Moving West #1 Preparation

Wait, wow. I realized I really haven´t been writing anything this year! And its already end of May. Sorry for my absence. I´ve been really busy…and honestly a lot has been going on. So I´ve been receiving quite a lot of questions about moving to Germany, like what I did to prepare, my struggles, and so on. So I thought I would want to write each of these parts one by one.

Perhaps the most common thought of what I will write here is how awesome it feels to move from South East Asia to Europe. Wrong. Its about struggles and how much effort can one do in the process. Now I would say I haven´t  successfuly move here yet as I am still looking for a job (but I just got VISA extension for job hunt, yay!!). Nonetheless, here are some things you actually can do in advance before you depart.

1. VISA

No shit this part is complicated. Make sure you have enough spare time and back up plan especially if you don´t live in the capital of your country like me. In some cases you will need to go there at least twice, to submit your application and to pick it up. If you have someone who can pick it up for you, it will work but it needs a letter with your signature and stamp on it so prepare it in advance. I have two cousins who probably could pick it up for me back then, so I wrote two letters for each of them in case anything happens. Also always prepare any extra copies of all paper required and extra passphoto in all sizes possible.

2. Get a haircut

I´m not kidding I had my hair cut at the closest day possible before departure. The reason is simple: the difference in currency. While getting a proper haircut in a nice salon in Indonesia cost around 3 euro even for my long hair, it was the right thing to do because in Germany it costs 10x more. I paid around 24 euro plus a ‘long hair tax’ which cost around 30 euro in the end.

3. Cross check your clothing with the weather

While in Indonesia its summer the whole year, its the other way around in Germany. Its barely sunny and sometimes half of the year is practically winter. First time I arrived was end of September, then it snows from October until April. Bring only basic clothes and underwears (underwears are expensive here) but buy your boots and coats here. My reason was, Indonesia is a tropical country so nobody would need coat or boots (unless for fashion reason) however due to this fact most likely you can´t find proper boots or jacket that could stand Germany´s weather.

4. Check out stores for toiletries

Yes, if you can, do this before departure and not after. Each countries sells different products. The one you´re using now might not be available in the town you´re going to live in. If you think that´s the case, check what kind of products are available around you, and how can you get the closest and most affordable substitute. As for me, I changed my shampoo and conditioner to local supermarket products and my cosmetics are mostly from the body shop while the rest are bought online from Korea. Yes, the latter sounds strange but its cheaper than you thought and the quality is great. For instance the same quality face wash from body shop which is around 100 ml costs 9 euro while the Korean one is 175 ml and cost 6 euro with free shipping.

5. Look where you can get cheap (or even free) stuff

Normally if you moved for studying like me there will be students who moved out and sell their second hand stuffs for cheap. I got my mini oven and rice cooker for 5 euros each. There is no absolute method to find out how. Asking around is always good, because sometimes even selling platforms in one place can be really variative. For instance, we even have umsonstregal here, which is literally a shelf where you can put or take stuffs for free.

6. Learn the local language, even if you aren´t required to

I wrote this before somewhere but I can´t really recall where. Learning the local language really helps your daily life, and just in case you had the opportunity to land a job there. Start before you depart, at least 6 months before and not after you arrive. Trust me it makes a big difference. For someone who is way too used to English like me (well its practically my second mother tongue) German has really different grammar rules and its difficult to get used to it. It took me loads of shameless practice conversations with my German fellas to get used to it because apparently it works better for me than just sitting in the class figuring out those intimidating grammar.

7. Be prepared to fight depression

This is a very common problem. The cause is widely variative. It´s pretty much a mixture of everything, really. As for me, sometimes I do miss my home (and oh goshhhh the food! I am kinda sick of my own cooking cause I cook everyday and I barely buy takeout cause its expensive and most doesn´t taste good to me)…a lot of stuff to plan and consider (like how I would get a job, how to manage my craft shop in between etc) and the worries of sudden shit like your VISA is issued late and you spent times in between without it trying to avoid the police (it happened to someone who lives downstairs, really).

DSC05051

What you can do is put something alive in your room. A flower, an easy pet, something that you could take care of and cheer up your mood. It might not always be the best solution, as there is no generic solve for any problem but for starters it does help. Let something be your companion. Living in a foreign country where you´re not even familiar with the language is pretty terrifying. Having someone (or something, in this case) who accompanies you most of the time is helpful.

I didn´t realize this myself until in my second year here my neighbor gifted me a pot of flower, well…out of the blue. Since then I added life forces to my room. I have a marimo pet, I bought another flower…I feel my room is prettier and I have lots of companies. My mornings became something that I´m less afraid to start, I have something I am looking forward to do even it looks like its small and meaningless like watering my flowers and turning around my fat marimo pet so he can get sun equally all around his fluffy body. Its fascinating to see them grow in your care, but without realizing they take care of you, too 🙂

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