Who moves to a whole other country, a whole other city on a Saturday and immediately starts work Monday? The subject of today’s Abroad Life, that’s who.
Yomi Eluwande is a developer who recently made the move to Germany to work for the women’s health company – Clue. We caught up with him to learn how his first week in the abroad went.
So we’re going to start with a little Expectation V Reality. What were three things you were expecting and how did Germany tell you ‘Cross the arrivals gate for a surprise’?
Let’s see. First has to be the usual suspect – the cold. So when I was coming, people told me to expect better otutu (cold), so I thought carrying a winter jacket on the plane would be enough. I was wrong.
The worst part is, this is just autumn. Winter is coming.
Free advice, no matter how much you’ve been cranking your AC for abroad-cold training, carry gloves along on the plane if you’re planning on moving to Germany around this time.
So part one of the Moving to Germany Starter Pack: winter clothes, have your gloves on lock. Got it. How else did Germany surprise you?
Okay. I moved to Germany last week Saturday and I went to work Monday. Guess how many black people I saw from the time I left the airport, until I got to work Monday?
Remove the jillion.
Yepp. I don’t know where everyone was hiding, but I didn’t see another black person until I got to work on Monday.
What in the ‘Get Out‘?
Thankfully, I’ve seen more black people since then — on the train, on the bus. But it was really weird those first few days. For the last surprise, I’ll have to say the food. Sometime last week, I was feeling a little nostalgic so I went to buy a shawarma. Two minutes in and I was looking around to ask if they had closed the border in Berlin too. No chicken, just bread and vegetables. It was rough!
Wow, we demand shawarma justice. Okay, random question. Who was the most famous German you knew before moving?
I’ll have to say Chancellor Merkel.
And now? Say,who’s the biggest in music over there?
Ah, this one is tough oh. I just know they play a lot of techno music. I haven’t started learning any names just yet. I still listen to my Burna Boy and Naira Marley over here.
Abayomi rise, don’t let this international exposure waste!
So before we get into your first week, why even are you in Germany?
Work oh. These Euros won’t make themselves. I had two friends that moved abroad very early this year. One to London, the other to Dubai. So I did what any reasonable person would.
I opened a big spreadsheet, put in all the foreign companies I wanted to work for and began sending emails. I sent about 62 emails and got only one response. That’s the company I currently work for as a developer.
I stan a determined japa.
I started working remote for my current company – Clue, in May. But I got the job offer in February. That same February, I applied to the German embassy for a visa application appointment and I didn’t get a response until October. This was just for the appointment oh.
Wow, wow. Really tighting their country to their chest. That’s a whole appointment baby.
I know! After the appointment, it took another three weeks before the visa was issued. As soon as I got it, I booked my ticket. No time. My employers had been really patient so I wasn’t about to spend more time in Nigeria.
Let’s talk about when you first got to Berlin-Tegel. Did you clap when the plane landed? This is a safe space.
Haha, no now. But I won’t lie, in my head I was like finally oh.!
So another quick versus. Murtala Muhammed and Berlin Tegel, who’s winning?
So funny thing, Murtala Muhammed might actually be finer. The thing with Germans is, they have a crazy maintenance culture because that airport is very old. This doesn’t mean it’s not well maintained though. I don’t know sha, I had a stopover at Istanbul, so maybe that’s what I’m using to compare.
Wait oh, it’s MM2 inside this race.
Okay wait, maybe I made a mistyek! Don’t let anybody come after me abeg. My bias might be showing because I didn’t have the very best experience at the airport. So, when you get to immigration at Berlin-Tegel, you’ll notice two lines. One for members of the EU and the other for well, others.
Yepp. But at the time, I didn’t know what the lines were for, and I wasn’t about to enter any line that would take my enemy back to Nigeria, so I tried asking one of the female workers present, if you see the eye she gave me!
Then she started speaking German, and if you’ve ever heard the language, you know the kind of muscle they use to speak. Sha, I ended up asking another person of colour that was on the plane with me and they explained what the lines were for. It was a minor incident but it kind of soured my arrival experience. But only a little.
Where is the love?
So after making it through immigration, what were your next steps being new and unfamiliar with the country?
Remember how I said I had already started working for my company way back in February? Well, my colleagues and I had already gotten pretty cool, so they arranged to pick me from the airport and I didn’t have to worry about finding my way. Now speaking of pick up, let me burst your head small.
*Awaits scalp decimation*
You know how in Nigerian airports you’ll have all these guys shouting ‘taxi’, ‘taxi’ or highest you can get an Uber out? Well these people have taken it to another level. My colleagues drove me out of the airport in a car they rented through an app. Like there was no driver, no key. The app – WeShare, just directed them to an available, empty car at the airport. They unlocked it there and then with the app, pushed to start the car and we drove out in it.
*Stares in third world*
And it’s normal for them. Apparently they have spots you can return these cars or you can just drop them at the side of any road for the next person to find with the app.
Ikeja-Under bridge could never. So you had your transportation sorted, how about accommodation?
See, even though that visa delay was annoying as hell, it gave me enough time to plan like I was preparing for Senior WAEC. So I had already looked through enough Airbnbs before coming to Berlin, and I finally settled on one for 703 Euros a month in Neukolln. It was already sorted before I came.
Curious. How much is average rent in Berlin?
Hmm, well it depends. If you’re sharing a space, you could probably spend between €500- €600. But if you want your own place, get ready to cough out anything between €800 – €1000. Plus, depends on where it is, get an apartment somewhere like Charlottenburg, which is like say the Lekki of Berlin, then it could go way higher.
Must.not.convert.Euros.to.Naira. And hidden charges? No agency fees ready to charge at your wallet?
Oh, oh, they have this thing here! So there’s ‘cold’ and ‘warm’ rent. Say a place costs €800, that’s the cold rent. But once you start adding utilities like water and heating, the price goes up. That’s called ‘warm rent’, pretty much a service charge. With that, your rent can go up from €800 to like €1000 a month.
Accidentally converted that to Naira in my head. So are you sure you don’t want to sharply buy black Friday ticket to Nigeria because this tew much?
Yeaaah, I’m good luv. Enjoy.
Haha. So earlier you said you got to Berlin Saturday and were at work by Monday. How is the commute and how did your first week go?
So, like I said, I came very prepared. By Sunday, I did a quick test run from my apartment to where work is. Two trains and one bus and I’m at work in 21 minutes. Already paid €81 for a monthly transport pass for the bus and the train so I’m fully strapped for this month. The painful part is, since I’ve been entering the trains and buses, no one has checked for my pass. I could have been entering for free. Sigh.
What a betrayed!
Now to my colleagues, just look at how they welcomed me on my first day. Just see. Absolute best guys!
Because I was already familiar with them, it was just finally meeting in person and the workweek went by pretty calmly. Just picked up where I left off in Nigeria, so it was nothing new.
And is communicating with your colleagues easy? With them speaking a whole other language?
Well, my office is pretty diverse. And there are English and German speakers scattered about, so it really hasn’t been the most difficult experience. My German is very limited, so I’m thankful for the diversity.
So accommodation ✓. Transport ✓. Work ✓. Now to the most important thing you should have secured in your first week – the jollof.
Man, by the end of the week I had taken enough falafels and burgers. I needed jollof rice inside me. So I went to the African shops to get ingredients. One is called Afro Shop and the other is Alpha and Omega and they’re both owned by Ghanaians.
And these guys don’t just stock food. They have everything, wigs, clothes, Malta Guinness. Name it.
What has been the worst experience in Germany so far?
Hmm, white people staring in the streets. It is so weird, like they can’t help it. I’ve started doing my own back sha, everybody has eyes.
Then opening a bank account. So to do that, you have to verify your identity, scan your passport, that kind of thing. I wrote Yomi instead of Abayomi when registering and this mistake took days to correct. Like, I was just wondering, if it’s a tech problem, is it not this same tech we’re all doing? I just couldn’t understand the reason for the delay, it’s all sorted now sha. But still.
So I know you’ve been in Germany only one week, but how is a future there looking?
Do you know you have to renounce your original citizenship before you can become a German national? And to renounce your Nigerian citizenship, the president has to sign? Omo!
Wow, wow. My guy you’ve been here one week, you’re already looking to become a citizen?
Ah, be waiting.
Want more Abroad Life? Check in every Friday at 9 A.M. (WAT) for a new episode. Until then, read every story of the series here.