For most new staff, joining the EPO means leaving their home town or country. Relocating to the EPO sites - Munich, The Hague, Berlin and Vienna - is made easier by frequent social events and a wide variety of clubs and communities in which staff can get together in their free time and pursue shared interests.
Each EPO site has its own social committee ("Amicale"), which organises social activities and oversees the various clubs.
Regular social events play an important role in bringing EPO staff - and their families - together. These include Christmas parties, summer festivals, music parties, after-work lounges, children's field trips and an annual "inter-Office weekend" for staff from all four sites. The Amicale also co-ordinates all sorts of courses, ranging from languages through cuisine to fitness and sport.
So how about learning Chinese, discovering the intricacies of gourmet chocolate, or giving fencing a try?
Ever wanted to play in a big band or join a motor bike club? Or get together with other computer buffs and brainstorm the next-generation operating system?
There are between 50 and 70 special-interest clubs in Munich and The Hague, covering all kinds of sports, hobbies and interests. Under the umbrella of the Amicale, these clubs offer a wide variety of social activities and contact to like-minded individuals working at the EPO, and help new arrivals connect quickly to existing communities. And staff are of course always welcome to start their own clubs to share their interests with others.