Category Archives: interview

Interview: Eric H. (Language School Co-Founder)

Interview: Eric H. (Language School Co-Founder)

 

Why did you start Cox & Co Language School?

I studied management and spent a long time working for a consulting company. After a few years of working for the company I realized that it wasn’t exactly my “passion”. I wanted something that gave me more freedom, creativity, and had a stronger international focus.

How has Cox & Co changed your world views?

My life has been an international experience. I spent time growing up in Switzerland and in addition to German and English, I speak some French.  I also like traveling because it opens my mind to other cultures. While our language school is relatively small, our trainers come from all over the world so every day is an international experience.

I would also say that I have become more curious, open-minded, and interested in people. I think the unfortunate truth is that we tend to put ourselves in a bubble which surrounds us with people who are similar-minded. I try to stay away from this bubble and create as much diversity around me as possible. I view our team as a family and I genuinely care about all our trainers.

When you first meet a trainer, what type of qualities are you specifically looking for?

We look for native speakers with experience working in a specific industry (for example, your background focuses on digital marketing). We also look for teaching certifications such as a TEFL or TESOL. However, the most important thing for us is personality. We want someone who can put some excitement in the classroom. While certifications hold considerable weight here in Germany, things like flexibility, customer service skills, creativity, and reliability are much more important to me.  Teaching English in Germany isn’t so much about this “traditional way of learning” but rather an international experience. We want people who can inspire students to learn not only by teaching, but making each lesson personal, engaging, and fun.

What piece of advice would you give new English trainers looking to teach English in Germany?

If they plan on moving anywhere near Wuppertal, they should contact us! However, I think one of the most important things is to be as prepared as possible because it will (most likely) be a self-employed lifestyle. In Germany, there is a lot of paperwork (and registrations) that are a must for self-employment. We try to help our new trainers with the process (I remember going to the tax office with you several years back).  However, not all trainers have this benefit. Don’t be afraid to ask for help and seek out answers – there are other language schools out there who will help with the processes.

Also, every language school operates differently.  You posted something about finding a “home school”. I think this is a good tip. I would just add that trainers should do a bit of research to make sure that the language school is a good fit for them. Every language school operates differently.

Here is a link to the language school Cox & Co.

Interview: Nick P. (German Grocery Store Clerk)

Interview: Nick P. (German Grocery Store Clerk)

Nick P. German Grocery Store Clerk

 

You went to the States last April (2017). What were some of the differences that you noticed between Germany and the United States of America?

People in the US tend to be friendlier and everything is bigger – even the ants! I also noticed that the sounds were different. It’s a bit hard to explain, but there were a few sounds that were different. At times, this was a bit irritating because the birds made weird noises (to me, anyway).

 

What did you love the most? What did you hate the most?

What I loved the most? Can I say everything? I loved the way how Americans did things – how they drove their cars, their architecture, the size of everything, and how friendly everyone was.

I think I hate the health system in the US. I also don’t like the “tipping thing”. I think the idea of tipping is weird because servers should just earn a fair salary (in my opinion).

 

Now, you work at a grocery store in Germany. What were your impressions of the grocery stores in the US?

They are HUGE!  I mean like, incredibly huge. Everything was bigger – the marketing, the boxes, the parking spaces, the shelves, and the products.  I was also surprised by how clean everything was. In addition, the aisles were not only clean, but very well organized. I also liked that I could get a few pharmaceutical products like aspirin (for example).

Finally, I have to say that I loved how easy-going the cashiers were. They were slow and friendly.

(Personal Note from Chris: This reminded me of a blog post where I wrote about how Germans essentially throw your items.)

 

Do you wish you could change anything about the grocery stores in Germany?

I would love to see more variety in our grocery stories. I also think that the cashiers in Germany could slow down a bit. When I need to work as a cashier in our store, I sometimes get the idea that we stress out the customers due to our speedy check-out policies.

 

If you could give Americans looking to move to Germany one tip before the moved, what would you give them? (Or maybe for Americans looking to take a vacation in Germany…)
Open your mind. There are a lot of things that you can see and learn from Germany. Also, be respectful.

Interview: Syrian Refugee Living in Germany

Interview: Samh H.  (Refugee Living in Germany from Syria)

samh-syrianingermany

Samh H. Syrian Refugee Living in Germany

 

This is part of my “Question and Answer” series, where I interview people who live (or have lived) in Germany. For this interview, I talked to someone from Syria who lives in Germany.

 

When did you first arrive to Germany? How was it that you chose Germany (did you have a choice)?

I arrived in Germany December of 2015.  However, before Germany, I lived in Egypt for 3 years. My legal documents were quickly expiring and I couldn’t renew my permission to stay in Egypt. I had heard that many people were leaving for Europe on the news so I made the decision to move. I wasn’t sure about which country at first, I was actually thinking about Sweden. However, after talking to several people I decided on Germany because I wanted to apply for gay asylum.

 

What is the difference between gay asylum and normal asylum?

I’m not exactly sure what the difference is, because all of the refugees living in Germany have the same rights. This was more a personal thing for me.  I had suffered a lot while living in Syria. I lost everything and my life had completely changed. One of the main reasons why I don’t want to go back is because I am gay.

 

Can you tell me what your experience was like the first day that you arrived in Germany? What were you feeling? Were you alone?

Actually, there are a lot of people in my group. It was probably around a few thousand. We came to Germany through Austria and then stayed for a night in Passau. It was a bit intense. The German police however, were very friendly and when they noticed that I spoke good English, I didn’t have any problems. Also, the German volunteers were very friendly. They gave us food and hot soup because it was cold and snowing.

Then we went by train after the police checked us over in Hannover. In Hannover, our group was about one thousand people. They then separated us into small groups consisting of 30 to 40 people. My group went to Husum (northern Germany). They gave us the option of going to another camp for registration if we didn’t want to stay in Husum. I eventually ended up in a small town near Hamburg (by train it’s only 20 minutes).

 

Can you tell me about your living situation after arriving to the small town? What kind of assistance have you received?

To answer this, I want to start from the beginning. At first, I had to wait for my interview at a local German registration office (Bundesamt für Migration und Flüchtlinge). I stayed in a house with about 30 other guys and I was not allowed to work because I did not have permission to live here yet. After I got my permission, I started an integration course. Then I had to register at the Job Center for social benefits. I was lucky because during this time I found a flat and the Job Center paid my rent. So I basically continued my German integration course while learning how to become integrated.  After some time, I found employment working part-time as a bartender for an event management company.

 

Could you describe some of your experiences during the beginning with the “integration process”? Do you feel like you are part of the community or do you feel like an outsider?

The experiences that refugees encounter (regarding integration) varies greatly. I can tell you that I have made great connections and friends that have helped me a lot! I have also had very nice neighbors. I now live in “Glückstadt” and I see many people on the street who I can say hello to and have small talk with. This is not only limited to my neighbors of course, but also in the local bakeries and coffee shops. I feel very lucky!