by Vu Tra My Nguyen
Translated by Herbert Meck
Germany was a “foreign country” for me, a foreign country and that’s all. I have never lived in any other country except Vietnam. Nevertheless, I had no particular expectations before entering Germany, because I wanted to let everything come to me. In my opinion, this is the only way to experience something new to the fullest and with an open heart. That is not wrong at all. Every second, every minute, every hour, every day I learn something new in Germany. Germany fills my youth, and teaches me to be an adult. My decision to go to Germany and study here is a turning point in my life. It is just like that, neither bad nor nice, but it makes me the person I am today.
I remember the first day in Germany. I was so excited to see what new things I would see and find out that I decided to go for a walk by myself nearby. Since I had already had quite a bit of experience traveling, I thought that no problem could arise at all. But no. I got lost. After a long walk in the middle of the forest near the Isar river, I found a “flea market” in the middle of a club. There were many houses and the “flea market” was in a very dark, dirty, messy and “creepy” house with only one room where there was only one old lonely man with a big beard. I was very scared and ran away very quickly. However, I then did not know how to get home. Fortunately, an old but cool motorcyclist, also with a lot of beard, and an old very sweet artist asked me what I was doing and showed me the way home by bus, although I didn’t know where I lived either. I learnt a long time after that day that there is a meeting place for pensioners and retirees.
Since I am a positive person, I don’t get annoyed by anything that happens. And since I study humanities and social sciences, I really appreciate the time here, because the knowledge, especially about art, history and psychology is taken very seriously here, which I feel is a big difference from my home country. The time in the preparatory college taught me to “feel” art and to “experience” history. Time and I are transient, but I am here to form my own history – at the same time I am here as one of the witnesses of this transient time of Munich. Munich and I both grow up, both change and develop. Now, I am proud to say that I know Munich better than many Munich people among my friends. And I also always tell my Vietnamese friends, “Munich is now my second hometown”.
Despite all these positive developments, I am still not used to being on time. As our teacher in the preparatory college used to tell us, “Punctuality is a foreign word for you”. After two years, I still can’t change in that regard. Maybe it would be better to live with it?
As a foreigner, I have also experienced a few intercultural misunderstandings here in Germany. However, since Germany is very international and many people from all over the world live here, I have personally experienced these misunderstandings not with people born in Germany, but with people from other cultural backgrounds. There have been situations where I have been annoyed or cried. Nevertheless, I don’t see it as something negative. After every experience you learn something new, and you realise how to deal with it. The world is complicated, but it is always beautiful, in one way or another.
As a final word, I thank you for the time spent in Germany so far. Everything is an experience, everything is beautiful, and everything educates me.