My name is Jaroslav, I’m self employed migration educator living in Berlin. After my first book – interview with IT-professionals from Russian speaking countries, I got inspired to write a second one. Working title: A Programmer’s Ultimate Guide – how to relocate to Germany.
I would be very grateful, if you share your experience with your buddy-programmers who are wishing to come to Germany but don’t know how to start.
It is very well possible that your case isn’t typical or your point of view significantly differs from the “norm”. Yes, I am aware that your opinion can be very subjective. That’s all right, because this is your experience, your life, your story. Answer as you think. Fill the questionnaire as detailed as appropriate to you. If you don’t know what to answer to particular question, just leave the fields empty. After you are ready, we could agree about the date and time to briefly evaluate your answers – by phone, per skype or in a personal meeting in Berlin (if you wish).
Skype: swelldive Cell: 0159 – 030 72 498.
I would suggest that in your story you tell the real people names (feel free to hide family names). That’s more easy. If I would like to take your story into my next book, I guarantee, that I change all names and you will see the ready script before publishing anywhere.
1.1.1: Where (which city / region) you were born and raised up?
1.1.2: What is your first name or nickname (not family name)?
1.1.3: In which year you were born?
1.1.4: Are you married? How many kids do you have? Is your spouse / children are from your country of origin?
1.2.1: Where did you get your skills? Have you established your skills self-taught on the workstation? Or in some institution?
1.2.2: If institution, what was your educational institution? A university? Give the name of it if you wish.
1.2.3: What was the name of your faculty? What were your implied future occupation? How similar is your today’s occupation with occupation implied while studying?
1.2.4: What were the reasons you have chosen that particular profession? Your own wish? Expectations of the family? Other?
1.2.5: Have you been lazy or diligent student while studying? Give your truly opinion from the distance of today’s point of view.
1.2.6: What was your first serious job after (or maybe during) your studies?
2.1.1: When did you arrive due to work in IT branch in Germany? Year, month?
2.1.2: In which German city was your first job?
2.1.3: Have you been in other areas in Germany before? If yes, where? For how long?
2.2.1: Where do you live now (your current city, city district in Germany)? For how long do you live in this particular city?
2.2.2: How does your housing looks like? Do you rent a house? A flat? A room(s) in shared flat?
2.2.3: Do you live alone or with your family members, parents, friend(s), partner?
2.2.4: How much is the monthly rent? What is the sum of all additional costs (incl. Internet)?
2.2.5: Who is your landlord – a private person, a property management company?
2.2.6: Who are your neighbours (if you know them)?
2.2.7: How do you like your present housing / city area? Would you stay here longer? Would you prefer to move into another housing / city area / other city? If yes, why?
2.3.1: How big is the company where do you work? Is it a corporation, a start-up, a middle class company?
2.3.2: What is your position? Can you briefly describe in simple terms what are your routines and responsibilities?
2.3.3: How many months you are working there?
2.3.4: Is it your first job in Germany? If not, is this the second one, the third one?
2.3.5: Are you employed directly or over a middleman-company (such as employment agency, body shopping agency etc.)?
2.3.6: If you’re employed in the middleman-company: are you satisfied with conditions and the payment? Why are you not directly employed?
2.3.7: How much is your annual bruttosalary?* If you consider this question as too personal, what is approximate annual salary of the professional in the same position with similar skills / level in Germany?
*- Brutto salary means salary before tax withholdings and other deductions.
2.4.1: How long do you live in Germany? What have you thought in the beginning – how long would you stay in Germany?
2.3.2: Don’t you regret your decision to come to Germany? Was it really the right choice for you? Which countries were considered as alternative to relocate?
2.3.3: What kind of permission do you have – a temporary residence permit? Permanent residence permit? Other? (Please name it in German.)
2.3.4: Would you like to get a German citizenship? If yes, why? If not, why?
3.1.1: How did it happen that you decided to go to another country? Was this idea maturing within years? Or maybe any life event(s) caused a “lighting” which finally brought you abroad?
3.1.2: Which books / personalities / circumstances caused this decision?
3.1.3: What was the first foreign country which came into your mind when you decided to try go abroad? Why that one?
3.1.4: How it happened that you finally have chosen in Germany? Why this country?
3.2.1: How much time passed between your decision to relocate and first activities on that way? Days? Months? Years?
3.2.2: What were the “first practical steps” of your relocation activities? 2-3 steps, which you have done first of all?
3.2.3: What came first – did you start collecting documents required by German embassy or searching for prospective employers? (This questions applies to those who need visa to come to Germany)
3.2.4: Could you briefly describe how you filed required documents with a German Embassy? Did you have a copy of the employment contract / offer while applying for German visa?
3.2.5: How long was an interview? What were questions which you haven’t expected? How friendly / unfriendly was your interviewer?
3.2.6: Did you need to write a motivation letter? Where did you find tips / samples how to write a good motivation letter?
3.2.7: Looking back in the whole process of relocation to Germany – what were 2 biggest difficulties?
3.2.8: While relocation process: name 1-2 things, which you considered as negative surprises? And 1-2 things which were good surprises?
3.3.1: What were two biggest difficulties on the way from your country to Germany? (In the period after you decided to go abroad until you arrived in Germany.)
3.3.2: What were two biggest difficulties in the period after arrival in Germany until today?
3.3.3: How could you overcome them? (Have you done it meanwhile or still in process? Or they were solved “by itself”?)
3.3.4: Looking back from the today’s point of view – what would you do in other way? (In other words: what you probably wouldn’t do? Or what things would you do, which you haven’t done?)
3.3.5: What did and does give you power to keep on moving through the “downs” in your life?
3.3.6: Who or what helped you on your way to Germany and after arrival?
3.4.1: What was your first 2-3 steps particularly for job hunting?
3.4.2: How did you find your first 1-3 job offers?
3.4.3: How did you find out if your education certificate / diploma were recognized in Germany?
3.4.4: Where did you find out the tips about writing a letter of application and CV according to German / European standards?
3.4.5: What were the main 2-3 conspicuous moments, different from your usual way of writing a letter of application and CV?
3.4.6: While that particular period time how many letters of application have you sent? If you don’t remember exactly just estimate a ballpark number of those letters.
3.4.7: Who was trying to help you on the way to find a job in Germany? A friend, a recruiter, an organisation?
3.4.8: Have you finally found your current job yourself? Or with the assistance of another person/organisation? Can you briefly describe how it happened?
3.5.1: How was the first interview – by phone, by skype, other? How long did it take? What the main 2-4 topics the interviewer wanted to know?
3.5.2: How many interviews happened until you were invited to the personal interview in Germany?
3.5.3: How long has the whole job-hunting process (from the very first step until the personal interview) taken? How many weeks / months?
3.5.4: Who was present on that interview? A HR-manager, CEO, IT-Director, other?
3.5.5: How friendly / unfriendly were your interviewer? How long has the interview taken? If you haven’t notice the time just give your estimation.
3.5.6: Which questions they asked? What was the main 2-4 questions? Feel free to mention all topics they were asking you about (if you can remember).
3.5.7: How long have you been waiting for the final decision – that you were hired? Hours? Days? Weeks?
3.6.1: Have you already worked as freelancer? In which county? For how long? Remote or not? How did you like it? Do you still work as freelancer? If yes, part-time or full-time? Describe matching experience.
3.6.2: Whether you have freelance experience or not – what is your attitude towards self-employment? If positive, how would you imagine your working activities self-employed person?
3.6.3: If you have ever worked in Germany as self employed – what is your opinion in general? Is self-employed work (part-time / full-time) worth practising in IT-branch? (Feel free to just share your personal opinion regarding self-employed work in Germany.)
3.7.1: How many years months have you been working as self-employed / freelancer? What is your specialization?
3.7.2: Where did you start – in your native country? In Germany? In any other country?
3.7.3: Are you Freiberufler * or do you have other self employed status? How it called in German?
3.7.4: Why have you decided to work as freelancer / self-employed? What was the benefits which convinced you to set up your self-employment?
3.7.5: How difficult was all necessary paperwork? Please give your impression of it while the process and from today’s view.
3.7.6: Who was trying to help you on the way of getting all formalities done? A friend, a lawyer, a tax advisor, a company?
3.7.7: Have you finally set up your self-employment by yourself? What was 2-3 biggest difficulties? How did you solve them?
*- The meaning of freelance in this questionnaire refers to all kinds of German small business models. In Germany there is a sharp delineation between Freiberufler and other self employed activities. Please define – if you are a freelancer (Freiberufler) OR sole proprietor (Gewerbe) or other status?
4.1.1: How did you feel first weeks in Germany?
4.1.2: What did surprise you (or your family members if you came together) very much? Name 1-3 things, both, negative and positive.
4.1.3: After one year* living in Germany, looking at the German lifestyle and they way things are organized in this country, what do you see differently? What are 1-2 most positive surprises?
4.2.1: What are 2-3 biggest cultural differences between people in Germany and in your native country – as you see it?
4.2.2: What are 2 qualities of Germans* which you find mostly sympathetic?
4.2.3: What are 2 qualities of Germans which you don’t like / cannot stand?
4.2.4: What changed in your perception of Germany (people, German order and way of life) after the first year leaving here?
*- Nowadays Germany is not purely German, especially in the metropolises. Look at “people around you”. Some of them you know (friends, colleagues), some of them you just meet in your daily life. When you asked about “Germans” summarize them under umbrella term “people in Germany”.
4.3.1: How do you normally get around? (Car? Bus? Train? Taxi? Bicycle? Walk?)
4.3.2: If you own the car – what is the model and price you paid? Are you satisfied with its price-quality ratio?
4.3.3: What are your total monthly expenses for the transportations around the city? Does your cover (at least partly) these costs?
4.4.1: What are the most popular mobile phone/data providers in Germany? Which one would you recommend?
4.4.2: How much does it cost for a basic broadband (cable/fiber) Internet connection in a home? Name speeds and prices.
4.4.3: How much does it cost for a mobile data plan (3G) for heavy Internet use through a mobile phone? If you are not familiar with, how do you obtain your Internet connection?
4.4.4: Which provider / contract do you use? How good are you satisfied with this particular price-quality ratio?
4.4.5: What are your total monthly expenses for the Internet / land-line / mobile phone? Does your cover (at least partly) these costs?
4.5.1: How did you find your very first accommodation in Germany?
4.5.2: How long did it take until you found the housing where you live now?
4.5.3: Describe how you started your search. Did you start with finding a hotel / hostel, a room(s) in shared flat, an apartment? Anything else?
4.5.4: What were your requirements and your monthly budget in the very beginning?
4.5.5: How did you search for accommodation – online or off-line? Just asking friends and colleagues? By answering ads? By placing ads? In the newspaper advertisement section? Via blackboard in your company? Details are greatly appreciated – what worked out, what didn’t.
4.5.6: How actively have you conducted your search? Estimate the ballpark number of request / answers sent and the days/ weeks gone until you found the suitable housing.
4.5.7: Did anyone help you while searching? A professional realtor? A friend?
4.6.1: Which insurances except of medical insurance do you have, like life insurance, liability insurance, travel insurance etc ? Write them down in English or in German – it’s up to you.
4.6.2: What types insurances would you recommend to an IT-professional, who come to work in Germany from a non-european country? Any particular insurance brands to recommend?
4.6.3: Who did help you? An insurance broker? A friend? How have you found this person?
4.7.1: Did anyone help you while searching? A professional realtor? A friend? Do you have an experience of medical treatment in Germany?
4.7.2: If yes, what are 2-3 things you liked most of all (anything like staff professionalism, unexpected services, any good surprises)?
4.7.3: What are 2-3 things which were bad surprise for you (anything you haven’t liked: in the clinic, impolite personal, complications with insurance company etc.)?
4.7.4: What is the name of your medical insurance company? What is the monthly payment? Is it for you only? (Or maybe your partner / spouse / children included?)
4.7.5: How long are you covered by that particular company? How satisfied / not-satisfied are you with its service?
4.8.1: Do you think you will stay in Germany next years?
4.8.2: Wouldn’t you like to become a German citizenship?
4.8.3: What are 2 most desirable countries you would work and live for some years (or longer)?
5.1.1: Coming back to the question of the personal difficulties on the way to Germany. What are the 2 biggest difficulties / hurdles / problems that still make the life in Germany a bit uncomfortable for you (or for your family / relatives)?
5.1.2: Which software are missing in the area of relocating process and living in the country for foreigners?
5.1.3: If you have problems of any kind what is your personal attitude? How do you deal with them? What is your advice for other people, who wish to come and work in Germany just like you?
5.2.1: Which (online) resources would you recommend about life and career Germany?
5.2.2: Which (online) resources would you recommend about life and career in other country/ countries which are interesting for you?
5.2.3: Which blogs, courses or any other resources would you recommend to your buddy-programmers from different countries, who are specialized in the similar area as yours?
5.2.4: What are 3 books which made a strong impact on your way of thinking and understanding the life?
*- It can be also films. Although books were better. Any kind of books, any topic, fiction or nonfiction.
Any additional question-suggestions are very welcome! Feel free send me your questions-suggestions in comments below or per email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Thanks in advance for sharing your thoughts, ideas, experience with your fellow programmers!