Is Anybody Out There?

5 Jan 2017 Karina S. Henkel

I sincerely try not to complain about the fact that Americans get so much less vacation and sick days than Germans. Especially in this blog, I want to look at the bright side of whatever my new life abroad offers me. But not having my six weeks of paid vacation is sometimes a pain and that requires a little work for me to overcome. I purposely have to look away from that fact and toward all the wonderful things I have in my life right now. That helps. Not focusing on what I don’t have, but concentrating on the things I have. But it is  work sometimes, nevertheless.

But even Americans have these quiet weeks that I learned to appreciate in Germany so much. There is a time in August and the days around Christmas when work life is so much slower. I  hardly get any emails because many people are on vacation. The week after Christmas is especially slow. Many employees try taking some vacation days then because their company has a “use it or lose it policy.” That means if they don’t take their paid days off in the year they earned their vacation days, they lose them. They can’t roll their vacation days over to the next year.

Usually I do the same. But unlike my colleagues I tend to use most of my vacation days very quickly. I use them to visit family in Germany and always take additional unpaid time off because the two weeks I get are not sufficient for me. But I have always managed to take some additional days off between Christmas and New Year’s Eve, too. It’s different this year. I stayed at work and loved and hated it. It was hard to keep myself going without the usual stress and pressure. I suddenly didn’t know what to do, although I had an arm-long “to-do-list.”

But this is over now. The almost deserted office is filled with people again and no matter where I call, the phone gets answered. These quiet days are so rare and I will miss them. But let me look at the bright side again: I definitely like the hustle, too.