely spring as a reward. Instead—with a few gloriously sunny days excepted—Amsterdam had its coldest April in 35 years, and May isn’t doing much better. But it’s spring just the same: tulips and peonies are in abundance, and the days have reached an alarming length, with light lingering in the sky well past 10pm and starting up again around 5am. I’ve got to wear my eyemask to have any hope of sleeping until the alarm goes off. By midsummer it’ll almost never be completely dark outside.

Wish me luck.
  1. Both my boss and my boss’s boss (and myself) are American expats. ??
  2. Duolingo consistently teaches you that the word for “sandwich” is boterham, when literally everybody calls it a broodje.

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