Teacher interview: Robert is in India!

Our dear colleague Robert has been in India for a while now, teaching German, traveling and discovering India. So cool, right? We asked him a few questions about how the trip came about and how he is doing.

Transmitter: Robert, what are you doing in India? How did you come to do it?

Robert: I really wanted to live abroad again for a longer period of time. My almost three-year stay in Qingdao, China, was a long time ago. Actually, I didn’t expect to live in Berlin continuously for so long, but the pandemic severely limited mobility and opportunities to work abroad. When I traveled to India last year at the invitation of a friend without much enthusiasm, I was surprised by how much I liked the country. I was actually only there for a wedding and a birthday, but then quickly realized that I wanted to see more of the country. As a result, I simply searched Google Maps for language schools in my last stop, Bangalore. Finally, a job interview at a school came up before I went back. When I arrived back in Berlin, the official invitation from the school for the visa was already in my email inbox. But then it took another three months until my departure because the Indian consulate kept me waiting.

 I live in Bangalore, the third largest city in the country (after Delhi and Mumbai). It is located in southern India in the state of Karnataka. The state itself is on the coast, but unfortunately Bangalore is not. But one hour north of Bangalore there is a great highland with beautiful hiking trails and many monkeys. There are monkeys even in my centrally located district. I could watch them playing and grooming each other for hours. Every second human inhabitant of Bangalore is – it feels – a software engineer – Bangalore is considered the tech hub of India, the Silicon Valley of the nation. Olaf Scholz was therefore here a few weeks before my arrival to poach Indian programmers. To my regret, he promised them to lower the German requirements in return if they decide against USA/Canada/UK and for Germany…I hope the Indians will nevertheless continue to learn German of their own accord.

Transmitter: What do you like about India and what do you like to do there?

Robert: I like the diversity of nature, the colonial architectural heritage of the Victorian era (there’s not much pre-colonial here in the cities, apart from famous temples and the Taj) and the attitude of the people to everyday stress – chill and let chill is the highest civic duty here. Indian cuisine is of course also very diverse (although you have to be careful especially with street food).

Transmitter:  You teach in India and also in Berlin online and offline. Do you prefer online or face-to-face teaching?

Robert: I actually like the mix of online and face-to-face classes. I already liked that in Berlin: going to Transmitter for a one-on-one training, then home for an online course and back to school. You’re on the move a lot and can sit down in a café in between. In India, unfortunately, I currently only have 7 hours of classes – per week! Given the low wages, I couldn’t even pay the Indian rent (let alone the other running costs in Berlin). In this respect, it is good that I have a lot of – better paid – online lessons in Berlin. On the other hand, I spend a lot of time in front of the screen and on some days I don’t even get to know what the weather is like outside the door in Bangalore (but I do get to know about the weather in Berlin – through my students).

Transmitter: When will you be back? You are missing here at Transmitter.

Robert: I am actually torn between staying or going back to Berlin. In March, after the consulate’s positive decision, everything suddenly happened very quickly. I miss a lot of the things I like to do in Berlin, including the people, the language school, the cafés, the Landwehrkanal. On the other hand, I don’t think I’ve seen much of India yet, so I’m thinking about extending my visa. I haven’t come to a conclusion yet, but these days I’m leaning towards going back to Berlin in September after all. Let’s see how I think about it next week….

Transmitter: Thank you for the interview, Robert. We are now quite envious of your travels and of course look forward to seeing you back at Transmitter soon. But for now, enjoy India and send us a postcard!