House hunting

From the past few weeks it has been a very annoying and frustrating and irritating experience. All I want is to shift to a new house and is it so hard to ask? The answer to that would be “Yes, because it is Munich”. I actually thought that it is difficult in India to find a place to stay but in Munich it is next to impossible.  I mean I had heard before, that it is pain in the a** but never believed it to be so tough. Let me take you all briefly through my experience so far.

For the present house of about 40 sq meters if I ask any of you to guess the rent, I think no one would come near. It is beyond imagination. Simply put in words, it is just 1100 Euros (nearly equal to 75,000 Rupees). Fortunately, my Company will be paying till end of this month and from July I need to pay the rent myself. I think that is good enough reason for me to relocate. So, I convince my friend to shift with me thinking that it might be easy to get 2 BHK house. But for my surprise it was the most difficult one. The procedure goes like this… you need to call the agent or the owner and make an appointment. Sometime they provide the appointment date and time on the website (immobilienscout.de) where we search for apartments. Here I was holding my first appointment, waiting to see it. When I went to the address, I was dumb folded to see so many people there on the same time. I mean, it was really like one of our marriages, where people just keep pouring in. This is the only the first hurdle. Once you enter the house, you are allowed to look around and decide for yourself whether you really want to rent the place or not. If you are interested you are suppose to fill a form. If you are thinking it is a simple form with our name and phone number then I’m sorry to disappointment you all. In this form you are supposed to give details about our current address, our employment including salary, any unpaid bills, and references if any. Along with this form a copy of salary slip as a proof of income and a copy of our passport and visa. Oh wait! It is not yet done. So this is the application part. There will be around 30-50 people who will be doing this. After couple of days, the person in charge lets you know if you are that privileged tenant who will be staying in the house. And in my case it was usually a ‘No’. Till today I have no idea on what basis they make their decision. This was the story with 2 BHK houses.

Since it was getting painful, I chose the more painful way (figured that out later :D). I decided to look for shared apartments (Wohngemeinschaft-WG). The procedure is quite same as looking for apartments except here you need to meet all the person living in the apartment. In reality, it is lot more tougher job to convince the guys to choose you. By the way that’s just the pre-selection process :D. After they have selected around 3-4 guys out of 30-40 applications, they provide all details to the house owner. And it is the final call from the owner based on our background and income which decides who is going to stay in the apartments. The best part is there is a website called wg-gesucht.de where one can look for all the shared apartments in Germany and choose to apply which ever they want to. And the worst part is, when you are looking in a big city like Munich, people usually do not provide their contact number and therefore you are forced to email them and at the end of it you hardly find people responding to your emails. Believe it or not, out of 60 emails, I hardly got 7-8 responses. Sometime it even happens that you show up in front of the apartment only to find either no one is there to open the door or the appointment is cancelled because of some ridiculous reason.

After going through so much drama, I was still unsuccessful to find a place. So, I decided to go for third option, which were Studio apartments. In Munich one can find high number of Studio apartments, as there are lot of working professionals come here to stay for short durations. Keeping that in mind, I thought it might make things little easier. But in no way it seemed like that.

Finally I was able to find a Studio apartment only because the agent of my current house referred me to the owner. And the reason for that is, the agent is referred by my company, who are much familiar with foreign professionals (I might sound little racist here, but I am afraid it is one of the criteria.). They are many other factors that are important while finding an apartment like,

  1. Which area you want?
  2. Whether you want furnished or unfurnished?
  3. With furnished kitchen (Einbauküche) or without?
  4. How big and how much you can afford for the rent?
  5. Do you also want Cellar and Garage?
  6. Whether you are fine with paying commission for the agent or not?

This is the whole story of what I have been doing from past 6 weeks. At the end, I would like to give a basic idea on different costs one has to bear while looking for an apartment in cities like Munich (below are only the approximate cost indication),

  1. Rent – Studio: 500 Euros/month, 2 BHK: 900 Euros/month
  2. Additional Rent (water, electricity, etc…) – 100 to 150 Euros/month
  3.  Deposit – 3 x Rent – 1500 to 2700 Euros (one time refundable)
  4. Commission – 2.38 x Rent – 1100 to 2000 Euros (one time non refundable)
  5. Kitchen furnishing – 800 to 1000 Euros
  6. House furnishing – 1500 to 2000 Euros

P.S: I hope I did not bore you guys with my house hunting story… 😛 Wanted to post one from a long time and could not think of any thing else… 🙂

Master-Thesis

I still remember my interview day. I entered the office, collected the guest card from the reception and sat there waiting for my interviewer to receive me. Sitting there looking at the office, I was thinking to myself, that this is where I might want to end up being and this is the kind of office where I want to work. These thoughts kind of inspired me to perform well in my interview. Well, I realized it was just a thought because I still got screwed in the interview, about which I’ll talk soon. Sometimes I question myself, does the marks really show my potential? But after coming so far ahead I realized that I just can’t ask that question. Coming back to interview situation, I was waiting for my interviewer in the lobby and after a while he arrives to receive me. He introduces himself and tells me that the team leader who was supposed to take the interview is not available and he will be taking my interview. I said “fine” and I followed him to the conference room. At the beginning it was all general questions and as I started to think that it was going not so bad, he started asking me the basic technical questions. And I must admit that I really struggled to answer some of them. So after the interview, he said they would contact me in a week to confirm. Roughly after a weeks time I got acceptance call to pursue my Master thesis in this company which was beyond my expectation. Anyways, I was totally excited to work in a German company and to know their culture and of course the money which I would get during this period.

The company is located in Gifhorn and since its a small city, I decided to live in Hannover. Hannover is a very beautiful city with around 520,000 residents. Its the kind of city that you can fall love with and I cannot pin point to one thing. It took me 40 minutes in train to reach Gifhorn and a 10 minutes walk to the company from the train station (Bahnhof).

On the first day, I got introduced to the team and had a briefing about my assignment from my Guide. Then my guide took me to the students room, where all the students who are doing their internship or thesis were sitting in a separate office. I selected a desk for myself and I got introduced to rest of the students in the room. It took me few days to understand the working culture and expectation from the people, rather took me quite long time. The initial few days my guide explained me the main points and the scope of my work, by the way it was all in German. So, I understood half of it and assumed the rest :D. It went fine for couple of months. Yes, you guys read it right, it went on like 2-3 months. She used to explain me the work and other important things but then I could understand only half of it. It was really difficult days for me, since I had no exposure to technical German. Even simple words like automobile (Fahrzeug), input (Einganggroße), speed (Geschwindigkeit), gear (Getriebe) and so on… Unfortunately, my English has become worse as I hardly speak the language. Getting back to the topic, time was running but my thesis work stayed pending. Daily I used to spend more time in understanding what I need to do rather than actually doing the work. Every week we used to have team meeting and even there I could hardly understand anything. To tell more about the work culture, when some task is assigned to you, it is expected that I perform it independently and also come out with the ways of doing it with a good explanation. Which is very different from India (Indien), where people are expected to just do their job. I mean the difficulty lies in the quality of the work. Here, as a student I was involved in the research work, where I need to come out with some new ideas and techniques to do the task given to me, whereas in India, how to go ahead with the tasks is told by my manager or it is previously well defined or we just do what our client asks us to. There is hardly any creativity involved in there. And the freedom of doing how I want, of course with a valid explanation to it can hardly be seen in our working culture. Due to these differences there was lot misunderstandings between me and my guide. Let me not go to all those sentiments. I will rather keep them for myself.

The stress part of the work was just one side of it. The most memorable would be the fun I had with other students and also my stay in Hannover. There were couple of guys from Hannover, Jens and Dietmer, we used to travel together in train and hang out together in some weekends with a Mexican, Gerardo in Hannover. We went to couple of football matches, which used to be total fun, went to bars, had lots of beer, bitched about our work and so on. Since I was new to the city, I also joined a group called ‘Couch Surfing’. Through here I met couple of new people and made some good friends. I had the chance to meet all kind of interesting and crazy people through this forum. I think I will write a separate post on that. So this was the fun part of my thesis period.

The main point is that I managed to successfully complete my thesis with all the difficulties and extension of my contract period in the company. It has been a good learning experience and a little exposure to the German Industry and their working culture. Hope I could take all the positives from my experience and grow ahead in the future.