22-year-old Badr R. is from Casablanca and now lives in a small village in Baden-Württemberg where he recently started his training as a hotel manager. In this interview he talks about his motivation, the difficulties but also about his personal success story - starting an apprenticeship in the hotel and catering industry.
Team: How did you decide to start an apprenticeship in Germany?
Badr R.: It was a bit of a coincidence. I started studying in Morocco but that wasn't my cup of tea, I missed being in contact with people and I wanted to use my language skills. A friend got me thinking about doing an apprenticeship in Germany. So, I checked the requirements for that - a good command of the German language. Therefore, I started learning German. It took me a total of 2 years at the language centre - normally it takes a year. Due to the pandemic and me working it took me longer. I also learned German with YouTube, for example. There are so many teachers on YouTube. When you want to come to Germany, learning German is the first hurdle. Everything depends on it.
Team: Why Germany exactly? What was your motivation to come here specifically?
Badr R.: There are many opportunities in Germany to start your career after finishing your education. Germany is well organised – everything is very well planned out. You know exactly what you will learn during which year of the apprenticeship and what opportunities you have after finishing the apprenticeship. For example, you can work in different cities in Germany. You are free to decide where you want to go or work.
Additionally, here you have a lot of rights as an employee. There are no worries about being exploited or whether you get paid or the like. The employer has to follow many rules and laws to employ an apprentice. You have a good feeling as an employee - you don't have to worry and you can just get started.
Besides, Germany is in the middle of Europe, many countries are close by. France, Italy, Switzerland - everything is right next door. That was a good decision for me.
And Germany is just Germany :)
Team: We assume that you were very informed about the German education system - where did you get all the information from?
Badr R.: There are many Facebook groups that I have used for exchange. You can ask a question and you always get an answer. There are also many German language centres in Morocco that help you. It's easy when you have a community that has the same interests so you can share your experiences.
There are also so many websites with information and examples - everything is explained. Like the Make it in Germany website or the Make it in Germany videos on YouTube. They are very useful. For example, at my first job interview the employer had no idea about skilled immigration or the pre-approval which makes it easier to come to Germany. I sent the employer a video of Make-It, that way he understood the process.
Team: What was the biggest challenge for you and how were you able to overcome it?
Badr R.: First, of course the language. The other challenge was the application process. I had a lot of e-mails that started with "unfortunately", which was not easy. My profile was not very good and it didn't work out well. The first step was to improve my profile - gain experience, improve my language skills. I learned German and also worked in customer service to add to my profile. There are so many challenges - but it is important to keep at it.
Team: You used to live in a large city and here you are staying in a very small town. Did you feel welcomed here?
Badr R.: The first week I was a bit shocked. There are a lot of older people here and families. There is not much interaction with others and it is cold – nobody is outside. You can concentrate on your work. There are not many opportunities to spend money and you can save a little :)
In Casablanca you can always go out but here everything is closed at 8pm. However, that's not so important to me. I like the peace and quiet. And the weather is very cold - that's a bit difficult. As soon as the sun comes out, you're very happy. At home there is heating – so no problem.
The atmosphere at the employer is good. Many employees are from different countries, like Croatia, Bosnia, Morocco, Brazil. It's a nice mix of cultures. Everyone is helpful and shares their knowledge. In the first month I worked in three different departments and got to know all the employees of the hotel. It's important to be disciplined, that’s the only way to learn. Every little detail is important to make the system "gastronomy" work.
Team: Were you actively looking for the International Services (ZAV)? How did you find us?
Anyway, I wrote an e-mail and we made an appointment. My advisor explained so many things I didn't know before. She also gave me a reference letter - which I then used for my application. That helped a lot with employers. The reference letter was definitely a plus - it was quite important and helpful.
It was good to know that if I had any questions I could always contact the ZAV and someone would help me.
Team: How do you like the apprenticeship so far?
Badr R.: So far, I like it very much. I didn't think I would learn so much in one month. It was a lot. I was really shocked.
In June, I will start with school. It's a boarding school. There is an app where everything is organised, it provides a good overview. I think it's good to first learn a lot practically and then learn even more at school.
Team: Do you have any tips for others who are interested in coming to Germany?
Badr R.: There really is only one tip: Learn German! It's so important to communicate.
You can't say, I'm going to learn it in Germany. You can't succeed if you don't speak a word.