Some leave with a higher linguistic and cultural background while others do not know the language nor have academic qualifications.
But is it possible to succeed in establishing oneself definitively in Germany without language and without support?
My move to Germany was very atypical: no language skills, no support and very little money in my pocket. But I did it.
I was often asked what my process was to move to Germany permanently and to find accommodation and a job even without my knowledge of German.
Here then is my experience here: I am happy to be able to share it with you, hoping that it will give you excellent food for thought and the right inspiration to find the courage to turn the page.
Are you ready? What are we waiting for then, let’s start this journey together immediately!
Wanderlust, a wonderful “disease”
For years I traveled around Europe, with the journey itself as the sole purpose.
Very often I felt the call of Wanderlust, more than a desire, a real need to leave, to travel, to go and find out what there was “a little further”.
I traveled around Europe for years, almost always alone, with good music on the iPod and a backpack on my shoulders.
I almost never had a real destination: my purpose, often, was only to travel.
Why am I telling you this?
I believe this is a very important premise for those who decide to leave their country, especially if they do not have a solid organization behind them.
Do it and not make it has a very weak border.
If the idea is to move to Germany for an adventure just for the pleasure of doing it, you will still have nothing to lose.
If yours is a real need, for example, to look for a job or to improve the quality of your life, then proceed with a good organization.
In this regard, I advise you to read this book in which I explain to you exactly how it is possible to organize a transfer in Germany in detail
Moving to Germany without knowing German and without support: how I organized myself
The first accommodation
In 2011 I decided to take a vacation in Germany.
I have always traveled a lot and that should have been nothing more than a holiday like many others.
However, something incredible and unexpected happened during my stay: I imagined myself waiting for a gray, cold, sad Germany. Instead, I found a green, welcoming, clean and functional place.
I fell in love with the landscapes, the courtesy of the inhabitants, the order and the cleanliness of the streets. I said to myself: “Well, why not try to settle here, maybe for a few months?”
Obviously, not everyone starts with this motivation.
But at the base, probably, there is the same situation: no knowledge of German, no one who hosts us, no work contract already signed and very often, little money in your pocket.
So how do you do it?
At the end of the holiday, I returned home, filled my backpack with a few things and left.
And yes, this is me down here
Unconscious choice? Maybe, but I knew I could do it.
I had a rather limited budget so I searched for someone who could host me on the Couchsurfingplatform. I was contacted by a guy, Christopher, who had a spare room in his apartment and stayed at his house for a week.
As I explained in the article on how to sleep for free in Germany, Couchsurfing is a community that allows you to host or be hosted by someone not in exchange for money but in exchange for cultural exchange.
To repay my hospitality, I cooked typical Italian dishes: lasagna, cannelloni, homemade pizza.
If you want to play it safe and make your hosts happy, offer to prepare typical dishes from your region. Italian cuisine is very much appreciated and it is not a common thing to eat the real one, prepared at home.
Christopher was really enthusiastic especially about my lasagna: he told me that they were the best ones he had ever eaten in his life. You cannot imagine the pleasure that these words made me feel: in the end, I am not even a great cook and I was filled with pride.
Not speaking German, Cristopher helped me a lot in finding accommodation, calling for me the contacts of the various real estate ads, which we searched together on the internet.
I was looking for a WG, which is an apartment shared with other people, which has a much lower cost than a single house and is often not asked to submit a work contract.
I made the visits to the various rooms by myself, sometimes speaking in English, sometimes only with gestures and doodles. I must say that – thinking about it now – it was also quite funny!
Don’t think that not knowing the language is always an obstacle.
I assure you that sometimes it was not easy ( ok, I admit it: sometimes it was really very complicated ) but I always managed to make myself understood and to understand myself!
After about ten days and a dozen rooms visited, I managed to get my first rental contract for months.
The apartment I found was very small, on the banks of the Moselle. I shared the apartment with a German computer science student who was not at home very often.
We always spoke in English but he encouraged me a lot to speak German, telling me the name of the various objects that were in the house, asking me questions in German and translating into English when I couldn’t understand.
She was the first real person I started confronting with the German language and the first few days I was very demoralized.
I didn’t give up, though, and started studying German non-stop. I have listed the books and courses I used in this article.
Slowly, after much study and trying to talk as much as possible with my roommate, the first positive results of my learning started timidly to become visible.
The job search
Now that I had found accommodation, a second very important problem arose: I had to find a way to support myself! But how to find work without German and without qualifications?
Here the spirit of the initiative comes into play.
We were saying: the little money I had brought with me was becoming scarce, the rent was only 4 months and I knew that soon I would have to find another house.
However, the problem arose that without a job I had only one possibility: to return to Italy.
At the time I didn’t know how to look for work in Germany and I had to rely on my instinct and my spirit of initiative.
I started going out more often, I tried to meet new people, weave social relationships, make friends, make new contacts. I knocked on the doors of shops and restaurants, I sent dozens of emails to apply for dozens of different jobs.
In just twenty days the first job has arrived!
I started working in a small clothing store in the city center. Of course, I could not talk to the customers but it was not difficult to understand what I had to do: fix the window, put the clothes in place, clean up after closing.
Working only in the morning, the pay was not very high, around € 450 a month, but enough to pay me for the room and never stay without eating.
The owner of the store, a lady of about sixty extremely kind and helpful, was totally enthusiastic about my way of working, the enthusiasm and creativity I showed I had, the spirit of initiative and the fact that I always proposed to do things too if the non-knowledge of the language played against me.
Perhaps it was thanks to this that he never let me know that I didn’t know the language, not even once. And with painstaking patience, he explained things to me very slowly, even 3, 4, 5 times, without ever losing patience.
I really have to thank you for never letting me feel less and for always encouraging me to keep trying.
From the beginning of my work at the store, I saved the last penny, I studied the language with constancy and dedication, I went out in my free time to meet new people!
And little by little, day after day, I discovered that this was the right choice for me, that Germany was the place where I wanted to live.
By now several years have already passed and since that day, I have never left!
Obviously, it was not a smooth and smooth path.
Sometimes I have had to overcome hard times, for example when the nostalgia for one’s land and loved ones crops up.
The linguistic deficiencies have put me (too) times in the wheels: before even understanding how I had to do something, I had to understand WHAT I had to do.
Going to the offices, to the bank, to the library alone was not a walk at all. It’s also easy to feel stupid when people talk to you and you can’t understand a word.
When you see someone laughing, you don’t know if they’re laughing at you.
If something happens, you don’t know how to explain what happened. If you are sick and need to go to the doctor, you can’t tell them exactly what you feel.
But it is precisely then that we must grit our teeth and move forward, head held high, proud of what we are building!
The secret to succeeding, in the end, lies only in finding a good balance between a spirit of initiative, adaptability, and hope, perhaps even in a bit of luck.
Obviously, mine is only one of the thousands of possibilities to be able to settle permanently in Germany.
But I hope that my experience can help you make the right choice in case you are considering the idea of leaving or not, perhaps discouraged from not knowing the language or not having a lot of money with you.
But do you know what the real problem is instead?
The real problem is that we are all able to dream, but only a few try to really turn their dreams into projects and their projects into results.
Too often I realized that the problem of many people is that they do not even make an attempt to change their lives.
They simply stand still, paralyzed by fear of change and fear of fear.
This is why I wanted to give you my experience: to give you the strength to fight, to still believe in it, not to give in to the first difficulties.
Life is your ship: decide if you want to drive it or just let yourself be carried away by the waves.