As an engineer, Alberto Caballero Breva can work internationally. The only problem the 27-year-old had at the beginning was the language.
January 16, 2014: His friends back in Spain are still waiting to find jobs that have a future. Alberto Caballero Breva (27) came to Germany after graduating. He now works for dSPACE, a company in Paderborn. He had to leave his friends and family behind to start a new life in Paderborn. In the meantime, he has gotten to know the town well, and has his favorite places where he relaxes after work.
By WIEBKE KALLÄNE (newsroom at "Die Glocke", Oelde, Germany)
Alberto Caballero Breva pauses to think of the right words for what he wants to say. But not for long. "It's not, as you say in Germany, just around the corner," the Spaniard says, laughing at the expression. He's talking about his new job. Which is at dSPACE in Paderborn. The 27-year-old went to university in Spain, his native country. He traveled a long way to take up permanent employment as an engineer in Paderborn.
Now he's standing by the source of the River Pader, gazing at the greenery of the park. The light is fading, the sun is going down behind the trees. The wind tugs at his jacket. "I have a direct view of the cathedral from the flat I share," says the Spaniard, pointing to a house near the river. He likes the old town of Paderborn with its historical buildings – only he can't yet quite get used to the weather. It's much colder and more changeable than in Spain.
His native country has more than 50 per cent unemployment among young people. "In the summer, my friends take temporary jobs in the tourist industry," he says. They mostly still live at home with their parents because they don't have a regular income. They're glad of three months' work in the summer, but in winter, there's usually nothing for them. "Their future is uncertain," says Alberto Caballero Breva in a serious tone of voice. Then his expression changes: "Whenever they start envying me, I tell them: Then come to Germany too."
Alberto Caballero Breva crosses the large square in front of Paderborn's town hall, passing coffee shops on the way. He likes sitting there with friends, though at weekends it's difficult to get a table, because this is where a lot of students meet. Every now and then there are Spanish students among them. But they usually only stay for a couple of months, so making friends isn't easy, he says.
To start life in Germany, he had support from friends who he got to know in Holland while he was a student. They also helped him find somewhere to live. He usually leaves his car at home. He prefers walking to work through the Paderborn town center and does his shopping on foot. Though the stores don't really interest the engineer. "I buy what I need," he says, quickly glancing at the window displays. He takes a brief rest in the cathedral. He finds it very restful there. "I don't know why it is that I can relax here. But it just does me good being here, if I've had a stressful time."
He's already mastered the German language and gets along well with his colleagues. Alberto Caballero Breva (left) regularly enjoys a chat on dSPACE's corporate campus in Paderborn. The graduate engineer from Spain also makes friends at the regular pub evening with international colleagues.
A Lot of Coffee, a Lot of Kilometers
The cathedral door swings shut behind him. Outside, the wind is still strong. Alberto Caballero Breva goes into a café to warm himself up. He orders a latte macchiato – he drinks coffee several times a day. The Germans drink more tea, he thinks.
Alberto Caballero Breva was 17 when he left his home town to study engineering. Then he did an internship in Holland. "The atmosphere there was very good. I realized that I could do it – I could work abroad," the 27-year-old says. After that, he actively looked for other openings outside of Spain. A Spanish employment agency suggested he should attend a career fair in Madrid. That's not exactly just around the corner from Sevilla, as the engineer would put it in German. It's a distance of 530 kilometers. He had to pay for the journey himself. He went despite this.
He misses his family. But nowadays it's easy to keep in touch, for example, via the Internet, he says. "I think I talk to them more now than I did while I was a student. There weren't so many ways of communicating as there are now, like Skype for instance." He drinks some coffee and looks at the clock. His German class begins in half an hour, just opposite where he works. It's now started raining.
The biggest difficulty for Alberto Caballero Breva was the language. "I couldn't speak a word of German when I first came to Paderborn," he says. He regularly attends language lessons outside working hours. Contact with colleagues also helps him learn the language. When he first started work, he got by with English. At dSPACE, he programs the hardware for machines and equipment.
From his flat, Alberto Caballero Breva can see the source of the River Pader in the center of Paderborn.
Fighting for a Future
Paderborn company dSPACE regularly takes part in career fairs abroad to look for qualified people. "Young engineers in Spain are fighting for their future," says its head of marketing, Bernd Schäfers-Maiwald. Several dSPACE employees fly abroad several times a year to talk to them. In Madrid they met Alberto Caballero Breva. "In Spain, you have to be proactive, or you can wait a long time for a good profession," says the 27-year-old.
A lot of young Spaniards go to the career fair in the hope of receiving an attractive offer. Alberto Caballero Breva got one from dSPACE and once more set out on his travels – this time taking a plane to Germany to get to know the Paderborn company better. That was almost two years ago now.
He found it a help that the Germans have a similar attitude to the Spanish. "Our thinking is very similar. That's why I've had hardly any difficulties," he says. "But you have to bring an open mind to your new country".