Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Bereit zu lernen! (Ready to learn!)

I signed up for an intensive German language course. Intensive means I'll be getting 3 hours per day from Monday to Thursday for 4 weeks.

The Deutsch Akademie was recommended by friends, plus it's a short tram ride from where I'll be staying. You can choose the time blocks such as 9 AM - 12 PM or evening classes which usually fill up pretty quick. They recommend signing up 4-5 weeks ahead of time to make sure you get a spot.

The damage is 265 Euros which is around $375 CAN. Which I have to pay, you guessed it, in cash! Germans believe that if you're paying with a credit card, it means that you're poor. I just want to load my travel visa with points so I can fly for cheap.

Travel tip

If you are a frequent traveler and spend a lot of money on flights and abroad get a travel credit card. They usually have an annual fee (70$ - 120$) but I got a 1300$ flight for 187$.
I could register online and they sent me a test to evaluate how much I already know about the language... not much is my honest answer.

The test

The Deutsch Akademie sends you a test to evaluate your current German skills in order to put you in a group which matches your level of knowledge. I've been putting off the test as I was contacted for a job interview last week and I'm getting a second interview with Human Resources... I was told it's usually a good sign. More to come very soon, I'm leaving at the end of the week for my first German Weihnachten.[Remove eggnog and replace with strong beer].

Friday, December 13, 2013

Getting the call

Nothing's great about living with 6 hour time difference. Except waking up to an email requesting a phone interview for a job you applied for! I was browsing reddit.com/r/munich when a post caught my eye. Internship for native English speaker sounded like a position I'd be able to fill. With a load of office experience already on my resumé I decided to apply right away and see what happens. I was already excited to pick up my passport with my new work and travel visa approved, this was the cherry on the sundae.

I've applied for a few jobs already. My first one with GoPro, they have a Munich office and I thought I was a likely candidate for the Office Manager position, I still think the name of the position is a front for an administrative task oriented job, in any case a foot in the door is better than a foot in the mouth. I suspect my lack of German language knowledge played against me on that one. Speaking of which, cue Don't Lose Touch and carry on.

Another job in a totally different vein had a very appealing aspect, free German language classes. The position was in a private school for students from 2-6 yo... I know what you're thinking that's a babysitting job, yes 4 people to babysit 15 kids in English in exchange for money and free German courses. That didn't work out, about one thousand people viewed the job posting and I'm certain someone had better "children education skills" than me.

I'm still learning a lot of new tricks for applying for jobs in Deutschland. I need to book a photo session because apparently pics on resumés are a must! The question now is with or without the beard? 

Monday, December 9, 2013


Back in November I applied for a work and travel visa through the Youth Mobility Program. I was told the process would take two weeks. At the end of the third week I started wondering and called the German Consulate in Toronto and the nice lady on the phone told me that my visa was approved! I ran to my colleague's cubicle and we jumped and screamed like little girls...embarrassing? I'm told you only live once, haters gonna hate, oh whateves y'all! I should get my passport next week in time for my trip!

Now I can sit back and relax right? Wrong. I still have to take that test which will determine my level of German language so I can register at the Deutsch Akademie for my German language lessons. I wonder if after a few beers my German will be good enough to ace that test? I might me missing the point...

Now that my work and travel visa is approved, dear employers of Germany, I'm all yours!

Friday, December 6, 2013

The pain of waiting

The German consulate has my passport and I'm patiently waiting for my visa to be approved. In approximately two months I'll be on a flight to Munich and that is when my 1 year sabbatical leave starts. I still have to line up my German language classes. The plan is to get some intensive classes 3-4 days per week to start and see how quickly I can pick up the language. So far, I've been able to make my way slowly through the Duolingo.com exercises and I also loaded my iPhone with some German lessons. Duolingo is a lot of fun but it lacks the conversation aspect.

The second step will be to start applying for jobs and/or volunteer work. I used toytowngermany.com to offer my services to non-profit organizations. Clearly I'm hoping to get a paid job or some type of internship but in terms of networking I have a lot to offer and am willing to work for nothing if it eventually gives me enough experience to enter the German workforce while I get better at speaking and understanding the language.

It's no secret to anyone, I'm a huge beer lover and I have been looking at opportunities to work for, basically, any German beer company that will have me. For now it's all about tweaking the resumé and sending it out to the masses in the hope of catching the interest of a good company that's on the lookout for an ambitious foreigner.

Thursday, December 5, 2013


Two months before I leave for one full year, it's also time to get some paperwork done. In Canada young professionals (18-35) have some work and travel visa options offered to them. You don't need a letter of offer for a job but there are a few things you should know when applying for the Youth Mobility program.

Seems quite easy at first they give you a checklist of what you need. Put in 24$ for recent "passport" photos to be included in your visa application. You need basic things such as a one way flight reservation, a letter of motivation which explains why you want to live in Germany for a year. You will need a proof of first housing from the person you'll be living with or hotel reservations upon your arrival in Germany.

The tricky part is the health insurance. With your visa application you will need to provide proof of health insurance coverage for the length of your stay abroad and in Germany that include what they call "liability insurance" in case you run someone over with your bike or something like that. I've asked around (banks, credit card companies, travel agencies) no one in Canada seemed to know what that was or what it covered exactly so I purchased my insurance straight from the Germans, it included the liability insurance, covered the visa requirements and cost almost the same as the prices I was looking at here in Canada.

Now the fun part, there are two German Consulates in Canada where you can get your visa application approved. Toronto and Vancouver! This is a bitch because what if you're from Timmins, Ontario or Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan? The lady I spoke to told me that they take fingerprints and therefore you need to apply in person. Well I had to book a day off and take a train at 5:30 am to make it to my 11:30 appointment at the German Consulate in Toronto. I got off pretty easy with a 76$ round trip on VIA Rail.

The application process takes two weeks and I should get my passport back in time for my trip in December. Did I mention you have to give them a prepaid self addressed envelope if you don't want to have to go back to Toronto to pick it up between the hours of 1-2pm on a weekday?

Here's a few links to get you started:

Youth Mobility Program
German Consulate in Toronto