Today marks my one year anniversary of immigrating to Germany, though yesterday is technically the anniversary of me emigrating from the US because we flew overnight. Sometimes I forget exactly how much has changed for me in just one year, but then I start to list them out and realize what a crazy year it’s been.
When we first arrived, we were living at the Verlobter’s mother’s house. The Verlobter had found an apartment and finalized all the paperwork on it before I arrived, but the previous owners had given themselves until September to move – and they took all of it and tried to ask for more! Apparently the real estate agent was frustrated with them because they were being so picky about their new place. Thankfully the Verlobter’s mom and her husband were very accommodating, though I think their help of getting us moved in that September wasn’t completely altruistic.
While we were waiting on the apartment, we got my visa sorted out and I started applying for jobs. As I mentioned in my previous post about my current struggles, I was (and still am) only allowed to work as a freelance English teacher. So even though the Verlobter cheekily pointed out the “We’re Hiring!” signs at McDonald’s and a nearby pizza place, I couldn’t apply there. The pizza place actually recently added an addendum to their sign – “Valid Work Permit Required” – so I feel justified in my approval to not apply as a delivery driver. Along with my complete inability to drive a stick shift, even though I have a German driver’s licence (read here).
The job search didn’t go too well. I applied at a variety of schools and even had interviews with some, but no bites. Some places wanted my German to be better, other places didn’t mind, but I think that my lack of experience teaching English as a foreign language – even though I studied English education – was a bit of a set back. We decided to focus on working on German, because that I could fix. I couldn’t get experience teaching English to non-native speakers if no one would hire me!
The problem was that I wanted to get a job lined and then take German lesson, because lessons cost money. We called around to various offices to figure out if I qualified for any type of aid. During that search, we found out that if I applied for general social support, I could get deported, so that was fun! In the end, I qualified for a discount of about 50% and took a short German test to determine my placement. Luckily for me, this was one instance that my timing was great! I tested halfway into the integration course, which was going to hit that point in a few weeks. They happened to have a spot, and bam, I was in!
Unfortunately, around Christmas, the foreign office was sending us letters asking for proof of my employment. It turned out that the visa I was on didn’t just allow me to work, it required that I do. Thankfully the fact that I was enrolled in a German class gave me some leverage and the office was able to find a different visa that I qualified for, as long as the Verlobter officially sponsored me. So we got to go fill out more paperwork, and I got to pay for a second visa, but this one should be good until we’re married! Then we get to do everything all over again.
I still sporadically applied for jobs. I started mentioning that I was in an integration course and mentioning the end date as some sort of proof of my competence with German. I eventually landed something in the next city over from us! And then I got a call from another school that wanted met to take a class also in that city. Things have steadily increased from that point, which is fantastic.
I passed my integration course with flying colors and just recently received my official certificate, which I will need when I eventually apply for residency. I also scored high enough to use that test to fulfill one of the citizenship requirements, so I wouldn’t have to take the “Living in Germany” test again.
I’m quite excited to have survived my first year here. I can’t wait to see what the next year will bring, though I’m sure with the wedding it will also be a crazy one!