Sabbatical

Sabbatical

Today my sabbatical starts. Three months of fully paid leave, a perk every employee at Automattic gets every five years. A few months ago, I was brainstorming with Kim when I last had been on a three-month holiday without any obligations. Given the length of school holidays, I know that it must have been before starting primary school over thirty years ago.

There are many parts of working at Automattic which I thoroughly enjoy, but its focus on the wellbeing of employees is pretty unique, especially knowing that it is a U.S. based company, a country where you have no right to any leave. Any leave you do get, is a privilege. Of the countries whereof the Wikipedia page has data, the U.S. of A. is the only country in the world where total paid leave days is 0. While this is outrageous to any other country in the world, it makes the sabbatical I’m about to start even more special.

What am I going to do?

I’m currently in Belgium visiting family. We’ll be in the country for a big chunk of my sabbatical, travelling around between cities, and in between we’ll explore Europe a bit.

We’ll have a fairly packed schedule, but also one that is flexible. We’ll be open to last-minute changes. I’m excited about this. The COVID-pandemic cut us off from this type of exploration. It also cut us off from spending time with family and friends, and I’m looking forward to the sabbatical being a breath of fresh air in our social lives.

I also look forward to spending more time with Mila again, not just as a family, but also just with the two of us, while Kim takes time to focus on her Ph.D. studies at the KU Leuven.

I also hope to run my first half-marathon during my sabbatical.

What not?

We originally had planned for me to do quite a bit of DIY in the house we bought just over a year ago. I’ll likely still do some of that when we get back, but I’m more and more convinced that we made the right call to focus on spending time together. Our house will still have years of occasional work, but this sabbatical opportunity is so unique that it would be a pity to spend it all on another time of work.


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