Travel and work experiences from abroad
The idea of going on one of these programs came at the end of the year 2020. I was drinking coffee with my girlfriend, and we were wondering (read brainstorming), what can we do as students to earn some money, and at the same time, have a good time. And out of the blue, an opportunity showed up. I found an agency that has a super cool program that gives students an opportunity to work in Germany. And that’s how our journey started.
The program is called Working holiday Germany. It is relatively new since the more popular program was known as Work and Travel, but that one takes place in the USA. The plan was to spend up to 3 months in a city in Germany and work a student job. Agency said that they would help us with all the paperwork, finding a job, and accommodation. The first step was going to the meeting to find out all the details, and then to collect all the paperwork. Some of those papers we had to collect more than 3 times! The next step was not that exciting, and that was waiting for our work permits and job offers.
Around that time, the problems started to appear. The agency started to procrastinate, telling some lies about the whole program, not sending us to work permits and job offers, splitting groups of students, and sending them separately in some other cities, which was now part of the deal. After a lot of stress, disagreements and conflicts, I managed to get work permits and job offers for me and my girlfriend. Of more than 120 students, only cca 30 got job offers and an opportunity to go to Germany.
As the D day came, we went to the airport, met our colleagues, and flight to Germany, the final destination was a small city named Dorsten (later we find out that we will be actually in a small village near the city of Dorsten). After some disagreements about accommodation, we accepted the offer, and spend the first night in Germany. The accommodation itself was not that bad, except it was very expensive (which we found out later in conversations with colleagues from work). The month was July, and we were already late for the job, because of problems with the agency. So in total, we spent 2 months and 10 days in Germany, instead of the planned 3 months.
The first day at work was very good, at the very beginning we learned one big thing about Germans, and that is DISCIPLINE. We worked in a huge warehouse (Supply Chain Company), the tasks we're working with a wide selection of products and goods (Birkenstock, Converse, Levi’s and Triumph), receiving orders, commissioning, packaging, and labeling, as well as other jobs as needed.
Since the accommodation was 10 kilometers away from the warehouse where we worked, shortly we figured out that it is not possible to go to work by bus, because of few reasons: we worked in 3 shifts, we have to change 2 or 3 busses to get to work, and even then, we are late, or we can’t get home at night. So the next logical thing to do was buy bicycles (when you are in Germany, act like German). We bought all of the bicycles in the close area since there were 12 of us students. The astonishing fact is that a lot of Germans use bicycles, so we fit into the system very quickly. Even the older people use bicycles to get some groceries from the store, and that is a very common thing in Germany unlike in my home country.
Our accommodation was in one small village near the city of Dorsten, and it was quite well connected by the buses. Even though we expected the city, because that was part of the deal, this location itself was almost perfect. It was a separate place, very quiet and peaceful, surrounded by the woods, and in the middle of the place, there was a huge lake.
If someone asked me to tell only one, the biggest skill that I learned during my stay in Germany, that was definitely ADROITNESS. Although, it was not my first time to spent time in Germany, it was definitely the longest one. I am also very proud of fact that I improved my German language (English language too), even though I took every opportunity to talk in the German language.
In general, Germany is a very developed country, with a lot of opportunities. At every step, you can learn something new. Everything is the same but also on the other hand, different. There have been a lot of anecdotes and since I’m a huge car fan, I took every possibility to explore their cars (they have very good taste in them). One Sunday, while we were walking and exploring nearby cities, my girlfriend asked me how their cars sound so strange, different. They were not producing much noise like the ones in my country. At that moment, you realize how they are environmentally conscious. There were not many plastic bags in the shops; it is very common to use paper bags or to carry your groceries in your hands. Also, at the work, I met some amazing people from all over the world: Russia, Poland, Serbia, Morocco, the Republic of Ghana, Turkey, Macedonia, Somalia, etc. Almost all of them were very friendly, and we had a great time together.
All in all, after all problems, it was an amazing experience for me, I learned a lot of new stuff, gained some skills, earned some money, explored a lot of German cities, including Bochum, Dortmund, Dorsten, Essen, etc. I would recommend to all students to experience something like this. As an addition to your CV, foreign work is very much an option and looks excellent to potential employers. It also offers an excellent opportunity to expand your experience with foreign languages, something that is even more important in these days of multi-national commerce. One more thing, if someone is serious about doing something like this, I highly recommend exploring all options, doing some research to avoid agencies like mine, reading all positive and negative reviews, and the most important thing, getting in touch with students who have already worked there. I would like to attach some of the photos from Working Holiday Germany experience so that you can get a glance at what I have experienced there and see how amazing experience it was for me.
By Adnan Karzic