5 tips and tricks from someone who did it

On a cold-winter night in 2014, I landed in Europe for the first time. I came for a bachelor-exchange program to stay for 6 months. Later, I went on to do a Masters and a PhD under fully-funded scholarships in different EU countries. After finishing my studies, I also managed to land a postdoc here in the EU. Along the way, I made several mistakes and learned from those mistakes. Here are five tips that I will give you if you want to survive in Europe and keep getting scholarships (and jobs).

Do not go after PR

Many Pakistani students come here and forget about the career they have. Instead, their focus is on getting permanent residence in the EU. Eventually, some of them do get a PR but everything comes at a cost. Their career is compromised, and they have to work odd jobs their whole lives. In contrast, I focused on my career. Therefore, changing countries within the EU was not a problem for me. Of course, that means I do not have PR, but that’s the sacrifice I am willing to make.

Do not focus on rich countries only

Everyone wants to study and live in Germany. No doubt that it has many job opportunities but also high competition. Also, the living standards in Germany are not as good as in Mediterranean countries like Spain and Italy. People are social and happy. The food is good and the weather is nice. Yes, the salary won’t be as good as in Germany but no country is perfect. If you really like Germany or the US, go for it. But if you just want to live somewhere nicer, there are other options.

Money vs. career mindset

Some people want to earn money, and some want to achieve their dreams (and earn money). The difference is in the preference. If money is what you are after, you will end up doing odd jobs and earn that money. But this will happen at the cost of your career. In short term, it is good to earn some cash, but investing your time and energies in you career will get you much further. Learn more skills, work on some nice research projects or volunteer. All of them will help you much more than some odd job. If you really need the money to survive, try freelancing because that will increase your skills and knowledge. That’s what I did when I was unemployed. Learn more about how I survived my unemployment with freelancing..

Learn an EU language

Yes, we all want to live in English-speaking countries but so do the millions of other people who speak English. The result is high competition and no place for average students like me. If you learn an EU language, your chances of getting employed can sky-rocket in the EU. Not to mention how it will make your life easier and worth living here. Research shows that learning a new language is also very good for the brain so you will become more intelligent.

Integrate into the EU

How to learn a language and culture of a country? The easier option is to enroll yourself in a language course but the best solution is to integrate yourself into society. Hang out with the locals and enjoy life. The famous proverb goes; when in Rome, do as the Romans do. Practice your language but also show your interest in their country. There is nothing wrong with being patriotic but sometimes we become too obsessed with our country and only want to talk about Pakistan. Show some interest in the country where you are living also. If Pakistan is perfect, there is no need to come here.

Here you go. Hope these tips help you enjoy your stay in the EU. Let me know what you think and if I missed something.

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