Move Me Abroad continues its series of Expat Outlook interviews. This week we pick the brains of Vlad Dogaru, another young Romanian professional who managed to build a thriving marketing career by the time he reached 30, working for a large logistics group in Bonn, Germany. He experienced the American culture for a few months before moving to Germany, and this gave him a broader overview of what is out there in terms of the different benefits of living and working abroad.
What made you move to Germany and what are you doing here?
I came to Germany as part of the International Internships Exchange Program run by AIESEC. Germany was no particular choice though, I would have in general gone in any country.
Have you learnt German? Do the locals appreciate you making the effort to speak their language?
At the beginning learning German has been quite difficult, but it was definitely one of the best investments I have made. You cannot really understand or become part of a culture unless you speak the local language to a basic level. Particularly in Germany, I believe it helps a lot in the daily life and also to make friends outside of the international circles. Locals definitely appreciate the effort and they are very helpful and open, even if you make mistakes while speaking.
How many years have you been living now in Germany and how much time did you need to adjust to your life here?
I have been living here for more than six years. Some studies say that the cultural shock takes about six months, while others mention up to four years. I think it definitely takes a few years to understand the culture to a good extent.
What did you learn from your German experience so far in terms of people, culture, life?
Germany is one of the most advanced economies in the world and working in an international business environment has definitely been a great learning. In my personal experience I’ve learned that Germans are honest, open and very friendly, despite the fact they might seem cold at a first encounter. I think it’s also a very tolerant country, where all individuals and personal beliefs are highly respected.
What do you like the most about living in Germany and the least?
Overall, it’s the people around me, my friends and colleagues that make living in Germany a great experience. What I like the least… I guess, the weather.
You also studied for a Master degree while living and working in Germany. Where and what did you study?
Yes, I did a Master in Marketing at Durham Business School in the North of England.
Tell us a bit about your stint in the US. How was your first contact with the world across the pond? What did you do there?
I lived in Chicago back in 2005 for about three months. It was my first true international experience and overall an amazing time. I had two jobs, working in an office for a Real Estate Company and also as a barista in a coffee shop in downtown Chicago. Quite different worlds, which helped me experience two faces of the US life. Nonetheless, both have required hard work, yet they have been fun experiences.
You travelled quite a bit in Europe and US. What did you enjoy the most? Is there any particular place you’re really fond of?
“Travel is the only thing you buy that makes you richer.” I like many places for different reasons; it probably depends on what you travel for. Most recently I visited San Francisco. The city has a very unique vibe which I enjoyed very much. I also like Croatia, particularly the Hvar Island.
Would you recommend living in Germany to anyone coming from other corners of the world?
Definitely yes. I personally like the people and I feel at home here.
What advice would you give to anyone who would like to move and work abroad?
An important aspect is to be flexible, in terms of yourself and expectations from others. Being easy going and comfortable and having your beliefs challenged help you adapt quicker. You need to embrace the fact that others might see things sometimes completely different from what you are used to back home. Yet that is completely normal, because the culture and overall context are also different.
Photo: View of Bonn from the top of the Post Tower Creative Commons Wikimedia