Kristina Alam, Germany Alumna, shares her first experiences in Germany. Kristina talks about her personal difficulties and her recommendations for incoming Lebanese and foreign students, researchers and young professionals wanting to move to Germany.
At the age of 16, I was inspired by a German neighbor. Her attitude impressed me. She was a very punctual and correct person. This encouraged me to get to know more about Germany. I decided to start with German languages courses in Beirut and ended up visiting the country for a two-month intensive course in Düsseldorf. My first impression of Germany was amazing. I was really impressed by its structured system, cleanliness, punctuality and well-organized way of life. This all encouraged me to pursue my university studies in Munich. I was aware though that taking this journey on my own wouldn't be easy.
Before moving to Germany, I would have taken more time to prepare myself and exchange information with experienced people, either German or Lebanese fellows, in order to better invest my time. I started the hard way - from zero, learning by doing. I wish I would have known that time and energy is the most valuable resource we have. I wish I had had a mentor, a network and more people around me to guide me through my personal and professional journey in order to accelerate the learning process.
I would definitely encourage everyone to reflect on their personal and professional goals first. Define a clear target of what you want to pursue (short and long term). Then I would recommend not to be shy or scared to reach out for support or guidance and to connect with professionals and institutions in Germany. Simply never stop asking questions, because there are no wrong questions.
The two most challenging experiences were on a personal level. First, when I moved to Munich for my studies and later professionally, and when I started my first job after graduation. Munich is a very attractive city so moving to Munich started with the big challenge of finding accommodation. And without having any local support, it was extremely difficult.
What helped at that time was strong motivation, belief and positive thinking. As for the second challenge, it started when I got accepted as one of 70 applicants at Bosch for a two-year accelerated junior manager program. The professional challenge was to drive innovative ideas and implement those in a traditionally conservative organization. Through constant observation, precise communication and the great support of my mentor, I managed to get ideas through and to implement them successfully.
I have had great opportunities to work with qualified and experienced associates from different industries and learn more about German business ethics. I recall becoming more mature, responsible, independent and finally taking my life into my own hands. Especially as a female engineer, I feel respected and appreciated in this society.