Home

 

Getting Experience

- # of # Filtered -

From Cold Feet To Confidence In Germany

Q&A with Donna: Interned in Germany
Share this
Print this
Donna
Interned in Germany
University of Waterloo
Her thoughts on Pre-Departure Preparation
Take as many language courses as possible before you go anywhere! Even if your job is in English, co-workers prefer speaking their mother tongue.
Her thoughts on Personal Growth
I grew so much as a person through my experience going abroad. You learn so much about yourself and what you are capable of doing.
Her thoughts on Language Learning
My German was good enough that by the time I got back from Germany, I was able to skip one German level, and I’m hoping that by the time I graduate, I’ll be fluent.

When and where did you intern abroad?

From January to April of 2012, I worked as an engineering co-op student in the airbus division of Eurocopter Deutschland in Germany.

How did you conduct your search? What made you select your program/company?

I had taken one intro to German course at my university the previous year. When I received an email from my university saying that there were opportunities to work abroad in Germany and Austria as a co-op student, I jumped at the chance to put my new language skills to the test. I saw it as a great alternative to studying abroad, which had more prerequisites and would have required me to reschedule some courses.

What was the biggest surprise about your intern experience abroad?

I’d thought that because the company was international and it used English as the standard language for all internal documents, employees would be speaking English on a regular basis. Was I ever surprised! Many workers knew English but no one spoke it unless they had to. I wish I’d practiced my German more than I did before I left, since it was hard finding work that needed to be done in English or could be done with my limited German skills.

What was the biggest challenge in adapting to your international work environment?

Because I wasn’t fluent in the language, I had to get used to not being able to understand those speaking around me. This bothers you more than you might think. For months I’d be in a room of people without being able to say anything or understand what was being said. This made me feel lonely at times, but also really motivated me to continue my studies of the language!

Did you do any extra traveling?

Almost every single weekend I planned a trip to go somewhere. As a co-op student in Europe you don’t get paid much, so I went into a bit of personal debt for these endeavors, but I think it was worth it. I ended up going to Barcelona, Paris, Marseilles, Salzburg and Dublin, as well as just about every bit of Germany from the north in Hamburg to the very south in Munich. Getting around Europe was so easy because they have the best rail system I’ve ever seen by far. Buying tickets is also easy, since you can either do it online or at a machine in the train station, both of which have English command options. It’s also important to listen carefully to the stop names on the trains. I had the misfortune of getting off at the wrong stop once because the main name was the same, but afterwards I learned to always make sure that they announced “Hauptbahnhof” (German for “main station”) before I got off!

Did you participate in any social activities?

The company I worked for employed students from all around Europe, and every week students arranged meetings at the local pub. It was a great time meeting new people of a similar age who you wouldn’t normally see in the workplace. By going to these gatherings I made many friends whom I still stay in contact with. I met one student who seemed just like the German counterpart to me – we got along like two peas in a pod! I even met a student who will be going to my home university in the fall! I’m really looking forward to showing him some of my Canadian culture.

What did you miss most about home?

I definitely missed my family and friends. When you’re having a bad day, you can’t just pick up the phone and get your best friend to come over. I had to get used to orchestrating Skype calls in advance, and I missed the meaningful conversations that I couldn’t have in German. It got easier when I found friends in Germany. It’s always important, no matter where you are, to have a network of friends who have your back.

What is your number one tip for anyone hoping to follow in your footsteps by working abroad?

Never assume that you know everything about a culture until you get there and experience it for yourself. And take as many language courses as possible before you go anywhere! Even if your job is in English, co-workers prefer speaking their mother tongue, and they always appreciate the effort you put into speaking it with them. Don’t be afraid to mispronounce words. If you’re too scared to learn from your mistakes, you won’t learn as much as you could have.

Going to any new city can be a terrifying experience. Moving to a new country with a different language was like nothing else I’d experienced before. Getting off that plane was extremely nerve wracking and in the beginning I relied heavily on a German student to help me with the language and talk to my landlord. But even though I needed help, I felt that I grew so much as a person through my experience going abroad. It’s one of those things where you can say, “Hey, I moved to Europe on my own for four months, I think I can do *blank* too”. You learn so much about yourself and what you are capable of doing.

Do you have any final thoughts on your experience?

You’re abroad! GO TRAVEL while it’s still cheap to do so! Find some great friends and plan as many weekend trips as you can to places you want to go to most and plan them early! I loved Germany so much when I was there that I plan on moving there after I graduate. I changed my school schedule for the next two years to include four more language courses. My German was good enough that by the time I got back from Germany, I was able to skip one German level, and I’m hoping that by the time I graduate, I’ll be fluent.

Advice from MyWorldAbroad
Jean-Marc Hachey, Publisher

Donna seems to have a particular interest in Germany and the German language. We’d recommend that she continue to build her German fluency and pursue professional opportunities in areas where she can use and further develop her language skills. As an engineering student, Donna is developing a professional skill set that will be highly sought-after. She should consider researching German engineering firms with operations abroad (Germany is a world leader in exporting engineering services and high-end manufactured goods) where she can continue to use her German language skills, as well as her English and cross-cultural skills. We might also suggest that she challenge herself by finding a volunteer position with an NGO in a developing nation to broaden her skill set and potential appeal to German engineering firms.

Donna's Next Steps
Advice from MyWorldAbroad
by the founder of MyWorldAbroad
Jean-Marc Hachey
Want to Have the Same Experience?
In a Rush? Read These Articles First
These carefully chosen articles will lead you to our most important go abroad strategies!
Discover the Career Value of Going Abroad
Get the facts! See surveys and stats linking your experiences abroad to future career success.
Sample Application Documents: See How Others Did It!
Get inspired by actual documents that real students used to apply for internships, volunteer positions and other go abroad experiences.
The World Online
Want to stay in touch with the world? Check out these top (and sometime quirky) links!
Quick Guides! Our Most Popular Go Abroad Topics
View, print or share our easy-to-use guides available in English, French and Spanish.
Do You Have Enough International Experience?
Have you maximized your international experience? Are you ready for the international job search? Find out!
What's Your International IQ?
How much do you really know about living and working abroad? Take this quiz to find out!
Are You Prepared for the International Job Search?
How much do you know about international jobs in your field? Get ready for a targeted job search!
Quizzes: Your Master Scorecard
Check your scores for all quiz categories: international skills, experience & the job search.
Career-Boosting Strategies for International Students Studying in North America
What does it take for an international student to succeed in North America? We’ve got tips to help you thrive!
Earn $30 Gift Card & Submit Your Story From Abroad
Been abroad? Want to share your story? Submit your Q&A today to see your experience online!
Self-Evaluations: Think Analytically About Going Abroad
Keep track of your evolving international skill set before, during and after your international experience. Be ready to apply for jobs in the global economy.
Frequently Asked Questions
Find answers to all your questions about MyWorldAbroad by diving into our Frequently Asked Questions section.
Your International Resume & LinkedIn
Write your international resume first, and then create that all-important LinkedIn profile.
Top Tips on Going Abroad & Your Career
Scan our top tips in 40 go abroad subject areas: international skills, getting experience, finding work, and the professions.
International Skills: Be More Than Just a Tourist!
International people have a unique skill set. Learn the terminology and get professional about describing your time abroad.
100+ Career-boosting Strategies While Abroad
Discover enterprising, innovative ideas for how to demonstrate your international skills to future employers.
9759
- # of # Filtered -
  • 82
82
14483
Finding Home, By Teaching Abroad
1
9743
Hooked On Volunteering!
2
9791
Making Contacts Count In The UK
3
9768
Going Solo In Spain!
4
10163
English Teaching In Eastern Europe
5
10153
China, South Africa And Beyond!
6
9760
Getting In Sync In Nairobi
7
14088
An Eye-Opening Experience Teaching in South Korea
8
9758
Learning The Local Ways Of Addis Ababa
9
9751
A Canadian Globe-Trotter Visits The US
10
9769
Getting Sporty In Switzerland!
11
9790
Design And Dining In Korea
12
10851
Tips From Tasmania
13
9807
Fast Friendship In Korea
14
11904
Enthusiasm, Education and Experience in Greece
15
10188
Now Or Never In Colombia
16
9792
Rolling With The Punches In Seoul
17
9745
An Unforgettable Adventure In Nanjing
18
9774
Gaga For Ghana!
19
9784
Skill-Building In Bonn
20
9762
American Freshman In London
21
9789
Loving Life In Lyon
22
9770
Contributing To Change In Ghana
23
9746
A Cross-Cultural Co-Op In West Africa
24
9741
Adapting To Work In Peru
25
9773
Independent In India
26
12058
Architectural Adventures in Australia
27
11996
Daring to Go Solo in Ireland
28
9757
Teaching And Learning In Tanzania
29
9781
A Hospital Helper In Costa Rica
30
9783
Off The Beaten Path In Africa
31
11850
The Warmest Welcome in Guatemala
32
11845
Hospitality and Hosting in the DCR
33
9738
Living For The Moment In Valencia
34
9755
People, Places And Passionate Volunteering In Peru
35
11645
A Love Affair with Shanghai
36
9771
Learning To Love London
37
9766
Short-Term Trips For Long-Term Gain
38
9737
Passionate About Panama
39
9778
Study And Adventure In New Zealand
40
10145
Real Stories And Real People In Mexico
41
9787
A Spring Semester In London
42
10204
Across Europe In A Caravan!
43
10192
Out And About In Paris
44
9740
Sports, Study And Fun In France
45
10157
Changing Course In China
46
11468
Learning While Teaching in Beijing
47
9812
Caring And Career Skills In Belize
48
9780
A Year In Marvelous Mexico!
49
11557
Un stage au Cambodge (Français)
50
11467
Stepping Outside the Box in Sweden!
51
10923
Insight And Education In Korea
52
10230
Getting Caffeinated In Bolivia
53
9753
A Season In Sweden
54
9779
One Summer, Two Internships!
55
9759
From Cold Feet To Confidence In Germany
56
9777
Into The Wild In Alaska
57
9752
Giving In Guatemala
58
9754
Building Memories In India
59
9747
Fun And Friends In The Netherlands
60
9750
Host Hospitality In Morocco
61
9744
Food, Fun And Festivals In Germany
62
9756
Springtime In Spain
63
10258
Encountering Cultures Across Europe
64
9742
Take-Charge Travel: Germany And Beyond!
65
10218
Adaptation And Appreciation In Japan
66
9748
Adventure In The Alps
67
9785
Motivated In Madagascar
68
9786
Kids And Culture In Korea
69
9788
Business And Pleasure In Australia
70
9776
Soaking Up Japanese Culture
71
9799
Getting Settled In Seoul
72
9803
Ten Years Teaching In Seoul
73
9775
A Year Of Feeling French
74
10143
A Warm Welcome In Mexico
75
9772
Learning To Go With The Flow In France
76
9767
Beyond The Call Of Duty In Africa
77
9765
Simpatico In Florence
78
9764
Do It Yourself! A Proactive Intern In Rome
79
9763
A Professional Visit To Vietnam
80
9761
Communicating Creatively In Spain
81
9782
Making The Most Of Milano
82
9759
All Job Boards
424
All NGOs
1504
Au Pair Resources
35
Awards and Grants Resources
35
Business and Finance Job Boards
64
Business Directories
20
Canadian Federal, Provincial and Territorial Government Profiles
64
Canadian Government Resources
25
Children and Families Abroad
18
Country Guides
57
Cross-cultural Skills
78
Engineering Job Boards
55
Engineering Resources
63
Expatriate Networking Sites
22
Foreign Students Working in the US
9
Freelancing Abroad
20
General Job Search
18
Global Education and Social Action
30
Health and Medicine Job Boards
52
Health Career Resources
44
International Associations With Clubs on Campus
41
International Development Career Resources
45
International Internship Job Boards and Advice
52
International Internship Organizations
310
International Internships and Student Programs With Canadian Governments
36
International Internships With the US Government
40
International Job Hunting Resources
13
International Law Careers Resources
105
International Law Job Boards
24
International Studies in the US and Canada
13
International Trade Resources
26
International Volunteer Organizations
488
Internships With the UN and Other IGOs
149
Language Careers
30
Learn a Language
99
Licensed Teacher Abroad Job Boards
28
Licensed Teacher Abroad Resources
18
Loans for Studying Abroad
19
Low-cost Travel
58
NGO Directories
31
NGO Job Boards
41
Re-entry
12
Regional Job Boards
121
Relocating Abroad
18
Resources for International Students Studying in the US or Canada
50
Stories From Abroad
82
Study Abroad Resources
191
Teach English Abroad Job Boards
97
Teach English Abroad Resources
57
Tools for Travelers
71
Top International Blogs
51
Travel Health and Safety
42
UN and Other IGOs
234
UN and Other IGOs Job Boards
18
UN and Other IGOs Resources
18
US Government Profiles
79
US Government Resources
32
Visas and Passports
25
Volunteer Job Boards and Advice
50
Women Living and Working Overseas
15
Working Vacation Resources
56