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» On Not Working from Political Animal
ON NOT WORKING....Since today is one of those rare days off for all Americans, I hereby present (in response to this) some advice on not working from Andrew Hammel, an American in Düsseldorf. Happy Fourth, everyone! I admit, there's enough... [Read More]

» On Not Working from Political Animal
ON NOT WORKING....Since today is one of those rare days off for all Americans, I hereby present (in response to this) some advice on not working from Andrew Hammel, an American in Düsseldorf. Happy Fourth, everyone! I admit, there's enough... [Read More]

» On Not Working from Political Animal
ON NOT WORKING....Since today is one of those rare days off for all Americans, I hereby present (in response to this) the following meditation on not working from Andrew Hammel, an American in Düsseldorf. Happy Fourth, everyone! I admit, there's... [Read More]

» On Not Working from Political Animal
ON NOT WORKING....Since today is one of those rare days off for all most many Americans, I hereby present (in response to this) the following meditation on not working from Andrew Hammel, an American in Düsseldorf. Happy Fourth, everyone! I... [Read More]

» On Not Working from Political Animal
ON NOT WORKING....Since today is one of those rare days off for all most many Americans, I hereby present (in response to this) the following meditation on not working from Andrew Hammel, an American in Düsseldorf. Happy Fourth, everyone! I... [Read More]

» On Not Working from Political Animal
ON NOT WORKING....Since today is one of those rare days off for all most many Americans, I hereby present (in response to this) the following meditation on not working from Andrew Hammel, an American in Düsseldorf. Happy Fourth, everyone! I... [Read More]

» Düsseldorf and the South from aTypical Joe: A gay New Yorker living in the rural south.
Today, in observance of the Fourth, Kevin Drum points to this from Andrew Hammel, an American in Düsseldorf: Here are some pieces of advice for my fellow Americans who choose to move to Europe: Don't brag to other people about... [Read More]

» Düsseldorf and the South from aTypical Joe: A gay New Yorker living in the rural south.
Today, in observance of the Fourth, Kevin Drum points to this from Andrew Hammel, an American in Düsseldorf: Here are some pieces of advice for my fellow Americans who choose to move to Europe: Don't brag to other people about... [Read More]

» Düsseldorf and the South from aTypical Joe: A gay New Yorker living in the rural south.
Today, in observance of the Fourth, Kevin Drum points to this from Andrew Hammel, an American in Düsseldorf: Here are some pieces of advice for my fellow Americans who choose to move to Europe: • Don't brag to other people... [Read More]

» Discovering German joys from Silent Eloquence
Came across this wonderful piece by Andrew Hammel in German joys via Washington Monthly via Venk@. As someone who used to think working 12 hours a day and then some more on the weekends was pretty normal, I can easily say the one thing that took m... [Read More]

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Norbert

Here is an article about a new study according to which Germans work "every bit as hard as Americans do", with the difference that Americans "do more market-based work, and Germans do more home-based work." The authors point to the fact that Germans/Europeans have a smaller service sector, because they tend to do more things themselves (cooking, gardening, DIY) for which Americans tend to contract someone else. This is, according to the study, the reason why there is a larger service sector in the US. Don't know yet what to make of it...

me

Well, let me start off by saying 8%? Heck, if I could get 6 solid weeks off per year, I'd be willing to give up TWICE that...without question OR hesitation.

I really don't understand this whole european work ethic thing in the sense that, I work for Germans here in America. These people, evidently, must be from the twilight zone or something. It's absolutely horrible. I've never hated anything so much in my life. My work week is MANDATORY 45 - 50 hours, no matter if I even have a task to do or not. That's right, if I've had nothing to do for the past 5 solid weeks, I still have to come in for a minimum of 9 hours every single day. Oh yeah, and I only get 5 DAYS of vacation per year.

That's not the worst of it either. Some of my coworkers work 10-16 hour days, 7 days a week. I have no clue why nobody even raises an eyebrow to this at my office.

I have no life anymore because of these people. I used to play the guitar. USED TO. I even have my Bachelor's degree in guitar performance. I don't even remember simple chords anymore. I used to have friends. USED TO. I have close friends that I've known for years that I haven't had the opportunity to see or even speak to, since I started working at my company two and a half years ago.

So, once again, just to make it clear: If I could get 6 solid weeks off per year, I'd be willing to give up TWICE that...without question OR hesitation.

Anybody in Europe need a dedicated computer programmer?

Juno

Give your self a break..Have a vacation and enjoy your life with it...=)

Andrew Hammel

KS wrote:

"Add into that the fact that everything seems to cost more in Europe, and I wonder how anyone there gets by at all."

First of all, I've noticed that the amount of time spent working is determined by social structures; the whole society is set up around the idea that you'll work a moderate amount, because there's a broad social consensus that working large amounts of time is psychologically and socially harmful. That will never be the case in the U.S., so life in the U.S. is filled with decision-points in favor of more work (you get the keys to the building when you take the job, so you can come in on the weekend, boss gives you a blackberry, you get chastised for not responding to email quickly enough). That ain't happening in Europe.

As for affordability of life, I second Natasha's explanations. I don't have a car here in Europe, and I don't miss having one at all. Luxury or expensive purchases are indeed expensive here, because of the value-added tax, but basic necessities are relatively cheap. Housing and food are subsidized, and the government pays you to have kids.

Plus, Germans are skinflints. Life costs less for them because they make sure it costs as little as possible. Bargain-hunting is a national obsession. Credit cards are practically unknown here, and virtually all Europeans have a horror of going into any significant debt. People routinely put down 40 or 50% of the purchase price in cash when they buy a house or car, just to avoid having too much debt. Germans save so much it hurts their economy; in fact economists study this behavior because it's irrational.

natasha

Sorry about that last, didn't realize I couldn't use HTML here or I would've put the 1st and 3rd paragraphs of my comment in quotes to indicate that they were from previous comments.

natasha

The problem here in America is compounded by the fact that in more and more places, you can't roll over unused time from year to year.

Yes, because some bright bulb decided that unused vacation time gets written into the books as a financial liability. It was all downhill from there.

Add into that the fact that everything seems to cost more in Europe, and I wonder how anyone there gets by at all.

I'm guessing that they manage because health care is generally either free or very cheap, not nearly as many of them own cars (no car payments, insurance, gas or repair bills) and their spending habits tend more towards savings and less towards uncontrolled impulse shopping. Changing those three variables in American life would produce, I think, a much different range of what we considered affordable.

Anjali

Have worked in the US and Europe - can't agree with you more. Had the toughest time adjusting to European work attitudes, but now I love it!

I think it goes beyond the 40 hour mentality - Americans take their work too seriously and carry ownership to the nth level. The reason people end up working weekends etc. is also because even at very junior levels it is drummed into their heads that they are responsible for delivering the results. Whereas in Europe, people treat work more as a job. Something they do to earn money but it's not their entire life. So, if a deadine happens to come in the way of a vacation, so be it. Someone else can take care of it, while in the US, your boss might actually expect you to re-schedule your vacation plans.

Anyways, i am glad i am finally in a place that values work-life balance. Sometimes, my client will actually tell me to go home and not work so hard. Sweetest words I have ever heard! :)

KS

If I had the option for more vacation time, of course I'd take it. If I could without penalty.

I think the reason most people don't take all of their vacations is twofold.

One, they have so much work to do that they can't afford to take time off or they'll be hopelessly behind when they get back.

Two, just because they have the vacation time doesn't mean their boss is going to be happy about them taking it, and they don't want to endanger their job by taking the time that ought to be theirs, so they don't.

And, of course, if you can afford to give up a percentage of your paycheck, then you're one of the lucky ones anyway. Even 8% of someone's paycheck may be too much for them to give up, and it may have nothing to do with the fact that they're greedy. The fact is that six extra weeks of vacation isn't going to pay the bills; few people work because they want to but because they have to. Add into that the fact that everything seems to cost more in Europe, and I wonder how anyone there gets by at all. Are the salaries substantially higher than they are in the U.S. or something?

Steve Snyder

The problem here in America is compounded by the fact that in more and more places, you can't roll over unused time from year to year.

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