Making a move abroad - from Bolivia to Hamburg

First a little background

I’ve always felt interested in Germany, a country full of history, beautiful landscapes, and home of many tech companies. One day, I decided to start learning German and didn’t stop until I reached a pretty decent level - B1 😉. In 2018, I had the chance to take a one-month German course in Düsseldorf, and then one more month in Aachen. I come from a country where the public transport is terrible. One of the first things I liked here was the efficient public transport, which makes it very convenient to get from place to place without owning a car. The travel options from Germany are also great, since it is located in the centre of Europe. During those two months, I visited other countries such as the Netherlands, Belgium, Italy, and France. Overall this first experience strengthened my desire of living and working in Germany. Once I came back to Bolivia, I started looking for jobs.

The application process

Applying for a job took a couple of weeks, and the entire process was handled remotely. I submitted my application to ePages in late 2018. One week later, Serena, the HR Recruiter, sent me an invitation for a Skype interview with her. After the interview, I had to solve a coding challenge. Once I completed the task, I sent my solution to Serena. The next week, I had a Hangouts session with Unai, one of the developers of my current team, to discuss about a few things about my code and my previous experience. In the next days, I had a Skype interview with Harm, the CTO, and Serena. Finally, I received the offer from ePages 10 days before Christmas. So, this was like an early Christmas present for me 😊.

Getting the visa

Since I come from a non-EU country, I had to apply for a visa to get a EU Blue Card, which is a work and residence permit. Getting the paperwork done for the visa was easier than I expected. During this process, I got support from Serena, as wel as Elisa, the HR Manager. My visa was approved at the German Embassy one week after the interview.

First days at the company

I had a nice welcome on my first day at work. That week, we had the ePages Hackathon. Thanks to this event, it was possible to meet the colleagues from Jena and Barcelona. During the first weeks, there were a couple of meetings organized to give the new employees an overview about the role of the team at ePages. This way, we understand what everyone does, what technologies they use, and what projects they are working on.

My team

I’m part of the Team 42, along with Unai and German, the developers from Spain. We mainly work with Ruby, Ruby on Rails, and also JavaScript. We have the daily meetings at 09:15 with Timo, our Product Owner, and Elisa (another Elisa!), our Scrum Master.

Getting the paperwork done

Parallel to work, I had to take care of some German documents needed, such as the address registration, bank account, and health insurance. All that went fine. Once I got everything ready, I requested the Blue Card at the immigration office. The only thing I can complain about is that I had to go very early… at 7 a.m!

The hardest part

Finding an apartment in Hamburg takes a lot of work and time. I’m currently living in a temporary apartment that was provided by ePages. Hopefully I’ll find a place to stay soon.

About the author

Kathia Salazar is a Software Developer with open attitude when it comes to programming languages and frameworks.