The Twenty-Something Series: How working abroad is going (so far!

I've been abroad for work a little recently, and there are a few things I wouldn't have been without! I also share a little update on how it's gone so far in this post.

As I mentioned in this Twenty-Something Series post a short while back, I've had an opportunity with work to go out to Germany to work on a project, for a week at a time (a total of four weeks spread from October to January).

So far, I've had two stints out in Germany, and it's been... an experience.

Eat, sleep, work, repeat.

I've been in a city near(ish) to Dusseldorf, and there's not much cultural tourism around to go sightseeing, like there might have been if I was closer to Dusseldorf, our out in Berlin. 

But besides that, I've not really had a lot of chance to go out exploring. The first stint, I stayed out Friday to Friday, so had a weekend to go out to the shopping mall and wander though the town. (Bloody typical: on the Sunday, I had a horrible cold and had to spend an afternoon dosed up on medicine and cuddled up in bed with Starkid musicals on YouTube.) 

Plus, I've been in work the whole week when I'm out there, and it's been dark early so I've not much fancied going out and about. I'm not exactly Dora the Deutschland Explorer over here.

In all honesty, though, that hasn't bothered me so much. Sure, it'd be nice to sightsee - but like I said: not much to sightsee. I've been pretty happy to go back and read a book, or catch up on some Netflix.

I'm really looking forward to the next time I'm out there - the Christmas markets will be open, and I'll be heading to the one in the city I'm working in AND the one the next town over, where my hotel is. I love me a Christmas market, so I'm really excited about that - and I feel like I can't miss out on a German Christmas market!

As for the work, I've actually really enjoyed the project! The team are friendly, and the work is really interesting too. And I've had great wifi at the hotels I've stayed in so far too, which always helps! The whole project is in English, so the team are speaking English which has helped make me feel a lot less nervous about working out there, but I've tried picking up a few German phrases.

So long, luggage?

Admittedly, I did have an utter nightmare on my first return journey... A transfer flight through Heathrow. Both of my flights were delayed. The baggage belt at Newcastle was broken so it took almost an hour to get all the bags off... only for my bag to not show up at all. And then my taxi driver misheard me, and took me to the wrong town about an extra half-hour out of my way. 

Unsurprisingly, I spent a sleepless night stressing over my luggage. Surprisingly, it was returned to me within twelve hours, by lunch the next day. (Kudos to British Airways - I couldn't fault their customer service there!)

Sprechen Sie Englisch?

I've never been to Germany before, and didn't know much of the language. I'd been teaching myself on Duolingo, and nabbed a few phrases from my phrase book and online - and while most people spoke English, and all the work in the office was in English, there are a few phrases I wouldn't have been without:

  • Hello/Goodbye and Please/Thank you
  • Do you speak English?
  • I'm sorry, my German is not good
  • Can I pay/get a receipt?
It also helped knowing a few foods - like potatoes, different types of meat, and a few vegetables.

Equally, I wouldn't have been without my Google Translate app!

A few other things I found handy for travelling.

Now bear in mind: I'm travelling for work, so I'd packed a bunch of work outfits, plus all my makeup/hair things. That said, I'm not much of a light packer anyway. I might not take a full medical bag like my mum does, but I still had a full suitcase. And here are a few things I'm glad I had with me:
  • A travel cash-card I could top up on-the-go from my phone, if I wanted to
  • The airline app(s) - especially since I couldn't print the boarding passes for my return flights while I was out there.
  • A microfibre travel towel and packing cubes (omg those packing cubes work miracles)
  • Tea bags (bloody hell, was I glad I took my own tea bags - there were NONE in my hotel or at the office, except at breakfast)
  • This beautiful fantastic truly amazing backpack from Amazon, which fit TWO laptops, water bottles, all my wires and a book and notebooks and my woolly jumper and a bunch of other things too... plus it's WATERPROOF. And a total bargain. (I just really loved that backpack, okay?)
  • Dettol wipes. (Alright, Mum, don't rub it in. YES, they were nice to have when I was staying somewhere for a whole week and just helped it feel a little fresher.)
  • A luggage strap and tag. I was especially grateful for this when my luggage didn't show up, and on the lost luggage form I had to say if my bag had any distinguishing features!

What are some of your travel must-haves? Do you have any tips for learning a new language? Share in the comments below!

No comments:

Powered by Blogger.