Oct 13, 2013 at 5:21 pm #1308698
I've made it clear at work that I need to live somewhere with easier access to interesting hiking/backpacking/outdoor opportunities so I can treat my WDD, and it seems that they are starting to listen.
I'm a mechanical engineer with an oilfield services company, designing downhole equipment, currently in Houston. Unfortunately, we don't have many product centers in the US near mountain ranges. A coworker and I joke that we need a "Colorado Product Center", but that isn't in the cards. We do have lots of centers around the world, however. Some possibilities are France, just outside of Paris, Japan outside of Tokyo, a couple of places in the UK, Norway…
Japan is the most obvious fit in terms of my skill set and the project I'm currently working on – anyone have any experience with hiking there or just living there? I think Japan would be interesting because I'd probably be in a constant state of amused bewilderment, though I've been warned that being accepted into the culture is very unlikely.
France I've been to a few times, and I'd be close to a rail system that could take me to any of a number of great places in a few hours. Besides the Pyrenees and Alps there are endless interesting old towns and cities across Europe. Would be surrounded by French people (hope my bosses don't see this).u
UK – I don't do so well in dreary weather, and it is further from the good stuff. I've gotten lucky with the weather when I've been there, but I'm told that was exceptional.
Norway – probably awesome for half of the year, but I fear I'd go into a serious depression for the other half. And it is very expensive there.
I'm interested if anyone here has any insight on these locations.
-StephenOct 13, 2013 at 5:28 pm #2033812
Jerry AdamsBPL Member
@retiredjerryLocale: Oregon and Washington
I've had friends that worked in Russia – that would be an interesting experience – they're short of trained oil people – I bet there are some great backpacking places – maybe make a bunch of money for a few years.
Or Arab countries – definite culture shock – they have American "enclaves" that aren't so extreme – same thing, make a bunch of money for a few years.
Maybe you can eliminate most all living expenses so almost all income is savedOct 13, 2013 at 5:49 pm #2033823
David ThomasBPL Member
@davidinkenaiLocale: North Woods. Far North.
There is various oil-field exploration and development work going in Cook Inlet, Alaska (I live on its shores) and on-going work on the North Slope. Spectacular scenery, tasty critters, no state income tax, free money each year just for taking up space, and world-class hiking, backpacking, sea kayaking, canoeing, dog mushing, snow camping, etc.
But, like Norway, you better be okay with short winter days (or non-existent ones on the North Slope).
While the Paris region doesn't have a lot of mountains, nothing in Europe is very far away. I find that if I drive like a Californian (or Texan), there is easy access to places that Europeans wouldn't consider going to. And, there's great food and wine on the way there and back.
Excessive numbers of French people can be annoying – they tend to cut into lines and smoke in your face. But they also tend to be small and unarmed hence easily tossed aside. And Canadians have shown that they can be trained, so perhaps there is hope.
One play for Norway is the same thing we do in Alaska – do lots of local trips in the summer and fall, and the occasional winter trip at home. And save money and vacation days to head south for sun and moderate temps in mid-winter and during "break up". I find that what others consider the "shoulder season" is quite lovely when I left 6-hour-long days and -20F temps behind.Oct 13, 2013 at 6:05 pm #2033829
I turned down an offer at one of our facilities in Tyumen a few years back – I was really worried I might not make it through a winter. Chronic fatigue + endless darkness = depression. But the pay coefficient was 1.6 and I could have picked up a beautiful wife while I was there. I've been to Tyumen and Novosibirsk in the summer and the weather was great, but all of my time was consumed just trying to get from one place to another on time and alive. That whole place is just broken. But the women…Oct 13, 2013 at 6:17 pm #2033830
Yes, I'm scared of the short days, but I understand that it is otherwise beautiful there. It is mostly operations there and I'm on the product development side of things (currently wireline pressure and sampling tools).
Why we can't have product development centers in nice places like Cali or Colorado is beyond me. It would be a huge recruitment and retention advantage. We at least used to have a very nice facility in Austin but that was shut down several years ago. We do have a center in Princeton which I hear has skinny people and interesting environs, but they don't design anything that moves so I don't think the job would be that interesting for me.Oct 13, 2013 at 6:49 pm #2033835
Rick MBPL Member
delOct 14, 2013 at 2:07 am #2033894
Peter SBPL Member
Norwegians are more friendly than the others. The nature is spectacular. My vote.
Central Europea is superb if you want diversity in trips regarding both culture and nature. Learn French if in France. They suck at English.
Japan is the most exotically different culture from what you are used to. Learn Japanese or forget it. Good challenge!
Hey, stereotyping is fun!
But, seriously, this sounds very exciting, be sure to keep us updated when abroad. Both your thoughts about nature and culture.
All the best luck, PeterOct 14, 2013 at 3:24 am #2033899
marc DBPL Member
The North Sea oil business based around Aberdeen, Scotland is booming now and I believe there is a healthy product/manufacturing/support industry also.
You would have very easy access to the Scottish Highlands. Ok, the weather can be rough at times, but it changes so quickly and varies so much locally that it is surprising how much good weather you can find. Plenty of Americans here too.
There are cheap flights to the south of France (2 hours away) or even the Sierra Nevada range in Spain (about 3 hours)if you want more sun. And then there is Iceland, that is something else.Oct 14, 2013 at 4:09 am #2033903
I've hiked all around the world, and I can still say that the mountains in Japan are some of my favorite mountains in the world. There are mountains everywhere here. As Rick says, they can sometimes be crowded, but they are world-class. It's a pity that climbers in other countries don't know much about them, or that there is not much information about them in English.
If you are on Facebook, ask to join the group "Hiking In Japan" and I'll let you in. You can look around at the walks people have done, and decide for yourself what you think of the mountains here. Some amazing trips this summer, with some truly fun and helpful members living throughout the country.
Here is a taste of some of what you would be in for (photos from my friends Grace, Alastair, and Kaoru. The fourth is mine):Oct 14, 2013 at 9:24 pm #2034205
Nick GatelBPL Member
@ngatelLocale: Southern California
@ Miguel – you make a very convincing case for Japan. Great pictures.
@ David – your perspective on the French is on of the funniest things I have read in quite a while!Oct 16, 2013 at 2:40 pm #2034749
Valerie EBPL Member
@wildtownerLocale: Grand Canyon State
I vote for the office in France, but then, I'm one of those Canadians that David was talking about!!!!
Actually, France is a bit of a nightmare in terms of the bureaucracy — long lines, Catch-22s, and ridiculously overcomplicated procedures are the norm there for anything that involves government at any level.
Balance that out with the food (YUM), the wine (AHHHHH), easy train access to all the great mountains (OOOOOH), and lots of crazy "types sportifs" (French athletic folks who invented nearly all the craziest extreme sports) to hike, bike, and climb with.
Heck, all your company's foreign offices sound good! Maybe you could spend some time at each?Oct 16, 2013 at 3:01 pm #2034757
Dena KelleyBPL Member
@eagleriverdeeLocale: Eagle River, Alaska
If you do end up somewhere with short daylight hours in winter, such as we have in Alaska, my recommendation is: Get out anyway.
I know that sounds simplistic but I used to suffer terribly from winter doldrums because all my activities were summer activities. Once I added in some winter activities and got out every weekend, my attitude about winter changed. Summer is still my favorite, but I love winter as well. And the top of a mountain and a glorious sunny day is just as wonderful in winter as it is in summer – and darn near as warm, believe it or not. And, no bugs.Oct 16, 2013 at 7:22 pm #2034821
Those are great pictures of Japan! Where are some of the good areas there for backpacking and hiking? It doesn't look like you can get more than 10 miles away from a road in Japan, but of course I'm not expecting it to be the Sierra Nevada there. You can search "Fuchinobe" to find the location of our facility there. It does look like there are some elevation changes and trails not far away at all, which beats the 10-hour drive separating Houston from anywhere very interesting.
Oh my, I just checked the photos on google maps nearby (so many photos – let the stereotyping continue), and it seems like there are several nice trails nearby. Maybe not the most remote or rugged, but compared to Houston it would be like having the Alps in your backyard.
With the way HR works in our company, it is hard to tell what location I might be offered, but Japan seems like the biggest change, and boy do I feel ready for a change.Oct 16, 2013 at 8:07 pm #2034831
David ThomasBPL Member
@davidinkenaiLocale: North Woods. Far North.
>"Actually, France is a bit of a nightmare in terms of the bureaucracy — long lines, Catch-22s, and ridiculously overcomplicated procedures are the norm there for anything that involves government at any level."
My BIL, who was a tenure-track professor/researcher at the time encountered all these looped levels of bureaucracy – you needed a bank account and job to rent an apartment, you needed an residential address to get a work permit, you needed a work permit and an address to get a bank account, etc.
>"If you do end up somewhere with short daylight hours in winter, such as we have in Alaska, my recommendation is: Get out anyway."
I found that helpful in Seattle and critical in Kenai – to have a flexible enough schedule most days to get outside in bright light in the mid day. Ideally, that's exercising outside, but even driving around running errands in outdoor light is better than going to work in the dark and driving home in the dark without ever seeing outdoor light for days on end.Oct 16, 2013 at 10:11 pm #2034860
Rick MBPL Member
delOct 17, 2013 at 1:37 am #2034883Oct 17, 2013 at 1:37 am #2034884Oct 17, 2013 at 1:37 am #2034885Oct 17, 2013 at 1:37 am #2034886
you needed a bank account and job to rent an apartment, you needed an residential address to get a work permit, you needed a work permit and an address to get a bank account, etc.
These are common requirements anywhere in the world where you are not a citizen. All of these are requirements in the U.S. as well. In fact U.S. requirements are among the most stringent in the world. And don't get me started on American bureaucracy… at least in most countries you don't have government officials threatening to throw you in prison for even raising your eyebrows!Oct 17, 2013 at 1:40 am #2034887
Sorry about the multiple posts… Not sure what is wrong with the input procedure.Oct 17, 2013 at 1:40 am #2034888Oct 17, 2013 at 1:41 am #2034889Oct 17, 2013 at 1:58 am #2034890
Robert MeurantBPL Member
.,Oct 21, 2013 at 3:35 pm #2036116
I lived in Japan for 4 years from 2004-2009 in the Tokyo area and may be biased but Japan has some of the most amazing mountains I have ever been in in my life. Year round they are amazing places to hike, bike, snowboard, ski, fish, etc… My wife and I fell in love with Japan in every way. The food, the culture, the festivals, the public transit, the natural beauty of its landscapes. There isn't much not to like about Japan (Other than the lack of proper insulation in houses which makes winters a bit chilly and people smoke heavily). I would move to Japan in a heart beat if I had the opportunity again. You only need ride a train into the country side to get away from the insanity of most big Japanese cities.Oct 21, 2013 at 3:57 pm #2036123
You are all helping to get my heart set on Japan, but it isn't a sure thing. I'll need to see if I can steer the decision in that direction.
I've been talking with a co-worker here who spent 6+ years there and loved it. Apparently the housing allowance is nice as well. Living in Tokyo would mean a 1:20 to 1:30 commute each way, though, which seems crazy even if it is on a train. He says that most of the single ex-pats still live in Tokyo anyway. Funny, he said that hiking/backpacking was old-fashioned there and mostly for the 50+ crowd.
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