Waleo learned the hard way so you don't have to
After growing up in Nigeria and living for some time in Indonesia and Switzerland, Waleo is now a bright light in the expats-in-Germany community. She’s not only sharing her everyday experiences online – which often feature her meeting up with other content creators or trying out new restaurants and bars (definitely up my alley) – she also loves traveling and sharing those experiences. But that’s not all. In addition to her day job in Tech, she is a Relocation Coach for people interested in studying or working in Germany. And when she’s not doing ALLL of that, you can find her filming videos for her Youtube channel!
What initially brought you to Germany? And is it why you’re still here?
After spending a couple of years in Indonesia, it was time to move on to the next adventure and I couldn’t think of anywhere more exciting than Germany! Well … not really sure on the excitement part though. Anyway, after leaving Indonesia, I wanted to return to the university for a Master degree program. I chose Germany because I had already visited a couple of times and a Master degree is much cheaper in Germany than my dream destination: Australia! So here I am 3 years and a Master degree later still living here.
What do you love most about living in Berlin/Germany?
Ah Berlin! Disclaimer Alert: I have a love-hate relationship with Berlin. But since you asked what I love about living in Berlin, I’ll tell you: the variety of events available in Berlin is unlike anywhere else in Germany. Berlin has something for everyone, no matter the type of events and activities you are interested in. One thing you will definitely not be bored! Another thing I love about Berlin is the diversity, you walk on the street for 10 minutes and you can hear 10 different languages. So many people from different parts of the world! I love it! And the food options! OH LAWD, you can get food from so many different countries! I even found the best Indonesian Restaurant in Germany right here in Berlin and yes the taste is very authentic. Alright, I’m gonna stop here because if I go on, I can no longer claim to have a love-hate relationship with Berlin: this is beginning to sound like an Ode to Berlin.
Let’s talk about your German language-learning journey. How did you start, how has the process been, how do you feel about your abilities now, etc.
Fortunately for me, I already learnt German up to B1 level and passed my B1 exam before moving to Germany. Unfortunately for me, passing the exam and speaking the language are 2 different things. I enrolled for a B2 course when I arrived to keep learning. But I have since found out that the best way for me to learn is simply watch German movies with German subtitles and speak as much as I can to native speakers. My current level is B2 with lots of grammatical errors while sober and C1 after 2 glasses of wine!
Do you have any favorite German word(s) or expression(s)? Why do you like it?
My favorite German expression would have to be “Ach so!” There is no expression that captures the received enlightenment that this expression embodies. Every time I hear it or use it, I feel like “Oh wow, the origin of the universe has just been explained!”
You have visited over 40 countries and lived in quite a few as well. Based on those experiences, what is one big pro and one big con of living in Germany?
Hmmmmm … big pro of living in Germany would have to be the safety levels for me. Germany as a country is relatively safer than some of the countries that I have lived in. especially as a woman. I can come home late at night without living in terror of being attacked. This for me is priceless.
A big con would be the lack of digitization in Germany and the archaic mode of operating many of the government offices like the citizens office and foreigners office (Bürgeramt and Ausländerbehörde). These people still operate like we live in the 1950s and not 2021. The paperwork is insane.
In addition to your day job, you also offer services as a relocation coach. Can you talk a bit about what relocation coaching entails and what inspired you to start doing this?
I coach non-EU nationals who want to move to Germany either to study or to work. Moving to Germany can be a daunting process especially for those who have never lived abroad before. I already lived in various countries and the process was complicated and confusing even for me. The coaching is a 5 week coaching program where I help people identify their relocation goals, map out the best route to moving to Germany that is aligned to these relocation goals, provide guidance on the application process in Germany and an action plan to ensure they achieve these goals as soon as they arrive in Germany. So I cover an end to end process: before arriving in Germany, getting to Germany and what to do after arriving in Germany. I launched this service because I was getting a lot of emails from viewers of my YouTube Channel who wanted to move to Germany but had no idea where to start.
You also have a YouTube channel where you make videos on German culture shocks, everyday experiences, dating life, city differences, and much much more. (Seriously, I have no idea how you’re juggling all of this 😁. ) What makes you a fan of this platform versus, for example, your website or other social media channels?
The secret of doing it all is having no kids! No, I’m kidding *wink*
To answer the question: I LOVE YouTube. It’s my favorite social media platform of all time. I have learnt so many skills and gained so much knowledge from YouTube over the years. It’s amazing to me the wealth of knowledge available on this platform: from learning how to code, to video editing to graphic design all the way to making your very own German black forest cake! I Started my own YouTube Channel because when I was moving to Indonesia, I was searching online to read or watch the experiences of black women in this country and I could not find any. I wanted to know what everyday life is really like as a black woman in Indonesia and there was nothing. So I decided to talk about my experience so that other black women going to Indonesia can find this video that I was never able to find.
My Instagram on the other hand is where I feel people get to know me on a more personal level, I share short-form tips on moving to Germany as well as what everyday life in Germany is like.
On your website you mention that you have had to ‘redefine yourself many times’ throughout the years. Can you go into a bit more detail about what you mean by this and how it has helped you in your coaching service?
Every country I have moved to, I moved without a job, had to pivot and change careers. Before moving to Germany, I had worked for many years in the engineering industry as well as the e-commerce industry. Upon getting to Germany, I realized very quickly that I could not work in Germany because contrary to popular conception, B1 level is not good enough to work in. Also breaking into the German labor market can be quite tough: In my first 6 months in Germany, I couldn’t even get a waitressing job (despite me having a graduate degree, many years of work experience within the industries I mentioned earlier and B1 German). I talked more about this experience and the end result in this video on YouTube. In the end, I had drop all my preconceptions about my skills and qualifications and take the first job that came my way (which was at a retail store, sorting clothes tried on by my customers). Eventually, I pivoted and found my way into Tech … you have to watch this video for the full story. I’m a talker not a writer This is why in my coaching program I also teach my students steps to take to ensure that they secure a job as soon as they arrive in Germany. It took me 6 months to learn the hard way.
Do you have any words of advice for people who may be scared of this ‘redefining who they are’ aspect of moving abroad, or may be currently at this point in their life?
The key is identifying your WHY and WHAT: Before you move, delve deep and clarify why you want to move abroad and what goal you want to achieve with this move. Make sure you identify this before moving because knowing your WHY and WHAT will keep you going when it gets tough, lonely and discouraging. Because it will surely get tough before it gets better.
Finally, in your opinion, what makes you a Power Frau?
I’m a Power Frau because I made my childhood dream of living and working abroad come true. I speak 5 languages , work my dream job in Tech and I’m building my YouTube passion into a sustainable business.