When Radcliffe moved to Germany, he never thought he would be there for longer than a year. I recently had a chat with him where he shared his interesting experience of travelling to Germany from Jamaica to learn German and eventually settling there fully. He also shared some insightful tips for people who wish to travel abroad. Read on to learn some things from Radcliffe’s experience.
How Germany Happened
Radcliffe is from a humble family in Kingston, Jamaica, where he grew up with his mother and siblings. After completing high school, he proceeded to work on a construction site for two years, after which he went to work at an appliance store for another two years to make ends meet. He has always wanted to be independent and cater for his family.
Interestingly, he never wanted to migrate to Germany. His preferred destination was the United States of America until he took an interest in the German language. His cousin, who lives in Germany, inspired him. Whenever she was home for the holidays, she spoke German with her husband.
Radcliffe found the language fascinating, and his interest was piqued. He wanted to learn German, so he made inquiries and found that there was a study visa he could apply for to enable him to travel to Germany. This visa would let him stay in Germany for a year while attending language classes. So he applied for the German language course and visa.
The visa is called the “German language course visa.” It is a form of educational visa provided to foreigners who plan to finish a 12-month intensive language course in Germany. His love for the German language made him decide to visit Germany.
When I asked why he had to go all the way just to learn German, he made a solid point. He mentioned that he wouldn’t have learned German efficiently enough if he had registered to learn it in Jamaica. The reason is simple. In Jamaica, he would most likely forget the language and learn it slower because there were no people with whom he could practice what he learned.
He travelled to Germany in March 2019 to learn the German language. He stayed with his family and could not work while studying because his visa did not allow that. He paid every month for his classes and improved greatly. The German course went well, and Radcliffe is currently fluent in the language thanks to his classes and constant practice.
As earlier mentioned, his visa was for a year’s duration. So he was supposed to leave Germany after his German language course in March 2020. Radcliffe had bought his ticket, packed his bags, and was ready to leave for Jamaica when something interesting happened. The COVID-19 pandemic struck, causing a lockdown and travel restrictions all over the world.
He could not make his trip back to Jamaica as planned, so he stayed back in Germany. Eventually, he got a visa extension and a work permit. He currently volunteers with the Red Cross, where he works with disabled people. His job allows him to earn money and also get exposure to German culture.
From the look of things, Radcliffe has fallen in love with Germany and will be staying back there indefinitely. He plans to apply for Ausbildung, an apprenticeship programme, after his volunteer work. During the Ausbildung program, he will gain relevant work experience and skills that will enable him to work and settle fully in Germany.
Life in Germany
When asked about the lifestyle in Germany, Radcliffe noted a few differences between Jamaica and Germany. The German way of life is more serious than life in Jamaica. People mind their business in Germany and start conversations only when necessary. The work culture in Germany is strict and straightforward.
He has not experienced any form of racism since he got to Germany. He mentioned that it could be because he is light-skinned or that the Germans are welcoming. Whenever he mentioned to people who asked that he was from Jamaica, they were pleased to meet him and wanted to know more about his home country.
He described Germany as a peaceful and calm country with amazing security. You can walk on the streets at night and not get robbed. So far, he likes the environment and way of life. However, he’s not been able to get a lot of Jamaican food in Germany. He mentioned that there was a lot of African food in Germany but Jamaican food is scarce there.
The best part of living in Germany is that he can now speak the language and can communicate and socialise with people easily. Living in Germany has changed his life in the sense that he has learnt a lot about diversity. He’s more alert and punctual about everything. His experience in Germany has broadened his mind.
Advice for Potential Immigrants
Because the idea of sharing these stories is for you to learn from immigrants’ experiences, Radcliffe left three interesting pieces of advice for people who want to travel abroad.
- Make plans and go for it: Granted, plans can change but it is important to make them regardless. This would give you an idea of the steps to take. It’s not recommended to simply “wish” to travel abroad with no plans or vision. He had the plan to go and study the German language and he worked to achieve this. When you don’t make plans and eventually travel abroad, you will be confused and disappointed because you may not know what direction to take. When you eventually make plans, don’t just fold your arms and expect it to all work out. Take action to make your plans a reality.
- Be strategic when sending money back home: It’s okay to send money back home but be strategic about it. People who migrate to developed countries from underdeveloped and developing countries are usually expected to send money back home. Most times, depending on the family and situation back home, the request never ends. Radcliffe’s advice for people, in this case, is for them to ask what business their family back home would like to start or something they would like to invest in to bring them a steady income. That way, you can send money back home to assist with their proposed business. This would save you from sending money home every month and allow you to save money. It is important to save and spend wisely while living abroad. Save as much or as little money as you can because it may come in handy in the future. You never want to be stranded in a foreign country.
- Be flexible: Radcliffe’s initial plan was to travel to the USA but when he got interested in the German language, he knew he needed to be flexible with his plans. Always be flexible and open to possible opportunities. Being flexible will expose you to many opportunities that you did not formerly consider.
Personally, I find Radcliffe’s story to be inspiring. And I think the COVID-19 travel restriction coincidence was a good thing for Radcliffe, and it’s great that he saw the opportunity and seized it.
Are you interested in reading more stories from Germany? Read Trang’s story.