The first impression while looking for a job abroad, is never the best one. It doesn’t matter which is the country you’ve just moved in (or you want to): there will be always lots of challenges on your path, and they cannot just be ignored. Sometimes you will love them, sometimes you will hate them with all your soul and energies, sometimes you will be desperate, sometimes you will look proudly to yourself. There is not a universal secret about happiness, the only thing to do, is having a huge amount of patience.
My working experience abroad is not so big, but in the last four years, between the UK and Germany, I’ve learnt a lot of useful things, and I’m going to share them with you.
What are the main differences I’ve noticed between these two countries?
There are many similarities between the two systems. First of all, you need to be registered to the municipality (or Bürgeramt, in German) otherwise it’s impossible to get a job legally. The first steps are not easy in both cases: London or Berlin, are not so different in this sense. Anyway, there are two things you cannot avoid when you start a new job: opening a bank account and having a contract for a room or an apartment. Well, actually, to get both of them, having a job is essential. You will surely ask (like most of us): how can I get a flat without a job? How can I open a bank account without a salary? How can I get a job if I don’t have a place to live in? Don’t panic! There is always a solution hidden somewhere. Take the first job offer you receive, at least you will have some incomes, even if not so much. Ask to your employer a document that says you will work soon and for this reason you need a bank account – this will really help, trust me. Then, if you have some contacts, even if not direct, just text them, all of them, and ask for any tip or suggestion (but also for a couch or a temporary bed, if necessary).
London and Berlin are the day and the night (as we say in Italy). Really, they are at two opposite sides of the planet Earth. A bit too chaotic the first one, too relaxed the other one. For me London is the elegant one, Berlin the comfortable – nobody will judge you for your strange hair or your shoes. I have always associated London with a concept of “appearance”, image, well looking. While in Berlin I’m free to not use any make-up to go to work and going shopping with my pyjamas. And I’m happy!
3) Job seeking
I must say that the two cities have a lot to offer. In a couple of days I’ve always found something to do: sales assistant in Oxford street during the Christmas time, operations manager in a start up in the heart of Prenzlauer Berg, but also runner in a pub or waitress in a restaurant. Never give up (remember: patience). The only thing is that in Berlin, after the first period working in English (or Italian, in my case), sooner or later, “man muss Deutsch lernen” – to learn German is necessary!
The advantage in London is the language, for sure (for me, at least, it was easier). In Berlin, well, I cried several times for that reason. I just felt inappropriate, even at the supermarket. Once the first obstacle has been overcome, life is going to be better.
5) Spare time
Life is not just “working”, and you will see a big difference between London and Berlin, especially if you have a “normal salary”. Berlin is changing really fast, but it’s still cheaper than the other European capital cities.
It’s quite clear that Berlin is my favourite one (I would never have been here otherwise), but London too is a good place for an experience abroad. It won’t be easy in any case, working far from home is really challenging: Paris, Hong Kong, Toronto, it doesn’t matter. Every country is unique, with its rules and quality of life. In case of emergencies, just print tons of copies of your CV, go knocking door to door until someone will consider you, then, don’t be never afraid to ask for help, tips, suggestions: someone will tell you to make a research on Google (it really happened, I promised) but on the other hand, there are many people happy to be helpful with the other. This is a fortune, having a support in a new city, and the person in front of you, knows it very well.