Rui Firmino is a classic example of new Europe: the 37-year-old from Portugal spent more than a decade in Ireland and then moved to Germany, where he spends a lot of his working day playing computer games. Although his English is practically perfect, he is keen to learn more German to help put down more roots in Frankfurt.
Where are you, and what do you do?
I’m living in Frankfurt and I’m a Portuguese Games Tester for Nintendo through an external agency.
Can you describe your job in a little more detail – do you actually get paid to play video games all day?
No, we don’t just get paid to play games all day, we wish! Our role is to test new games, manuals and other written materials for bugs, logging these bugs and making sure they are fixed when we get an updated version. Our goal is that when a product is released it will be 100 percent bug-free.
What brought you to Germany and what are your impressions so far?
I’d been living in Ireland for the last 12 years or so. Starting in 2008 I’d travel to Germany every summer for Wacken Open Air, a metal music festival. I think I just fell in love with the country and decided to move over here around the summer of 2010.
I finally got offered this position in February last year. Working for Nintendo was a bit of a dream job so I packed my bags and never looked back!
The language barrier made more of a difference than I expected. I’m pretty much perfectly fluent in English and was used to being able to communicate easily living in Dublin and now even though Frankfurt is an expat-friendly city I miss the easy and fun interaction with the locals and being able to read and understand everything. But this is also a bit of a challenge and part of the fun!
How did you get your job?
I just saw it advertised online, applied for it, did a couple of tests over a few months and finally got invited for an interview at Nintendo in Frankfurt just over a year ago. It was a simple enough process though it happened over a year or so. My agency ZIW made my move very easy and smooth, by setting me up with an apartment, helping with all the bureaucracy and pretty much doing all they could to help me settle in Frankfurt.
How did not being German affect, positively or negatively, getting your job?
My Portuguese language skills were one of the main reasons I got this job, so not being German was a big plus in my case!
How does being a foreigner affect, positively or negatively, doing your job and interacting with colleagues?
Nintendo has a very international environment, English is pretty much the main working language here and I think Germans may actually be in the minority in this office. This is a very diverse company. The only negative I can think of is that I can’t really speak German yet so always have to speak English with the German colleagues, which is not ideal for me.
What are the best and worst parts of working in Germany?
One of the worse things for me is the amount of tax we have to pay over here, I was used to Ireland which has a much lower rate of income tax and it’s painful to see all the deductions on my pay slip now!
Then again, I do feel like we enjoy a much better infrastructure and more importantly, a good health system. Also, the cost of living is lower in Frankfurt than in Dublin so it almost evens out. The best part is having a very cool job and actually being in Germany, I love this country and can’t wait to explore it further and improve my German so I can actually communicate more easily and settle in better.
Having lived in Ireland and now Germany, and coming from Portugal, what are your thoughts on how easy it is for young people to move around the European Union for work – or find work in the first place.
I think both countries could do a lot more to help young people find work either at home or abroad. As far as I know there are no official programs to help people find a job within the EU in either country.
That said, I think people in Portugal are worse off by far. This crisis has hit them very hard, unemployment is at 17 percent and rising and so are taxes. Many companies are closing down and the economy is contracting. The minimum wage is only €565 a month so most people will have difficulty just saving enough money to be able to move abroad.
That said, the younger generation are often highly qualified and with good language skills, making them attractive to foreign employers who are increasingly looking for skilled Portuguese workers. It seems to me though, that most move abroad because they’ve been forced into it by economic circumstances and that’s unfortunate.
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