'Get off your rear end and learn German'
Published: 12 Aug 2013 09:00 CET
Where are you located and what do you do?
I am a licensed aircraft engineer. I live in Gütersloh, but I work at Paderborn-Lippstadt Airport. I co-run a company performing line maintenance on a fleet of Boeing 737NG, 737Classic and Airbus A320 aircrafts. Our work covers anything from cleaning the pilots' windows to replacing engines and undercarriages.
What brought you to Germany and how long have you been here?
As with quite a few expats here in Germany, the military, in my case the Royal Air Force, brought me here for the first time back in 1989. I met my German wife of 23 years on a blind date not long after I arrived. I lived here on and off during 12 years serving in the RAF, before moving into civil aviation.
How did you land your job and do you have tips for anyone seeking similar work?
The first thing I did when I arrived back in Germany after some time in the UK was write blind letters to every airline within 200 km. I had no experience in civil aviation, but I got a couple of replies and interview. My first job was with Eurowings maintaining ATR42 and 72 aircraft and BAE146. I worked for them for just short of 5 years and then again via a blind letter got a job with Air Berlin.
My tip for anyone in Germany looking for a job, is don’t tread the same path as everyone else, be a bit different.
Is it important for you to be able to speak German in your position?
Well if you choose to live and work in a foreign country, then as far as I am concerned you should get off your rear end and learn it to a standard that you can communicate with the people you work with in their own tongue.
My own German is not grammatically perfect, a long way from it, but it is my daily working language. I learned with the help of the Volkshochschule, friends and co-workers - and by pushing my pride deep down in my pockets and using what I had learned.
Some of the spoken mistakes I have made have brought crowded rooms to silence, but you can only learn so far in a classroom or with the help of others. Speaking it is the only way.
What are the best and worst parts about working in Germany?
The worst things are the bureaucracy and the tax rates. Without a bit of paper with an official stamp sometimes I think you will not get further than your front door - and the tax levels are high enough to make a grown man cry.
But I am very happy with my lot. Firstly, when you have the opportunity to live in another country, why not? Secondly, in a couple of hours, I can drive to a dozen different countries without the need for a flight or a ferry crossing. I am fairly sure the standard of living I have here could not be mirrored in the UK.
Do you plan on staying?
In a word, yes. I plan to see my days out here. Although my boys are fluent in English and love visiting family and friends in the UK, Germany is their home and I would not pull them away from it. Also I think that after having the freedom of the German Autobahn for so long, I can't see my drivers license lasting too long in the UK!