Hello reader. This blog is aimed to share my genuine experience of working and living in Germany. In this blog post I write about the most challenging months that I have lived in Germany. In retrospect those were the days which actually made me the person who I am now. Steve Jobs once said somewhere along these lines, the dots in life only gets connected backwards. For me as well when I look back at those months it all makes sense now but at the time while I was going through those tough times it did not really made any sense.
If you are new to this blog my name is Chandrasen, I’m an Indian immigrant based in Germany, I am also the co-founder of Destination Germany. Enjoy reading my story written in my very own words about my most tough days in Germany which has helped me to become the person who I am now.
During bachelor’s studies which I did in Dayanada Sagar College of Engineering when I was in 6th semester I decided to go to a different country to do my master’s degree. As it costs couple of hundreds of thousands of INR (between Eur 20,000 to Eur 50,000 based on which country we go) to do master’s, I had shared my desires to my dad to check if it’s ok for him as well. I wanted to give him a hint such that he arranges that money in 1 year time. I must confess that I am very lucky to have been born in a family in India who is in the upper middle class and are financially quite well off compared to millions of other Indians. As this is the case my dad was very happy about my decision to go abroad for my higher education and happily agreed to arrange money for my master’s degree.
When the time has come for me to move to Germany the financial situation of my father was not so strong like a year before. But since he had made his promise he managed to arrange the money that is required for me to go to Germany. As I saw him first hand struggling to keep up with his promise I have decided for myself that once I am here in Germany no matter what it takes I will be self sustaining and would never ever ask a single penny from my parents then on. The money that was provided by my dad would be good enough to make a living for one full year and the next year of my living had to be taken care by myself.
After living in Germany for like three months I started to realise that getting any kind of job without knowing German knowledge is pretty tough. The level of toughness increases if you live in relatively small towns like Heidelberg. My game plan was to start earning money as soon as possibly could so that in the second year of my master’s degree I won’t have a huge financial burden on me to take care of my living.
The list of available options to start earning while living in Germany being a student are:
- Working student: you work in any of the companies as a student for max. 20hrs per week. The job will be usually related to the course that you would be studying in your masters
- Internship: usually it will be a full time job where you work 40hrs per week between 3-6 months in companies.The job will be related to the course that you would be studying in your masters and it’s usually done during the break semester. Most of the times master’s degree will also have a compulsory internship that needs to be done during the studies
- Working part-time doing odd jobs: you can work in restaurants, warehouse, food delivery, paper distribution etc. where one would have the possibility to work during non class hours
Among the above three mentioned options I can only start earning by working as a „working student“ or working by taking odd jobs. Because I can only take a semester break once I am done with atlest one year of my master studies. Getting a job as working student in companies is one of the toughest things atlest for me because of two reasons 1. my very limited German skills at the time was a hurdle as my course is non-technical (International Business) course 2. I am a fresher with no prior job experience.
The only option left for me was to take odd jobs such that I start to make a bit of money already which can be used in my second year of Master’s degree. The very first job which I took was paper distribution. The job had to be done for 2 hrs for 2 days a week. With minimum wage of around 8.50Eur per hour at the time I was making Eur 34 per week which is about Eur 136 per month. This was in 2015 and I still remember how it felt to earn money for the very first time. This was the very first job I have ever made in my life. I did this job for about 3 months.
After this job the next job that I got was a cleaner job at a restaurant called Oh Angie! in Heidelberg Germany. At this job I had to work for about 20hrs per week with the payment of 9.5 Eur per hour. At this job I was making around 750 Eur per month. To be really honest cleaning utensils in a restaurant was really not so great (as we all can imagine). But what this thought me in life is to give respect to anyone and everyone irrespective of their background, what their job is on so on. Everyone has their own reason to work, earn and make their living. Work is work and if someone is working hard to feed himself or to feed his or her family then we need to respect that person. Even though it was a tough job my determination to make my own living was higher than my own ego which really made me to go to work and make my living. I worked at this restaurant for like 3 straight months which was also the duration of my contract. Unfortunately the contract did not get extended and I had to start looking for a new part time odd job.
The next job that I found was to make burgers at a restaurant called Mandy’s in Heidelberg, Germany. This time it was a 450 Eur job (which is a mini job) where I was working for like 11-12 hours per week. In Germany there is this concept of mini job which pays you 450 Eur per months and based on the payment per hour you would work X hours in the particular job. In Germany if one earns until Eur 450 one do not have to pay any taxes. Coming to the job I must say it was really a nice experience making burgers and potato fries. It is one of the most dynamic physical work that I have ever worked. If there are lot of orders at a time things can go pretty crazy in the kitchen. I have worked at this restaurant for almost 6 months before I moved to Berlin to do my very first unpaid internship.
In the span of about 6 months I have applied to around 300 internships positions while I was studying and working part-time. After about 300 rejections I finally got an unpaid internship in a small startup in Berlin as a „Social Media Marketing & Business Development Intern“. Although it was an unpaid internship I was thrilled that I got an internship which is something in the the domain in which I am doing my master’s degree. As this was an unpaid internship I also had to somehow take up an odd job to support my living. If I reflect back on these times I must say this was the most difficult times so far in my life which in a way made me the person who I am now. In the morning I was working as an intern at this startup and during the night for 3 days a week I was working in a warehouse as a materials picker and materials packager.
This is how my first year looked like in Germany. To be really honest the amount of life lessons that I learnt living is Germany during this period of time is way more than what I have learnt from my university classes. While I was going through this phase of my life there were days I have asked to myself what am I doing here. I have spoken to myself many times that this is completely nuts and let me quit everything and go back to India once for all. But in-retrospect I am very glad to say that those were the days which really thought me what life really is about and why it is super important to take up some challenges in life, be persistent and explore one life we all get to live. I am very grateful to everything that has happened in my life so far. If I had quit and went back to India it was impossible for me to be the person who I am today who is literarily unshakable and ready to face any problems no matter what.
If you would like to experience some of the life transforming challenges which can help you to step up your game in life or If you ever dreamt of working and living in Germany then this is the right time for you to take next big step.
To just give you a bit of background, Germany lacks a lot of technically skilled people. To be exact in the coming years Germany has a demand for around 700,000 people with technical skills. In order to fill this gap, in March 2020 it has also liberalised lot of rules and passed an act called Skilled Workers Immigration Act (Fachkräfteeinwanderungsgesetz) which makes it easier to get a visa for broad range of people living in non-EU countries.
I truly believe that we all have one life to live and when we get the opportunity we should definitely take it and put in a little bit extra effort (which can be learning a bit of German language, knowing more about German culture etc.) to explore life changing experiences which can be lived by working and living in a foreign country with completely different culture.
If you are someone who also believe in the same then we are here to help you make your dream come true by providing you the opportunity to explore different job openings at many top German employers and supporting you in visa topics and integration topics.
Go to our website to know more about us. Once you know who we are what we do check out our current job openings here. If you find the job that fits your profile then go ahead and apply for that position.