"You always need to be ready to respond flexibly"
Uttam Kumar is a trainee in the profession of "Specialist in the hotel business" at Hotel Randsbergerhof in Cham, in Bavaria, Germany. He prepared for this via a bridging course run by bbw International in his home country of India. bbw International has been a member of the iMOVE network for many years. iMOVE spoke with Uttam Kumar about his experiences.
iMOVE: Mr Kumar, the hotel and hospitality sector in Germany is currently facing huge problems in finding new talent. What was it that made you decide to come to Germany to train as a specialist in the hotel business?
Uttam Kumar: I worked for two years in a hotel in India and it was all going well. I like the hotel trade because it's a dynamic sector and offers lots of opportunities. I really want to develop professionally and for a career, you need international experience. That's why I looked for an opportunity to work abroad.
This decision wasn't easy. I would love to be closer to my family and eat home-cooked food every day. But I believe that if you want to achieve something exceptional, you have to get out of your comfort zone and make sacrifices.
I found out from a consultancy organisation in India about the option of training as a specialist in the hotel business in Germany. In order to acquire a visa, you need proof of sufficient German language skills following completion of a language course. I was really attracted by that because I had always wanted to learn another language.
The working conditions in Germany were another incentive. The relationship between employer and employee is clearly regulated. You work for eight hours a day and have two days off in the week. In India, this is not always the case.
Then there are the high standards of living in Germany, the German health insurance, and the free education services. The people are also really welcoming.
iMOVE: How did you prepare in India for the training in Germany? Did you take advantage of any offers available to you, such as a bridging course?
Uttam Kumar: I did actually attend a bridging course offered by an Indian training provider in collaboration with the Educational Association of the Bavarian Economy (bbw). This included the language course, the placement with an appropriate German training company, help with the interview, specialist practical and intercultural preparation for the training and for living in Germany, and also support with the visa application.
iMOVE: How did you adjust to training in Germany, and how is it going at the moment?
Uttam Kumar: I'd say it's going well. I think the teaching system overall and the teaching at the vocational school are both very modern. The teachers are extremely cooperative. I have lots of fellow students who are also from abroad and the teachers want everyone to be able to follow the lessons in the same way. They therefore speak German slowly and in a way which is easy to understand. The school also offers additional German classes for international learners so we can improve our language skills quickly. I think that's really impressive.
iMOVE: How is it for you being in Germany?
Uttam Kumar: The people in Germany treat me very well, and not just at work. To start with, my German wasn't great, but there's always someone to help me, for example with shopping or travel. Somebody always came up to me and asked if I needed help.
I get along really well with my colleagues. The kitchen team know I'm vegetarian and there's a constant supply of new vegetarian dishes for me. So I don't feel I'm on my own here.
iMOVE: What did you find particularly difficult or complicated when you made your move to Germany?
Uttam Kumar: Getting a visa was really hard. You have to provide a huge amount of paperwork and it also takes ages. This really tests your patience.
iMOVE: What or who helped you?
Uttam Kumar: You obviously need a supportive family if you’re trying to do something new. Luckily, my family is really willing to help.
However, the fact that I am here in Germany today is largely down to the Educational Association of the Bavarian Economy (bbw) and Jens Kayser, who is a member of staff there. He supported me and the other bridging course participants at every stage of our journey to Germany. I've had 15 to 20 online meetings and I've met him three times in person. He has never refused my request for a meeting or delayed a meeting. When I had difficulties applying for a visa, Jens was the one who contacted the German embassy in Delhi directly. My visa was ready two weeks later.
iMOVE: What are the key things you need to be prepared for?
Uttam Kumar: The route into training is an international process, it can take a long time and depends on many factors which you have little or no ability to influence. These include, for example, natural disasters such as the COVID-19 pandemic, visa regulations and examination dates. There is no guarantee you'll be able to move to Germany within six to eight months. You always need to be ready to respond flexibly.
iMOVE: What are you hoping for specifically during the rest of your professional work in Germany and during your stay here?
Uttam Kumar: At the moment, I'm enjoying working in catering in Germany and would like to continue with this for as long as possible. I am currently expanding my knowledge of wine as part of the training. I recently passed a sommelier examination. I'm now trying to achieve the next level.
- The interview was conducted by Silvia Niediek.