As my first travel post I figured it would be best to start with Germany! I moved to Germany in 2010 with a work visa in hopes of obtaining a job and a new life in a different country.
This was something I had wanted to do for years, I did a German minor at Memorial University and so I knew a bit of the language (aber mein Deutsch ist nicht sehr gut) and I wanted to be immersed in a new culture and fend for myself all alone. Fortunately and unfortunately for me that is exactly what I did!
I went through the SWAP (Student Work Abroad Program) and paid a fee to get a work visa. At the time I was working at a retail store to save up money to support myself for a few months while I was in the city to look for work. In January, I arrived in Berlin and stayed at a hostel to start my search!
Finding a job with sub par German wasn’t super easy and finding a roommate that I wanted to live with wasn’t either. I admit, I was a bit picky having had really great roommates before I left. Nevertheless, I was super pumped on the adrenaline of living out my dream in a foreign city and pounding the pavement in search of job opportunities until…..my laptop got stolen less than 2 weeks into my move. It happened one night when I naively slept with my laptop in my bed with me. I know. Usually I would lock it up but I had started to become comfortable with my dorm-mates and saw how they left their phones/cameras out so I let my guard down.
When I woke up in the morning to find that my laptop was gone, I felt really lost and alone as I knew finding a job and a place to stay would be much harder and more expensive without a laptop. I had very limited funds and was really stressful imagining all the different scenarios that could set me back even further or make me return home.
I also felt betrayed. In my two weeks there I made a lot of friends with the people in my hostel and I knew which person stole my laptop. He was a guy in his 20s that told me he was from The Netherlands. Funny enough, I picked up on his accent, telling him he did not sound Dutch at all and he just shrugged it off. One of my close friends that lived near me was Dutch and I was around her family long enough to get a bit familiar with the accent and even pick up a few words/sentences as well as a really cool birthday song!
Anyway, when I woke up and saw that my laptop was gone along with my new friend, it was pretty clear he did it as he wasn’t supposed to be leaving for a few days. I could tell by the reaction of the Spanish girls that were also in my room that they didn’t do it either, it sounds kind of weird but I think most people are good at picking up on genuine emotion rather than faked emotion. Also, the hostel never took copies of guests passports so there was really nothing I could do.
I did eventually get over it after a bit of crying and a lot of frustration. Later on, things didn’t actually turn out too bad for me after all. The people at the hostel felt really bad and were really nice to me while the person in the Berlin SWAP office was not so helpful or sympathetic. He was a nice man but for the amount you pay the company, they don’t really help much when you actually need it. Keep that in mind if you are ever thinking about going through SWAP.
All in all, it was a rocky start to my European trip but there was more to happen which I will write about in my next post!