Voluntary Ecological Year (FÖJ) in Germany

Voluntary Ecological Year (FÖJ) in Germany

By Hamria | Gaining Momentum | 27 Dec 2021


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Do you enjoy working in the garden or on the fields? Can´t you get enough pictures of green hills and forests in Germany? Do you keep sending links to animal videos to your friends all the time? Yes? If that´t you, maybe you should consider a Voluntary Ecological Year (FÖJ).  

The programme is very similar to the Voluntary Social Year. You spend 12 months helping in exchange for some pocket money (usually up to 400 euro) and full health insurance. The additional benefits are very often free or very cheap accommodation and board. Once you can proove that you have a place to stay in Germany and pocket money to get yourself the basics you need, there is no problem to get a visa.  

I have to admit, there were many various reasons I got interested in the Voluntary Ecological Year. Probably the most important one was my pretty poor German. There was no way I could imagine having to talk to Germans all the time and I just hoped that in the agriculture there will be no need to do so, someone will explain to me what is there to do and I will be working on my own. The other very important reason was the fact that you usually stay on the farm, so one doesn´t need to worry if the Foreigner Office believes the pocket money in the contract will be sufficient for my expenses in Germany, as accommodation and board are already provided. I started to apply simultaneously for both: the Voluntary Social and the Volunatry Ecological Year. 

There are many websites offering help to everyone interested, just put "Freiwilliges Ökologisches Jahr" oder "FÖJ" in your searching engine. I had a bit different strategy. Even before getting interested in voluntary years I have registered at WWOOF (WorldWide Opportunities on Organic Farms) Deutschland. (wwoof.de). Yearly membership (25 euro) gives you an access to hundreds addresses of ecological farms in Germany. You will always find an indication, if a given farm hosts the FÖJ volunteers. Not all of them do as it means additional paperwork for the hosts which sometimes do not have idea or time to deal with such things. However, many of them do and you can contact the farms directly. 

I have sent a few emails telling a few words about myself and my plans and all of the people I have contacted responded very quickly. I even had one job interview on the phone with the owner of a horse farm in the Lawer Saxony, which rather discouraged me as my German was so bad back then that I wasn´t able to understand anything she was saying and as in the meantime I got accepted for the voluntary social year, I have just stopped fighting for the ecological year. However, I am sure, sooner or later I would have a contract with an ecological farm in my pocket to apply for a visa. The better your German, the higher the chance, so don´t waste your time, learn German, if you are serious about going there and you need a visa.  

Don´t hesitate to contact me if you have any questions related FÖJ, FSJ, visas or life in Germany in general. Also if you need help with your CV or application letter and have nobody to check your German. I will be happy to help as much as I can. Good luck!

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Hamria
Hamria

I am sharing my personal experience and what I have learnt while applying for visas, looking for jobs, trying to improve the language and living and working in Germany.


Gaining Momentum
Gaining Momentum

A blog for all who live outside EU and wonder about legal ways to move to Germany. I am sharing my personal experience and what I have learnt while applying for visas, looking for jobs, trying to improve the language and living and working in Germany.

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