Last week, precisely on the 19th of December, it was my "expat anniversary" - one year since I came to live in Amsterdam. The year of 2013 represented a big, outstanding change in my life - a truly watershed.
It's not only moving from a country to another, or a change of culture - which is already a big thing. It's changing from the third world for the first world, it's finally having access to many things that I could not reach before, getting to know people that I once, eventually, read blog posts that helped me solve my "phproblems" - as for Matthias Noback, whose blog I had in my favorites way before even thinking about living here. He was the speaker on the first AmsterdamPHP meetup I went to, a funny coincidence for me.
All these changes would never be possible without my husband Hugo. Although I always had the idea that he didn't like big changes, actually he is the big responsible for our "migration" and the first person I should thank for this :)
Something that I heard countless times this year: "why would you want to leave Brasil and come live here?!?!" - of course, only people who don't really know Brasil could ask such question. Although I love my homeland, it's definitely not the best place to live and work. Even harder in my hometown, where the few relevant IT companies are more like medieval slavery institutions. Even the coffee might be rationed to cut expenses - I was there. And if I start to list the other problems we have in Brasil, I won't stop writing before the new years eve :)
I can't say I don't miss Brasil - I miss my family and friends, and I miss the feeling of "being local". I will never be able to express myself in other languages, including English, like I do in Portuguese; sometimes this is frustrating, and I know it pushes me back from feeling more integrated, to make friends, to join activities. Specially considering that I don't speak any Dutch yet. Everybody here speaks English, but of course it's not the same for integration, you need to eventually learn Dutch.
But these reasons are not enough for making me want to come back, not even close. This first year in Amsterdam was one of the best years in my life; I was even able to bring my mom here, to visit me and get to know Europe for the first time. A great achievement for me.
I made new friends, I went to my first PHP Conference, I presented a talk for the first time in English, I got accepted as speaker for amazing Conferences, I learned many many things. And I earned my first elephpant :) Among all amazing things that happened this year, "in da first world", there's one thing that changed all, that helped me in many ways and pushed me to bigger challenges in my professional life - most part of my achievements this year would not be possible without it: the PHP community.
Although I program in PHP since 2003, I was never really part of the community. As I said before, the reality in Brasil is very different, also regarding user groups and conferences. Now I can see how isolated I was there. A special THANK YOU for the AmsterdamPHP community, which welcomed me and made me feel at home. Thanks Rafael Dohms for keeping the community strong, you are a great leader. Thanks Michelle Sanver for being an inspiration, for bringing happiness all around us. Thanks Pascal, Frank B and Frank J, Cees-Jan, n0xie, Jimmy, Ross, and all the other friends I made here. And I would like to wish all the PHP community around the world an excellent Christmas, and that in 2014 we can keep "building the Internet" together, bringing more awesomeness to the web and to the PHP world \o/
*sorry for possible grammar and general English mistakes :) I'm not a native English speaker as you all shall know already ;)