Almost all the time, I get emails or private messages asking me similar questions, mostly from my Youtube channel – Nyonya Cooking. Due to the amount of emails I receive, I am unable to reply each of them individually. Therefore, I figured that this video should answer the questions many would have – What is Grace doing in Germany and making cooking videos? Is she working or studying in Germany? How did she get there?
I did not wakeup one day and decided, “Oh, Germany is the place to go!“. It all started with me learning German and as I took it seriously (joining a language class), I started having this desire to be in Germany. Perhaps it was due to the frustrations and the nay sayers, every negative remark or comment made me more certain about this dream of mine.
Exactly that desire, opened the door to this journey of mine. This desire was so huge and unstoppable! Many told me that I will not be able to make it and it will only remain a dream. It was difficult to share a dream with someone to only be put down later on. Which is why I rarely talked about it because I knew, I did not need the negativity in life to pursue my dream. So when someone like my German teacher told me that it is impossible to look for a job in Germany, I refuse to accept her opinion.
The other negativity I experience was when an acquaintance discouraged me to make the move. He was a good friend’s (ex)boyfriend. Actually, he scolded me in a cafe of a well-known shopping mall in Kuala Lumpur for having this desire. He took examples of others who did not make it, of friends who returned to Malaysia after experiencing racism and unfair opportunities abroad. I left furiously! That only made me more determined to prove that I can make it! Of course, there are always examples of people who are unsuccessful but if we are going to benchmark ourselves with this negativity, then we will never progress.
As Seth Godin mentioned in his book Linchpin: Are You Indispensable?, it is the lizard brain in us that is creating this resistance to tell us to back off, be careful, go slow and compromise. In those people who bring negativity, they already allowed the lizard brain in them to take over their mind. They have already given up! So, why do we bother listening to their lizard brain!
Thankfully, I did not! Ever since being in Germany, I never once felt short-changed. I got to rise in my career, I got bonus/promotions and I honestly feel the opportunities given to me are just the same, if not more compared to others who live and studied in Germany their whole life!
I made it very clear that nothing should stop me from learning German. To remind me of my goals, I had lots of mini German flags from German restaurants in Kuala Lumpur which I use to decorate my working desk at home. A friend who learned German with me sent me a huge German flag which I hung up in my room. Sometimes, I have it up to cover my window just to irk my mother but above all, I wanted to remind myself.
My desire was so strong. Without that desire, I would have given up along the way because it was surely not an easy journey. This is what you really need if you decide to move to a new country. You need to have this emptiness that you must fill! Or else, it would be better to accept where you are to do your best in what you do now.
Learn About the Country
Through my German lessons, I got to learn more about Germany. Not only the language, the culture, people, etc. It was also during the classes where I was told, that the German language is a must! My German teachers were very strict with us, requiring us to speak and ask in German the moment we are in the class. Which was really helpful even though we had lots of embarrassing moments.
During lunch last week, a colleague mentioned how he was helping his Singaporean colleague with some applications. He realised that it is almost impossible to do anything by yourself without German – not even getting a phone line, internet or housing. I shared with him an experience I had when I was queuing up at a nearby post office when the officer told a foreigner that she should speak German because she is in Germany (the officer said that in German). The poor lady struggled while I looked on. It is impossible to not feel inferior at that point of time. But you have to start somewhere and learn the language to be integrated. Do not blame others when it is something you can change.
Language is the prerequisite for Germany. What about other countries? What about UK? US? What do they need, what does the country need? What does the industry in that country you want to be in need? Figure that out and work towards being desirable! My former colleague who was also my interviewer had an interview with a potential candidate earlier this year. She was from another European country and wanted to move to Germany because her German husband is living in Germany. When asked if she planned to learn German (though the job does not really require German), she did not show much interest, neither did she have any plans! She seems too passive and showed that she only wanted to be in Germany because of her husband. This attitude was obviously, not interesting for the one recruiting!
The other selling factor I had was the willingness to start as a junior again. It was only fair because my German language was not good enough. That would definitely affect my work. However, my working experiences did certainly help me in many ways. So it was like a good trade for both me and the hiring company.
Increase the Probabilities
“….and I was really, really, realllyyyy lucky that I got a job in Germany!” That is what I often say when sharing my story to how I made in Germany. It was until I read the book The Richest Man in Babylon, I then realised, it was not so much of luck that I got my job in Germany. Almost every day, I sent messages to others in Germany who are also in the industry to ask them about requirements for a job in the industry/job opportunities/questions related to the job. When I get to start a conversation, I then try to get more information and see if they are interested in hiring me.
Rejections and rude replies where very common but they were outnumbered by the positive replies. Although some of these conversations fade off along the way, I just kept asking around. Sometimes I get banned from sending messages due to a large amount of activity. Well, that only stopped me for the day!
The internet is a big playground. You will be able to get all sorts of information online. I am sure there will be some email addresses which are interesting to you too! Keep searching, asking and repeat these steps. Be inquisitive!
There is really no such thing as luck! Increase the chances to be found! As written in The Richest Man in Babylon
“Would you call a fisherman lucky who for years so studied the habits of the fish that with each changing wind he could cast his nets about them? Opportunity is a haughty goddess who wastes no time with those who are unprepared.”
Now, after sharing these tips with you and you are still interested to move, make your first step. Knowing all these would not make a difference if you are not making any changes. A friend of mine once shared his wishes to be working in Germany but at the same time, the desire was not great enough. I did share with him about Germany being a great fan of certificates. If he could show that he had this willingness to learn the language properly from a government certified German language school (Goethe Institute), his command of language would be better and his chances of getting the job would have been higher!
When I started learning German officially at Goethe Institute, I was also looking for my first job right after graduation from collage. During interviews, I said I was willing to learn and also willing to stay back when required but on Mondays and Thursdays, I have to leave at 5.30pm punctually.
I would foresee a lot of resistance to this idea because you have commitments which you need to contribute to in your career. Maybe it is a promotion you are working towards to or a project which you are leading. It is not my advice to make you forget your job and chase your dream. It should be a balance. If you can contribute 8-10 hours or more working diligently during the weekdays and sometimes weekends, why are you not able to invest some time in yourself to build your dreams? Isn’t that only fair?
Would you want to contribute to your career/projects and be happy with where you are? Would you want to let time pass by without even trying? Would you be happy if you have never attempted, at all? There is really no quick and short formula for this but I hope this video and blog post helped to provide some guidelines for you to act upon!