What is it like working and studying in Germany? (Part 3) – Last words

My name is Denise Krämer and I’m working for the Student Services of the University of Brighton for four weeks. In a series of three posts I wanted to show you what it is like working and studying in Germany compared to England. This is the last post to this topic. I really hope you enjoyed reading this. Finally there are some things, which I feel are important to mention. Here is more about student life and working besides your studies:

As a normal student, you have to earn money, as long as you don’t have parents to ‘pay you’.

Many of my friends who graduated with me went to a normal University, just like the University of Brighton. In Germany we don’t pay as much as you do in England for our studies. In addition German students still get child benefit during their studies from the state, about 140€ per month, that’s definitely not enough to pay the rent for a flat and for food. There are some other government benefits you can apply for – German bureaucracy, such a very boring topic to talk about.

Students in Germany don’t have the certificates I talked about above. Jobs where you don’t need them are few, so what are ‘typical student jobs’?

The huge wave of refugees in Germany made me aware of one thing: If you don’t speak German in Germany, you’re lost. Not literally lost, but many co-workers in German offices like the National Employment Agency refuse to speak English even though they’re able to. Don’t be upset about it, it is just them sticking to rules caring about themselves, because they would be bothered if they tell you something wrong and they end up at court. If you’re trapped in German bureaucracy, having loads and loads of forms to fill in, there are many people able to help you.

Due to the fact that every child in Germany has to learn English at some point at school, most of Germans are able to help you, even if you’re not able to speak more than “Guten Tag”, “Sauerkraut” and “Tschüss”. Ask fellow students or student services for help! Or you can just ask someone in your surroundings to help you. Germans are too polite to say no. They usually try their best to help anyone, even if they don’t know how to do it themselves.

Most students, that includes international students, work in small jobs. That means they work 10-25 hours a week, fitted with their lectures and tests. Those jobs are for example: waiter / waitress, barkeeper or cleaner. Like here in England you can even work at University for some Student Services or the library, but those jobs are few. Since 2015 in Germany we have a minimum wage of 8, 50€ per hour, so you don’t have to worry about earning too little. Therefore I think especially for international students there are many opportunities to work in Germany, if your background fits with the purpose. Some companies or offices do have vacancies to offer students. Ask for help at the student services of your German University – they usually can give you way better advice than I could.

Independence is the keyword, especially for me. As a 3-year-intern I’ll constantly get to know new people in my office. I’m expected to introduce myself what seems to be not very common here in England. If I don’t walk up to the people in the team I’m with for a certain period, I seem to be impolite. If I don’t ask for work, I seem to be lazy and not interested.

I work in a public service where everybody has a pretty secure job and needs to behave very badly to lose it. But those who refuse to work, who don’t introduce themselves and ask what has to be done, are left out. For reason, I think. Co-workers wouldn’t ask them if they have lunch together; or to work more. Everybody stands for him- / herself. In the free market economy those wouldn’t survive a day. It’s very rare that this happens, because I think everybody wants to help the team getting the work done. Working hand in hand for a certain purpose is a great way of getting to know each other and making friends with your colleagues.

Nevertheless independency is even more important if you come to Germany as an international student. The step travelling to a foreign country proves a slightly bit of independency; living there and participating in a job does even more!

I’m telling you this because work is something really important if you want to meet people, maybe in a certain context. If employers don’t hire you because your German is ‘too bad’, try to find some voluntary work. That will help you in any way you can even think about. You will improve your German, meet people, get tips about what to do, etc.!

My tip for you if you want to live, study and particularly work in Germany or any other foreign country: Show who you are, where you come from and how you manage certain things.

Most people are curious to get to know more about you and your home country. If you tell them about yourself and your way of working they can sort you out. They will help you with accustoming yourself to the new rules step by step. Germans make great friends, once someone told me. So go, make friends and you’ll always be welcome!

Thank you for paying your attention to my posts.

If you have any further questions about something mentioned in my articles, feel free to contact me via Facebook. I welcome any comments or thoughts!

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/denise.kramer.397

Denise Kramer • 14/07/2017

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