A Year Abroad
Swapping one culture for another is exciting – both for your private life and professionally. Many Bayer employees have the opportunity to do so. Mônica Serapião from Brazil is one of them who jumped at the chance of a thrilling adventure. She is spending a year in Germany.
One thing took Mônica Serapião by surprise – when she arrived in Cologne with her husband Roberto in December, she stepped off the plane into ice-cold winter. The Brazilian Bayer employee had prepared herself for just about everything except the freezing temperatures. “It was really cold,” the 39-year-old remembers with a laugh. “We went straight into the city and got ourselves winter coats – they were the first things we bought here.”
Mônica normally lives in Goiania, Brazil, where she works for Crop Science. “I’m a customer service representative and my job is to ensure that our customers’ expectations are fulfilled, from the moment we receive their order until we deliver the crop protection products to the farm or retailer.” This background was what brought her to Germany.
Mônica is one of around 975 employees at Bayer who are currently working at sites outside their home countries. These assignments last anything from several months to up to three years. “The personal and professional development of each individual is particularly important to us,” says Nera Selmanovic, team leader for Mobility Assignment Management at Bayer. “At the same time, it also enables us to support teams that are working on special projects and therefore have additional staffing needs, or where team members are missing due to illness or parental leave.”
For Mônica’s husband Roberto, there was never any doubt that he would accompany his wife – he even quit his job at a telecom company, where he had been working for the last few years. “It was too good an opportunity to pass up,” he explains. “We’re experiencing so many positive things in Europe, I don’t regret it!”
There was just one problem – what to do with Pretinha, Kika and Lola. The three dogs are like family members. “I could never have survived without them for a year. And we didn’t have anyone at home who could look after the dogs for so long,” Mônica says. Finally she found a company that transports pets across the world.
Since they arrived in Germany, Mônica and Roberto have been using every minute to gather new experiences. Learning German is one of their goals – especially for Roberto, who is fully immersed in his studies. They also take the opportunity to interact with local people at the gym, where both of them practice kickboxing. “It’s a great sport for the mind and body,” says Mônica.
The couple love their deep dive into the new culture. “I’m only experiencing positive differences between Brazil and Germany. I’m fascinated by how safe and well-organized the country is and how respectful people are. I admire their respect for the traffic rules, for women, for old people and also for animals. I’m incorporating many good aspects of their behavior into my personal life,” explains Mônica. “I hope I don’t forget all these things when we go back.”
There is only one thing they will definitely be leaving behind – there is simply no place for German winter coats in Brazil.