Rodrigo (trainee)

"I think the dual vocational courses in Germany are great; you get down to the practical work right away."

You grew up in Spain. Why did you want to do vocational training in Germany?

I’ve been interested in cars since I was a child. That’s why I wanted to work in that field. Also, I was quite sure that I wanted to combine theory and practice. And that’s precisely the advantage of the dual vocational training courses in Germany. They have the right mixture of theory and practice.

What did you family and friends say about your moving to Germany?

My family supported my decision from the start and put me in contact with a company that accepts trainees through a family they were friendly with. My friends thought it was brave of me to go abroad to train; in Spain it’s unusual to leave home at 18. Of course, at first I was really homesick too. But now I think it's really good to have to rely on myself, to have my own flat and take care of myself all on my own. It’s an effort sometimes, but above all it’s a positive experience.

Do you feel at home in your firm?

Oh yes. My co-workers are really nice. During breaks we often stand around together, have a coffee, eat something and chat. I think the others like my directness – I’m always asking questions, for example. At first, I had to get used to the different accents in conversations and sometimes I didn't understand much. My boss, the supervisor and the other co-workers showed me things over and over again and repeated the names of the tools. Now I understand nearly everything, I can even make jokes.

What do you do in your spare time?

I ride around a lot on my BMX and visit the locality. Distances are short here compared with my home city, Madrid, and the routes are good for bikes. It doesn’t take long to get anywhere and familiarise yourself with the town. On streets and squares that aren’t too busy, I can do tricks on my BMX. That way, I meet other young people. At work and on the street, I always go up to people and just start talking to them. They’re a bit surprised sometimes, but they soon let themselves get drawn into a conversation and they think it's good. Lots of them have already been to Spain, that makes it easier to get talking. In the evenings, I like going to clubs and discos or to parties with my friends. I’m really looking forward to summer. I like being out and about and with people.

In your spare time, you help other young Spaniards who have come to Koblenz to train. What do you do?

Many of them can't speak German very well at first. I help them in practical ways. I look at ads for flats with them, or translate letters or texts off the Internet. But of course, most of all we talk about life in Germany and the differences compared with Spain. For example, what time do people eat their evening meal in Germany? What is typical German food? How do you get to know other people? Why do some people roll their “r”s and not others? When you're a foreigner, you have to get to know the customs of your new environment. It helps if you have somebody at your side who knows a bit about it.

Have you already got plans for the future?

I’m still young and lots of possibilities are open to me. Of course the first thing I want to do is pass my training course. After that, what I’d like best is to work in the company for one or two years. I want to see what it’s like to work autonomously – I mean, without supervision. Does everything happen they way you learn it? You can only find out if you’re in charge of a job. I don’t know yet whether I want to stay in Germany after that. But I don't rule out the possibility. I really like it here.

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