Bridging the gap…

von Darshit Pandya.

As of April 2019, more than 83 million people live in Germany. Did you know that out of all these people, only 76.4% are native Germans? The rest of them have immigrated either from EU countries or other parts of the world. Did you know that the United Nations Population Fund lists Germany as host to thethird-highest number of international migrants worldwide? More than 16 million people are descendants of immigrants. I am here to talk about them. I am here to talk about us.

Hi, my name is Darshit, and I have been in Rostock for over 30 months now. The city (or Germany as a whole) has given me so much more than just unpredictable weather conditions since my arrival. It has given me the opportunity to understand people, comprehend them culturally, their behavior, their understanding of certain things and ideas. It helped me bridge the gap…

As much as we as individuals, as a community, society, or country, try to be independent of each other, in reality, we are all interdependent. This article will not be a regular anthropology section of the magazine, I promise you. This is only an attempt to give you an insight into the lives of international students in Rostock. As Rostock is a university city, it is host to a large number of abroad students. It is a good mix of people. We have ERASMUS students, people coming from outside the EU, from South East Asia, the Indian subcontinent, Russia, Africa, etc. We all move here, we move our lives here. You may have seen us before, how we are continually trying to find people who understand our broken Deutsch.

Along with the memories of our loved ones back home, and our volition to work, study and party hard, we bring a little more. We bring our culture, values, traditions, tastes and our thoughts with us. With everything we bring along, Germany welcomes us with nothing but open arms, great people and fantastic beer. We will take you on our journey, our first impressions of Germany and the Germans. We will introduce our culture to the readers and show them our most honest side, because a deeper mutual understanding only brings us closer.

It is a journey of individuals who come here with the hope of a better future and work harder than ever before. It is a story of people trying to blend in with the new culture, trying to find new friends who can help them understand the German cases (which you guys are great at, by the way). It is a tale of people who want to introduce you to their culture by inviting you for a chai. It is an attempt by Ausländer to make some deutsche Freunde.

We live in an era of political correctness in which the world is more liberal than ever before. Almost everyone tries to prove that we are the same and nothing differentiates us. However, the truth is that we are different, and we can do nothing but accept and acknowledge it. We differ in the way we speak, dress and behave. Our understanding of right and wrong is different, as are our beliefs, taste in music, food and parties. The way we grow up distinguishes. We have all been exposed to a different environment, influenced by changing situations and circumstances. Again, there is nothing anyone can do about it. We simply have to accept it. Only if we understand and acknowledge these little differences can we bridge the gap, and only then, can we get a little closer to each other.

I have lived here for almost three years now. I have been exposed to all kinds of people. Still, the people who have stayed with me and left a lasting impression, have either tried to get to know me better and understand my culture, or they appreciated me because I wanted to get to know them better. I have found that you guys (Germans) are one of the most honest people on this planet, and I absolutely love it. In a world where makeover tutorials have tens of millions of views, it is refreshing to have an honest bunch of people who talk to you straight up, without sugar-coating anything. Indeed, it was difficult to adjust at first, to understand the intentions behind the brutal honesty, but with patience we can adapt to change, and that is exactly what I have done.

I come from India, a land of spices and curries, a country where many people thought that adding a little milk and other condiments would make black tea more refreshing. In my country, more tea/chai equals more conversation. Chai is just an excuse to have more conversation. We have a culture of hospitality, and maybe we overdo it sometimes. But to finish this article, I would like to ask you to have a cup of chai and a conversation with me, about me and my culture, so that we can get to know each other better and bridge the gap!

Sources:

  • Bundeszentrale für politische Bildung: „Die soziale Situation in Deutschland: Bevölkerung mit Migrationshintergrund I
  • https://www.mytravelaffairs.com/sri-lanka-interesting-facts/

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