I had an interesting call with one of the organizations responsible for funding jobs for refugees yesterday.
Actually, one of our clients had an interest in helping out several qualified people by filling positions in his innovative projects. Therefore, I took the phone without knowing anything about neother HR processes nor visa regulations for refugees in Germany.
Somehow, I expected an excited voice on the other side of the phone – because we were going to do a big thing. We were going to help people out. We were ready to talk about integration opportunities and language courses.
Instead, I got about 10 minutes of a structured professional phone consultation. There ARE language courses, and most refugees who wanted to integrate ALREADY HAVE a B1/B2 level of the German language and are preparing for the next exam. At the same time, they are registered by the unemployment agency like all unemployed Germans are. The only difference is, there are some kind of “state headhunters”, who help companies to find the right profile within the database. No drama, no “saving the day” – just work. For everybody.
I am known for criticizing Germans for overregulating everything – but nobody creates structures like they do. I am glad to see people who suffered getting their window in the local bureaucracy. I hope that Europe will find it’s way through the integration crisis very soon. I don’t want to see talented people in a ghetto.
I know, I know that many Europeans and especially Americans consider Russian people quite morose. We do believe that you may smile when you want to and not when it is comfortable to others. Nevertheless, I spent a lot of time in Europe and got used to the “professional smiling”. But that one shocked me for real.
That was a Russian guy who moved to Europe about 10 years ago. He had a nice job, a nice face and nice clothes. The problem was..he was smiling. All the time. I saw his brand white teeth through the whole conversation. He was smiling while I was asking a question. He was smiling while answering my question and after he would answer my question.
Did he do an operation? Does he have any problems with the muscles of his mouth? Is something wrong with my makeup?
-Ivan, did you study in the US?
-Yeah, I did!
-Now I get it..
Dear all, the gestures and the facial expressions are sometimes even more important than knowing the language of the person. Try to pay attention to how people look like when they are interacting and to do it the same way – this will help your international career a lot.
There are two reasons why people get disappointed with their own dreams not coming true: those dreams are too large and ambitious or too far away to reach. Some people say, one should reduce his expectations to become happier. I strongly disagree with that opinion. In order to achieve a big dream, one should see it not as a light at the end of the road but as a puzzle spread across the road from many smaller dreams. Each time you do a step, you make a small dream come true, which motivates you to go further and inspires to seek new big dreams. You want to start a new life abroad? There are the dreams about passing the English test, getting your papers done on time, getting an invitation, getting a visa…so many small things to celebrate and be happy about each day!
Let the most important dreams in your life be a road, not a destination!
Since the moment I saw a lady in the German Embassy in Russia getting her working visa so easily, I also wanted to get one. At least, to feel the same respect she was treated with. Of course, she has been invited by one of the largest international companies, which are looking for smart people for specific projects all over the world. Just one year later, I became a Blue Card holder with the Germany as my first destination. But what does this Blue Card actually mean?
- Working where you wish. There are countries with a high unemployment rate and with the low ones. Countries with a high employment rates like Germany are focused on attracting the best experts in technical, medical and innovative fields, which leads to a more open visa regime. In other countries like Italy, the unemployment rates are higher. If you are a foreigner from a non-EU country, the Blue Card if your pass to work in Europe and to change employers and countries in a very flexible way, as long as you meet the BC conditions.
- Taking your family with you. The Blue Card holders are often highly skilled professionals who are be found by large companies and offered a contract in the EU. Even though it is usually a limited contract, one receives an opportunity to move to the new place with the family and to get (often, depending on the country) free integrational and language courses.
- Helping yourself out. Here comes a small hint: the visa legislation related to Blue Cards differs a bit in European countries, but you should read yours even before you get to touch your very own Blue Card. Why? Because, for instance, in Germany, if your contract expired or was cancelled after 1 full year, you are eligible to an unemployment insurance AND a visa for the job search (3 months with the Blue Card + 3 months usually offered extra) for the whole period of your insurance (which is 6 months if you worked at least 1 year).
- Getting the permanent residence permit faster. Yes, this is also possible for Blue Card holders with some knowledge of the local language. With time, you will be able to apply for a permanent residence permit (incl. your closest family – wife and children) and stay in the country as long as you wish. Just keep in mind that there is usually am difference between the citizenship and permanent residence permit in a form that you should stay primarily within the country – whenever you want to move within Europe again, have a look at the current legislation 😉
If you are new in a company, many things can go wrong. Adapting yourself in an international company in another country may be easier than fighting with the language barrier in a small local SME, but still a challenge. If you found yourself away from home in an international giant, here are some basic tips:
- Manage to eat: Eat with everybody what they all eat, where they all eat, when they all eat. Eating is one of the most ancient ways of getting closer to people. Your tasks are not your first priority – you REALLY should eat the way your colleagues do.
- Manage to participate: Meetings are a necessity for your job, but clubs are the necessity to keep your job. If your colleagues do anything in their spare time, be it yoga, evening cocktails or even sailing, do yourself a favour and participate. The social game is the next most important ancient way of becoming a part of a group.
- Manage to talk: Personally, I feel like an idiot when people are discussing football. I have neither love nor interest for football. I will be by no means able to support a conversation on this topic – but surely can ask 1-2 questions to be polite and show my respect to the interests of my colleagues.
- Manage to avoid: Topics related to politics, critics of behaviours and cultures, personal life details, religion, talking about other colleagues. Many people know that those topics are taboo, but I still hear them every week.
- Manage to observe: How people are interacting with each other. How are they reacting, responding, working, greeting others and asking about favours. It might be very different from what you are used to.
- Manage to explain: Feel free to explain, why you do things differently. Feel free to tell that you don’t eat pork or should wear a head scarf all the time. Every normal international company should show acceptance to the basics.
India is a very patriarchal country. On the other hand, when we visited the Amer Fort in Jaipur, one showed us a small window in the main wall, which opened a view directly to the square where the political meetings of the men took place many centuries ago:
(The small window is above the central entrance on the “balcony”)
One was able to clearly hear and see everything from that window – and there was also a kitchen on the left just next to it. As you have already guessed, the window was for the main wife, who was supposed to watch and listen to the meetings. If at some point she would decide that her husband was under too much pressure or was going to take a wrong decision, she could ring a bell, and her husband would take a small breake come to have a council with her. At least, this is what I was told 😉
I have a very special respect to Indian women who went to politics. Even in restaurants of western hotel chains my BF was asked, what I would like to eat – not me. In general, people did not addressed – and it was strange, even though I come from a patriarchal country as well. In the culture where the man is the ruler, it is hard for women to fight their way up. However, when I see modern Indian enterprises, there are women climbing the career stairs, creating start-ups and becoming active in social entrepreneurship. When I compare the business landscapes, I remember Turkey, the country of amazing beaches and luxurious spa hotels. Indeed, when the father was about to die and the land was distributed between the children, women would receive the “least attractive lands” – next to the sea, with no woods and no fields. Who is ruling the touristic field now? India, as well, has a lot of potential, but still need to find the niche for the female leadership.
Beware of Indians who do not see a long-term value in you. Like in every Asian country with a very high population, cheating is a part of the business. Whatever you need, try to ask your friends or business partners – the services and the wares not only will be cheaper, but also will have a better quality.
We all read the stories, how one gives 500 Rupees to a shopkeeper in India, and the shopkeeper tells you that you gave just 400 Rupees. You recount – indeed, he had only 400 Rupees in his hands. On the other hand, Indians are not only about scam. I often noticed that people who had respect to me did not recount the money I gave them, be it a guide, a hotel driver or anybody else. This is, I suppose, a way to demonstrate the trust – therefore, please pay attention that you are giving the right amount of money to each and everyone and feel free to leave a tip if you are satisfied with the services 😉
I am a Russian woman with experience in Asian countries, so I know how to bargain. Indians, however, took my skills to a very different level 😉 Everybody, be it in business or just during the shopping, will test your skills of knowing the real price. In shops, for instance, I never paid the initial price. Nor I paid the 80% of the price. 40% of the initial price was the very maximum, and I was in a hurry. I do not consider smart bargaining to be cheating, but even I felt overwhelmed when a shopkeeper tried to sell me amethysts for a European price for emeralds. You may decide for yourself, whether you want to convince your business partners or shopkeepers that you are smart enough to bargain „on the Indian level” or you just leave and search for somebody who starts with less astronomical offers. I did both and enjoyed the process.
P.s.: Ever wondered, why people in India often ask you, how much did you pay for an item? They want to know, how much Europeans are ready to spend on things. Or, if your price is low enough, how much should they pay when they go to that place so they would not overpay.