Marnie, originally from Zamboanga City in the Philippines, joined Care With Care in 2014. It was quite an exciting journey for her as she worked in various cities in Germany first, then met her future husband in Europe in 2018 and will now transition to the UK to work as nurse there. We asked her a couple of questions about her experience with Care With Care, her life in Germany, etc. Do look forward to discover some insights about the program and what will expect you as a nurse in Europe.
1. When did you join the Care With Care program?
I joined the Care With Care program around 2014 when I was still learning the German language. I initially saw their poster at the Goethe-Institut and I was intrigued, so I did my own research about them and joined.
2. Why did you decide to join Care With Care? Why did you decide to go abroad and work as a nurse in Europe?
I joined Care With Care because I felt like I am part of a family. They prioritize my well-being, safety and satisfaction. As part of the pioneer batch of nurses to Germany, it meant less stress for me since they took care of everything. Furthermore, working as a nurse in Europe was my dream. Since I was a little girl, Europe fascinated me. From the medieval castles to the wonderful Christmas markets, I've always loved Europe.
3. Why did you choose Germany as destination country?
Coincidence. I saw late-night news about Germany needing nurses and I said to myself: " Yes, I am going there". Since then I've researched about Germany, its rich history, culture, food, people, and I was drawn to it. I liked the challenge! And knowing myself, I would face every hurdle to reach my goals and aspirations.
4. How long did it take to get to Germany after having signed up with Care With Care?
A few months only.
5. What was the most intense/exhausting part of the program? What was the biggest hurdle for you to overcome?
The most exhausting part for me were those trips to the POEA for some documentation. And the biggest hurdle for me was the waiting time for the approval of the documents. I am not really the patient type :)
6. How did you manage that hurdle?
I spent time with my family, and ate those comfort foods that I know I will miss.
7. Thinking back to your arrival in Germany, how can you describe the first months?
Culture shock and lots of adjustment. Although I've read about Germany, it was still different than anticipated.
8. Which job(s) did you take in Germany? Where did you work?
I first worked as a "Pflegefachkraft" at an elderly care home in Baden-Wuerttemberg. Later I moved to Munich to work there.
9. What is nice about your job here?
I practiced my language skills with the elderly. It was fun and they appreciate the fact that I am speaking their language. Although they spoke in a colloquial "Schwäbisch" accent and not "Hochdeutsch", I loved the challenge and it was fun. Also, my colleagues were really friendly and helpful, especially to a newbie.
10. What is very different compared to the Philippines? Where did you e.g. need time to adjust?
The "Grundpflege" or basic care of the elderly. I really struggled with that, but I've learned quickly. In the Philippines, the family is responsible for taking care of the patient's basic needs like bathing, dressing up, oral feeding. Because of the tight family ties in the Philippines, elderly care homes are almost non-existent.
11. How is the welcoming culture at work here in Germany?
Well, most Germans are direct and efficient at work so they almost expect the same. If you have questions, ask them directly. Don't be shy or keep it to yourself. Better ask questions than make mistakes. They would appreciate that.
12. Are/were you satisfied with your employer(s)?
Yes, I am grateful for every opportunity that I've had. Right now I am working at a neurology department in a hospital, and my employer takes good care of the nurses. I am blessed.
13. How would you rate the monthly salary a nurse gets in Germany?
It would depend on your years of experience and which part of the country you work. Gross income minus the tax, rent, insurance, etc. would probably leave you with 60% of the money.
14. Is it easy to develop a career as a nurse here in Germany?
I think it depends on a person's capabilities. One needs perseverance and determination to learn the language and work efficiently.
15. Do you like Germany? What is good about it?
I LOVE Germany! I love the work life balance here. Also, Germans are generous with vacation, the healthcare system is amazing as well as the pension/retirement plan, unemployment benefits...
16. Is there something strange you observe here in Germany?
Strange: blowing the nose in public (In Asia, that is totally rude.), straw in a hot coffee (Really?!), Germans hate aircon (even during melting summer weather), the "Freikörperkultur"--think it's nobody's business (I just can't...), groceries and stores are open until 8 pm only and closed on Sundays (It's like a war/end of the world situation inside grocery on Saturday eves).
17. What are in your eyes the advantages of living in the heart of Europe? Did you e.g. travel a lot? If so, where have you been?
Traveling. Yes, I've been to a lot of European countries. Aside from Germany, I love the Czech Republic. It is enchanting!
18. Did you ever regret going abroad for work and living?
No, I am a very independent person. No regret!
19. What are your plans for the future? What do you want to achieve?
Founding my own family and finally be with my fiancé in the UK.
20. Did Care With Care help you to follow that path (transitioning to the UK)?
Of course, they've always been supportive to me and my career advancements. Care With Care even sponsored my review and paid for my exams.
21. How do you evaluate the Care With Care program? What is special and helpful about it?
Excellent! I knew my intuition was right from the start. Care With Care continues to support my goals. I can communicate with them any time and they always help me with my queries.
22. Do you think it is worth investing a lot of time and also money in finally being able to work and live abroad?
Yes, if that is what you really want. I invested in the language course and the return is ten-fold.
23. What would you recommend fresh program participants when they e.g. struggle with language studies?
Fact: German language is difficult. It is what it is. Find ways to make the learning process FUN. My recommendations would be: Listen to German radio stations, watch movies and shows you like in German, read books. If you are a make-up enthusiast, watch German gurus on YouTube. If you like to cook/bake, read recipes in German. Practice, practice, practice. Don't hesitate. Lose the perfection. As much as grammar is important, it makes sense to just speak confidently as long as your message is conveyed.
Thank you so much, Marnie, for all the insights you gave us here! We keep our fingers crossed that you quickly make it to the UK to be able to follow a career with another good employer. Yours Care With Care team
Zuo Chen joined Care With Care as a Programme Manager in 2017 and has since then been responsible for the requests of the programme participants, being nurses from abroad. Zuo especially takes care of the nurses' needs until they enter the country of destination. Care With Care primarily provides nurses from the Philippines to German and British clinics, senior care and rehabilitation facilities. Above all, the programme focuses on the successful integration of the recruited nursing staff to ensure that the nurses remain with their employers long-term.