Searching the world to find myself – Looking back at 2015

The new year is already one week old, but only now have I finally found the time to thoroughly review the past year. I have already done a small review in September, six months into the internship and after about half of us had already left Pune. I am not a big fan of New Year’s resolutions, instead I found that looking back into the past year and at what worked and what didn’t is a much better way to figure out where you want to focus your energy in the next year.

Continue reading “Searching the world to find myself – Looking back at 2015”

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Following the India Route – Part Three

Hey Guys ♥

By now, I have finally arrived in Pune!

Laxmi Road in Pune, Maharashtra.
Laxmi Road in Pune, Maharashtra.

But first things first, before Batch 18 was ready to embark on our Indian adventure, we were invited to a two-day introduction seminar in Heidelberg, Germany. We arrived there on Wednesday, February 18, and stayed at the Hip Hotel, which is absolutely fabulous! Every room is themed after another city of the world, which made for some great dinner conversations! I was staying in room Prague, which was stunningly beautiful and exactly to my taste: A giant canopy bed, white “brick” walls, and an antique street lantern as the main light source of the room 🙂

My room in Heidelberg :)
My room in Heidelberg 🙂

Heidelberg Prague (2) Heidelberg Prague (3)

After a few welcome drinks on Wednesday, Thursday was the first day of the seminar, followed by a lovely dinner at the Heidelberger Kulturbrauerei. Friday evening and all of Saturday were free, and we used the time to explore Heidelberg and enjoy the cold and the rain for one last time before our departure to more tropical climates 😉

Castle ruins in Heidelberg
Castle ruins in Heidelberg
Collapsed tower at Heidelberg Castle
Collapsed tower at Heidelberg Castle

Sunday was the big day. After one last breakfast with lots of Nutella and Croissants, we were picked up to go to the airport in Frankfurt/Main. The last few hours on German soil for the foreseeable future! The flight itself was rather uneventful, although I wished I could have slept a few hours more. Instead, I made extensive use of the in-flight entertainment program. I watched Nightcrawler (which was … good?), The first episode of Penny Dreadful (could be interesting), the start of True Detective (didn’t quite get into it), and the first half of Pride, which was wonderful, but unfortunately the flight was over too fast so I still have to finish it sometime 😉

And then, at ~ 4 am, we finally arrived at Pune International Airport! After spending quite some time with customs/health inspection/border control, we finally stepped outside into the Indian air in the early morning! The weather was absolutely wonderful, our pick-up was already there, and off we were to our flats!

My home for the next nine months!
My home for the next nine months!

After a tour of all the flats and some important information, I finally went to sleep at 7 am, only to get up about 4 hours later to unpack and get ready for our Welcome-Pizza-Party, but more about that and our first few days in Pune with the next post 😉

See you guys! ✿✿✿

Following the India Route – Part Two

Hey Guys ♥

By now you know how the application and selection process for the internship went, but the really stressful part was only just beginning. After the first few days of euphoria and disbelief and then euphoria again, it was time to settle matters in Germany and prepare everything for my departure to India. I got the call on December 1st, which meant there were only 2 ½ months left before my departure in February. If you’ve ever spent a considerable amount of time abroad, you know how many annoying things need to be taken care of. I’ll take another assessment center any day before going through that again 😀

The first things I did were quitting my current job, and then tell my landlord that I was already moving out again. Suddenly, I found myself on the other end of the apartment hunt, which was certainly a welcome change 😀 I actually had to take the ad offline after only 30 minutes because of the number of applicants. I quickly found someone who wanted to rent the apartment, and my landlord was generally okay with him as the new tenant, but was a bit worried about the fact that he was a professional musician and would practice inside the flat. Which is how I found myself in the middle of a privat concert played on a 300-year old baroque violin to see if the neighbors would mind. They didn’t, and that was one more obstacle out of the way.

Now it was time to get a passport (including a frantic, but ultimately successful search for my original birth certificate) and all the recommended vaccinations (including a frantic, but ultimately unsuccessful search for my vaccination card). By now, the assistants at my doctor’s office know me by name, which isn’t too surprising considering that I went there almost every day to get vaccinations during January! Tomorrow I’m finally getting my last rabies shot, and then I’m done 😀 Throughout the weeks following our acceptance for the internship program, we kept hearing back from Springer regularly, getting new information, tips, but also to-do lists with things we needed to prepare for our stay at Crest in Pune. After we received our official employment contract (aka proof that I was going to move to India), it was time to cancel my broadband and electricity contracts, which worked surprisingly well (and quick!).

And then the last big step: getting a Visa. Thankfully, Springer supplied us with an extensive folder of all the documents necessary for our application, plus a handy guide on how to fill out the online application form, which meant that the actual application wasn’t all that complicated (despite a few hiccups and uncertainties). They even reimbursed the fees for our Visa applications! On Friday morning, I went to Frankfurt to apply for the Visa in person, and after less than 45 minutes (including the time it took me to take a passport photo) I was already leaving again. Monday evening, I already received an email saying that I could pick my passport up again. At first I ignored this, thinking that it would be stupid to pick the passport up before the Visa was ready, meaning that I’d have to go there twice, but then I realized that it probably meant the Visa was ready too so I went there today. After waiting for another 15 minutes or so, I am now finally in possession of an Indian employment Visa 🙂

Well at least it's not the worst picture of my face I have so there's that
Well at least it’s not the worst picture of my face I have so there’s that

Now, you might have noticed that there are certain topics you’d expect in a post about going abroad that I didn’t touch upon, namely flights, accommodation, health insurance, … That’s simply because I did not have to prepare anything in that regard! Springer offers their interns what they call the “100% sorglos Paket” (“100% carefree package”), including free flights to and from Pune, shared apartments, and health insurance. They even went as far as sending us a list with books available at our apartments, prepared by the present interns in Pune, so that we wouldn’t have to carry heavy books with us that were already in our apartments. I guess when you work for a publishing company, a certain level of bookishness is to be expected 😀

And just like that, there was only one more thing left to do: saying goodbye to family and friends in Germany. Unfortunately, I won’t be able to say goodbye to everyone in person, but I was able to have one last dinner with my amazing (now ex-) colleagues and will spend the next ten days or so traveling through Germany (and to the UK!) to say goodbye to as many people as possible. That should get me prepared for the flight to Pune 😀

In two weeks, the preparation days will start, and I’ll probably update you then with a post on German-Indian communication, cultural differences and how to live and work as a German in India 🙂

See you then! ✿✿✿

Following the India Route – Part One

(c) Pixabay
(c) Pixabay

Hey Guys ♥

It’s been less than a year since Terry’s and my big Ireland/UK adventure, but to be honest, I was already thinking about leaving again before we landed back in Germany. But first of all, I had to get back to work, start my last semester at Uni, write my Master’s Thesis, …. and start applying for jobs. Now, (reasonably well paid) intern- or traineeships in the publishing industry are hard to come by, so I pretty much applied for everything that seemed at least slightly interesting in hopes to avoid unemployment and get a foot in the door, so to speak. One of the offers I found was Springer’s Cross-Cultural Internship in India, a six-months paid internship at one of Springer’s partner companies in Pune, Maharashtra. The offer seemed too good to be true, so I actually debated whether or not I should apply for quite some time. A paid internship for one of the biggest science publishers worldwide, in India nonetheless? Surely they’d be flooded with applications and mine certainly wouldn’t catch their eye. Even though I was still convinced that I would never hear back from them, I did send in my application during the summer of ’14. The internship was supposed to start in February and the application deadline was in November, so obviously I did indeed not hear back from them for a while and completely forgot about my application. One rejection letter after the other came in, until I finally got a job at the Harry PotterExhibition in Cologne. Even though this was only a part-time position for a few months, it was better than doing nothing and moving back home.

01_02
(c) Odysseum Köln

A few weeks after starting my job at the Odysseum, I received an email out of nowhere. From Springer. Subject: Invitation to Assessment Center. At first I didn’t even realize what the subject line said and figured it would be another rejection. Nope. They had actually invited me to their assessment center, which was supposed to take place about two weeks later. I was going completely crazy, but didn’t really have time to freak out because with the invitation came some “homework”, which was due a few days later. So with no functioning broadband at home, I found myself at Starbucks™ with a jasmine-orange tea and slightly wonky wifi the very next day. I still managed to complete and send the assignment (the latter took me three tries, it was very nerve-wrecking) and all that was left to do was wait, panic, google “assesment center what do”, panic again, google “job interview hALp”, write down some questions, practice answers, freak out at the prospect of going to India only to remind myself not to freak out because I’d only be disappointed if I didn’t get the internship, and wait some more. Finally, day one of the assessment center came, and I couldn’t wait to get started. I had literally spent the last two weeks preparing myself, researching the company and the internship program, writing down interesting questions to ask during a job interview, and planned on how to present my professional and academic experiences and goals in a way that screamed “HIRE ME! I’M RIGHT FOR THIS!” If you know me, you know that I absolutely loathe waiting and not being able to do anything, so I was anxious to finally start the assessment center and do my best.

(c) Pixabay
(c) Pixabay

In the morning, me and the other aspiring interns took a cab (or rather, a few cabs) from our hotel to Springer’s (Springer Science+Business Media, that is, not the other big publishing company called Springer *cough cough*) offices, where the assessment center was to be held for the next two days. Before we got to introduce and prove ourselves though, we first got an introduction to the company’s history and the internship program, which got started almost ten years ago. As far as I can remember, we were about 20 applicants, and 12 of us were to be chosen to go to Pune. We were lucky enough to hear an ex-intern who had recently returned from India talk about her experiences, and her enthusiasm and joy made me want to jump on a plane and go straight to Pune. We were also told more practical details about the internship, regarding our future positions and responsibilities at the company, the duration of the internship (we could chose between 6 and 9 months) our living arrangements, the social aspect of our stay (all interns get the chance to work with an orphanage and a mobile “School on Wheels” during their stay), and the numerous trips and events that would take place in and around Pune, organized by Springer and our colleagues at Crest (the company we’d work for). During and in between presentations, we were more than well cared for with cookies, softdrinks, tea and coffee, lunch and dessert. Seriously, the food at the assessment center was both a blessing and a curse, as my waistline will tell you. Now for the next 1 ½ days, it was our turn. I can’t tell you what the tasks were, but they were all very interesting, reasonable, and even fun 🙂 Nothing to be scared of in case you’re thinking about applying, too 😉 Even though we had all known each other for less than 48 hours, we were really sad to say goodbye after the end of the second day, but at the same time very hopeful to meet again in Pune 🙂

Now came the really hard part, waiting. Again. Thankfully, the wait wasn’t that long, and on the following Monday (the assessment center was on Thursday/Friday), I got a call from Berlin. The call came while I was at work, so during my lunchbreak (which I spent at the mall) I called them back.

Me: “Yes hello, you called earlier, but I was at work so I wanted to call you back ….”
Woman on phone [in very soft, sympathetic voice]: “Yes, thank you. I wanted to talk to you about the results of the assessment center … Is now a good time?”
Me: No, I’m in the middle of a busy mall at lunchtime I can’t have bad news right now

Me: “Yes of course.”
Woman on phone: “Okay. So we liked how you performed at this task and that task, and you were very convincing during that part ….”
[PAUSE]
Me: OMG THERE’S A BUT THERE’S A BUT
Woman on phone: “And we would like to invite you to India ….”
[PAUSE]
Me: OMG THERE’S A BUT THERE’S A BUT
[PAUSE]
Woman on phone: “Will you please think about the offer and give us your final answer by Wednesday?”
Me: OMFG THERE WAS NO BUT???? I’M GOING TO INDIA?????
Me: “Yes of course thank you very much!”

And thus I’m going to conclude part one of this little introduction to my Indian adventure 🙂 Next time, I’ll talk a bit about all the necessary preparations I had to go through before going to India, then there may or may not be a post about the introduction days we’ll have in Heidelberg (depending on how much time/energy I’ll have left afterward and how much I’ll be allowed to say) and the final, introductory part will talk about my arrival in Pune and will give you some background on the city I’ll be calling home for the better part of 2015.

See you soon! ✿✿✿