Updated: Feb 5, 2020
They say change is the only constant. But it doesn't make it less scary. It hit me when I was 18 before I came to Germany.
I wanted to be an actor, a filmmaker, an architect, a designer, an engineer, all at once. You wouldn't believe my mother is a career counsellor if I told you what I did next. I wouldn't judge her; sometimes, families are the hardest. Probably the five-year younger version of me would tell this a different way; this is how I remember it.
I don't remember how much I scored in my twelfth grade. I remember how much I got in tenth because it was pretty great. But it isn't on my CV. No one wants to know that except Sharma aunty.
I didn't make it to Indian Institute of Technology. I made it to another kind of IIT though, National Institute of Fashion Technology. You would think life set ha but something was missing for me. I left it and tried a few engineering colleges in India. I took IT branch because everyone was talking about computers in India. Something was still missing.
While I was busy figuring it out, I had already got my admission letter to a German university.
But I was too afraid to accept it. Firstly, I wasn't from the family of Bill Gates. Secondly, did I really want to be so away?
I chose Electrical Engineering and came to Aachen, Germany. I was thrilled. After ten days, I realized something was still missing. Was it just me complaining? No, I wasn't being honest with myself. I didn't want to study a) Engineering b) in German.
As soon as I confessed this to (first) myself and (then) my parents, things became easier than all these times before. Coming to Germany didn't help me like a subject that would make me miserable. But it gave me the freedom to make my own choices. It wasn't easy, but I found a course in English in another university in Germany suited to my interests. A helping hand would have been nice. A buddy is what I needed.
I might have forgotten my school grades, but I would always remember my first day in Germany. New Delhi to Düsseldorf via Moscow, I landed with bags heavier than me in Germany. For the first time in my life, I was outside India and in the middle of Europe. Who knew coins would be the first thing you'd need here? Did you ever use coins in India except to pay the service lady who would come with your ironed clothes? Well, no coins, no trolley at Düsseldorf airport. Delhi airport was quite generous.
I dragged my two bags, 20 kilos each, up to one metre and went back to pick my another 8-kilo trolley bag. Brought my cabin bag to the same distance as my two other bags and then did it all over again. About as many times until I was out of the airport. My laptop bag clung to me all this time with some other stuff packed inside it. Thank you for telling my mom that the weight of the laptop bag doesn't count. Was it embarrassing? Five years younger version of me would have shouted, yes!
It wasn't something I would have known then, right? My mother had made sure to contact all her friends of friends of friends living in Germany to ask about life here. But no one said, "Bring coins!" A simpler way would have been to just have a buddy with you all along.
I had the pleasure of meeting the team at MyHelpBuddy. Sadly, not at the time when I could have really used their help. My career choices and airport experience were not the only stories I have about my time in Germany. And as much as it is important to learn yourself, it is not bad to ask for some help on the way.
MyHelpBuddy provides a wide range of services from assisting in opening bank accounts in Germany to going and assisting you with other bureaucratic processes. No more awkward luggage experiences with their handyman services and local transport.
Germany's free education, women's safety, and easy travel will top the list of my favourite things about this country. But it wouldn't be such a breeze, as in any foreign land, without getting some help!
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