Spartez is known for attracting the best talents from all over the world! This time we would like to share with you a story of Victor Debone - our true diamond who came to us from São Paulo, Brazil!
So Long São Paulo, Greetings Gdańsk!
I can honestly say that I had never thought I would be living and working in Poland before I applied for the position with Spartez. In fact I wasn’t even looking for a new job. I had been working in São Paulo, with some awesome people, but when I saw the vacancy I thought ‘Hey, why not apply!’
Poland? It’s cold there!
You might be thinking how does a person living in Brazil find out about a job in Poland, especially when he isn’t even looking for one? I had entered a competition that Spartez was sponsoring and, along with a nice t-shirt, I received a pamphlet about the Company and a vacancy for a web developer. It looked interesting so I thought I would apply, but you know what, I didn’t get it. I didn't give up that easily so I applied for the position of webmaster and I am very pleased to say I was successful.
It was only following the job offer that I started to talk to people about what I was doing. The responses I received were generally ‘What? Poland? It’s cold there!’ I had never been to Poland before; the closest my ventures had taken me was Berlin. From the moment I took part in the competition through to my arrival in Poland my whole experience had been well and truly a digital one; I hadn’t had face to face contact with anyone. I had my concerns. After all I could have arrived here and found that nothing existed and it was some kind of scam. If things didn’t work out then I might not have been able to just grab my stuff and jump on the next flight. However, I’m happy to say that my journey here went without any problems and on my arrival here I realised there was no reason for these concerns.
My first thought was ‘Poland – let’s see what’s there’. I had no expectations, which meant that I could not be disappointed once I got here. Poland was far too exotic for me to be able to comprehend what it would be like. Now I am here I even find the infrastructure of Gdańsk comparatively better than that of São Paulo. There is always something happening here and there is no shortage of live concerts or other events taking place. Getting home after a night out is no problem – having 24 hour public transport is just amazing. The safety aspect is also a huge positive for me. In Brazil it is not so safe, but in Gdańsk you just don’t need to worry.
Life and the language
For me, the only thing that gets in the way is communication – a basic skill that you take for granted your whole life. Suddenly you don’t know how to read or speak to people. The company provides Polish classes, which I have been attending for the past six months. I am now a bit more comfortable as I do understand some words and that is really helping me to get by. My Native tongue is Brazilian Portuguese (not Spanish as most people think) and many of the sounds in both languages are similar so I seem to have the ability to remember things with great ease. I try to speak in Polish in restaurants, but the waitresses usually reply in English and I think ‘Oh, they’ve worked out I’m not a native’.
The working culture at Spartez is very different; in Brazil it is a much more work-centred life. I arrived here, in a place where, from my perspective, they were taking care of everything. It was so strange to me that I was skeptical at first; the company was dealing with so many things for me.
The work schedule took some getting used to as well. In Brazil we usually have one hour for lunch – it is a regulated thing that has to be adhered to and is also unpaid. At Spartez it’s a little different; people just tend to meet in the kitchen and have a quick bite to eat, and then get straight back to work. Although I don’t get an hour for lunch, this new perspective certainly has its benefits. I remember an episode when I joined the Company, I signed up to play volleyball with my new colleagues (one of several activities that take place at Spartez). The game started at 4 o’clock and one guy was calling me half an hour before saying ‘Come on we have to go’. I was thinking ‘Hang on, I haven’t done my full shift – how can I leave?’ I envisaged my boss saying to me the next day, ‘Thanks for coming, but you are not giving enough’; I was very concerned. Eventually I went to the game and my job was still safe in the next day. Now I am tuned to this flexible approach and I would find it difficult to go back to the old style of working. There are way less constraints and it really works well for me. If I turn up at 10 o’clock one day it is fine, if I am having a bad day then I can leave early and clear my head. Other days when I feel really energised then I will start at 7 o’clock and work right through to the evening.
I have come here on my own and I think it is probably easier than with a partner or family. I have much more freedom so I can do what I want, when I want. It is a unique experience and I don’t know whether it would be possible to find such an opportunity again.
Accommodation here is pretty good. On my arrival I stayed at a hotel close to the office until I managed to find an apartment. It was quite strange being asked by the accommodation agency whether I would like to be near a park or close to the beach; it's not common to choose like this in Brazil. I was also surprised that it was possible to rent a fully furnished property. You don’t need to buy anything – it’s just great. The cost is also appealing – I can rent a single flat here for the same price as I would pay for shared accommodation in São Paulo. I have also fallen in love with my dishwasher – an unsual appliance in Brazil – I think it is magic.
I must admit that one thing I really struggle with is the bureaucracy; making sure you do everything that is required when it comes to immigration, taxes and documentation is not an easy task. Most of the paperwork is in Polish and it can be difficult.
Outside of work
Not having my friends and family around me is hard at times; I can still communicate with them, but it is no longer spontaneous. I’m not generally a craving person who misses things, but I do miss family gatherings and, if I’m honest, our barbecues. There is a community of about 25 Brazilians here in Gdańsk and we meet and go to bars and on trips. As expats we have a lot in common and we all get on well.
In my spare time I often go out to the Old Town or Sopot. I have also tried some new things like snowboarding, which was great fun. Eating out here is not bad at all. Polish cuisine may not be the most varied, but I really like the dishes they have. My uncle lives in Sweden and I was expecting it to be similar to the Swedish food he had described to me, but I have been pleasantly surprised. There is a good choice of bars and restaurants here; it would be nice to have a Brazilian restaurant, but I suppose you can’t have everything! I think it’s worth mentioning that beef, a common meal in Brazil, is generally expensive in restaurants for some reason. However, for me, Poland is generally cheaper; if we look at the Big Mac index then in Brazil a Big Mac meal will cost around 28 zloty whereas here it’s only about 18 zloty.
Looking back to what my friends said about the weather here, it doesn’t bother me too much. I went to Zakopane (a Polish resort in the Tatra Mountains) and it was -20°C, so it was pretty cold, but on the whole it is bearable. The weather can be varied here, but that’s a similar story back home. In São Paulo I was used to frequent changes, maybe not snow, but I knew there could always be a surprise around the corner.
My favourite story from my time here so far involves a trip back to Brazil. The first leg of the trip was a flight from Gdańsk to Frankfurt. I was in the fifth row and there was one guy a couple of rows in front of me who was receiving a lot of attention. I thought maybe he was some writer or something and I thought it would be a bit lame to go and see who it was and get my picture taken with him. When I finally got back to Brazil I received a message from another Brazilian living in Gdańsk saying ‘Hey, you are famous – you have had your picture taken with the former President of Poland!’ He had seen a picture on social media of Lech Walesa on the bus from the plane to the terminal and there I was, completely oblivious, standing behind him. How amazing is that?
If anyone were to ask me if I am glad that I made the change and came here, I would have to say yes! The whole experience of being here has been extremely interesting. There are so many opportunities to grow here, and for that reason, I would certainly recommend it to others.
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And like me, Spartez also has other 100 interesting stories of how they joined. We are a great team that is still growing. We are looking specially for Java Developers, UX and PMs that are interested in working with top-notch products from Atlassian.