9000 kilometres away
Yao, 26, is an IT trainee at ING in the Netherlands. She has been working in Germany since April. What really brought her from China via Amsterdam to Germany and why are eating and communicating a real challenge?
“My hometown is around 9000 kilometres away from Frankfurt”, Yao says. Last year she moved to Amsterdam to her boyfriend and started an IT traineeship at ING in October. Yao originally comes from the north of China, where her parents and her brother live. She is a data engineer. In her first stint as an “information architect”, she supported the Open Metadata and Governance project with external partners. This project ensures that the data resources are transparently assessed, governed and used in order to deliver maximum value to the enterprise.
Yao speaks almost perfect English. “My Dutch boyfriend taught me to speak without an accent”, she laughs. Even though she has started learning German, English is the common language in the International Advanced Analytics Team, which she is working for in Frankfurt until September.
Love knows no (country) borders
Yao graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Xiamen, China. “The weather there is so good that a lot of Dutch students choose Xiamen for their half-year exchange. That’s where I met my boyfriend in my last Bachelor semester”, she says. By this time, however, she had already been accepted for her master studies in software engineering in Beijing. From then on, Yao travelled every few months between the Chinese capital and the Netherlands to visit her boyfriend.
As a Chinese person, she had to get used to many things in Europe in the beginning. The biggest challenge? “Definitely the food!” she says. “In China, we eat warm dishes at all times of the day. That was quite a change – suddenly eating only cold salads or sandwiches at noon.” In this respect, she likes Germany and ING-DiBa with their lavish lunch offer better than Amsterdam.
Reading between the lines
Apart from the food, Yao noted other differences between the three countries in which she has lived so far. She spent the first weeks in Germany mainly observing everyday life. “The way people bring in ideas is very different”, she says. While there is lots of discussion and weighing of arguments in China, Dutch people are pretty direct and open, which she likes. In her experience, however, this is a real challenge for Germans from time to time.
“In Amsterdam, people tend to spend Monday mornings chatting about the weekend and their free time over a cup of coffee. Here in Frankfurt, more serious issues are typically discussed”, Yao reports. While Yao experiences Dutch people as more relaxed and flexible, she sees Germans becoming the stereotypical bureaucrat from time to time – for example, when something has to be done according to a certain pattern, simply because it has always been done that way. “The new way of working, speaking up and try to do things in another way is kind of difficult”, she says.
“A real challenge for me is paying in cash,” the native of China says. Compared to China, where all kinds of payment processes run via apps, Germany appears to her like the Stone Age: “In China, you can use contactless payment for your lunch at any street vendor, simply by scanning a QR code!”