Today marks five years since I moved to Hamburg, Germany on September 16th, 2016. I’ve lived in Hamburg longer than in any other cities except for my hometown where I spent the first 18 years of my life. A lot has happened in the last 5 years. I’ve gone through things I didn’t imagine I would when I arrived in Hamburg. I haven’t done certain things I thought I would. I feel like now is a good time to quickly look back, specifically from a career perspective.

In 2016, when I started thinking about moving to Germany, and even after I actually moved to Hamburg, I had no idea how my life here would be. I had just got my master’s and had little to no savings. I was thrilled, excited, and scared all at the same time.

When I arrived at the Hamburg Airport after 30+ hours since I left Japan, and saw my soon-to-be colleagues who kindly came to pick me up, I was extremely relieved. It might sound silly, but until that moment, I had a slight suspicion in the back of my mind that no one was going to show up and I would be stranded in northern Germany.

The first couple of months was mostly about figuring out how to survive — not literally though, as I could easily find supermarkets and Dönner shops and had just enough money to cover the essentials, but at a little higher level like how the society works, and what to do and not to in certain situations.

When I started the job at my then-employer etventure, I honestly felt I didn’t have nearly as much knowledge and experience as any of my colleagues. Although I learned a lot since then and was able to keep up with the daily work, I never felt like I was cut out to be a good software developer. And I still don’t, to be honest. When one of the colleagues who picked me up from the airport was leaving the company, I told him that I wasn’t sure if I could ever be a skilled developer like him, to which he said “Of course you can”. I didn’t believe him and thought he was just being nice.

After 3 years, I started working for Lokalportal. It was both fun and challenging to work with skilled colleagues and I loved it. Unfortunately, the pandemic hit the company hard and I became unemployed after a year, May 2020. It was nerve-wracking, although I had just got the unlimited residence permit, to be a jobless foreigner.

And now I’m a senior software developer at Europe’s leading InsureTech company, shaping the future of insurance, guiding less experienced colleagues just like myself 5 years ago, interviewing people, none of which I would have imagined back then.

I’m less scared now, but also less thrilled and excited. But I do have an opportunity and tools so to speak, to make my life thrilling and exciting, again.