I will never forget my first time in Germany … after studying for five years in a German class, I was finally facing the reality of the biggest country in the European Union. My teacher taught me two things: First – ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS come punctual for your meetings with Germans and be on time. And second – NEVER EVER FORGET TO SAY “Danke” and answer “Bitte” after almost every sentence. Those two things are something quite unusual for the Bulgarians, like me, because we don’t mind to be late with 5-10-15 Minutes, when we are meeting someone and we are not very popular for our politeness.
So imagine the shock I experienced, when I wasn’t allowed to enter a classroom, during my German language course in Hamburg, because I came five minutes later … I tried to realise, what I did wrong, but I couldn’t, so thankfully there was somebody who explained to me, that this is one of the things, that is not tolerated by anybody in any situation in Germany. So even issues like “My alarm didn’t go off today.”, or “The subway broke down and I had to wait for the next one.”, or “I was waiting for the toaster to bake my bread perfectly.” – are not excused. After living in Berlin for some time, I learned to plan my day with 10-15 minutes to spare daily. No matter how well the schedule of the German public transport is planned, there is always a chance, that something is going to go wrong and sometimes – without even an explanation. Other times it happens, that you will forget your wallet and therefore the card for the public transport, but for example I don’t panic, because I have my 15 minutes to spare and don’t get a panic attack. And even if everything goes by plan – I arrive 15 Minutes earlier at my destination and have some time to drink a coffee or just relax from the stressful trip in the city of Berlin.
The same goes with politeness – no matter what I hear or people ask me to do, I always end my sentences with “Danke” and “Bitte”, because I know that this is very important for them, even though in my home land is not. This is how I am showing my respect for their culture and the land I came to work in, because by the end of the day – it is my choice to be here and try to blend with the people and their mentality. The longer I am living here, the less I am noticing this small German habits, that used to make me nervous and stressed, but now are just a part of who I am and how I am. That is why it’s easier for me to explain to the students, that come to Berlink, how they can integrate easier and faster in the society and get used to their work placements. Sometimes a lot of things schock them, but this is why they will never forget their first time working and living in Germany.
Polina Spartyanova – Student Welfare Officer –