My name is Madhuri, I am 25 years old and I originally come from Bengaluru, south of India. I came to Germany to do my Master’s in Molecular Life Science at the University of Jena. I am in Freiburg now to work on my Master’s thesis. This was the first time I stepped out of my home city, my home country and it was the first flight I ever took. Generally, back in India many families want their kids to go to the USA or the UK for education. I guess it is due the lack of the language barrier. To be honest, it is too expensive and I found that even Germany was a good place for pursuing your education, especially in the field of biology.
What were the initial difficulties?
I actually never faced any difficulties of any sort. Perhaps, the only difficult part for me was the way examinations are conducted in Germany. You never know what to expect and (laughing –ed.) another difficult thing was to wake up early during winter.
How does it feel to be an Indian girl in Germany?
It does not feel any different. It has been a really great experience for me. I feel home away from home! I call Germany my second home. When I go back to India I miss it. I have discovered myself here; I have become a much stronger person.
I do feel 100 % integrated. The language definitely gave me a great push to feel myself even more integrated. It helps you interact with more people. Once you start observing the way people act and live in Germany: their daily activities, how they communicate, behave in certain situations… Once you start following it, you naturally become integrated into the German culture.
Has your lifestyle changed when you moved here?
Back in India, I lived with my parents, I did not have to cook everyday, clean, organize my things/daily schedules… I have to think how to organize everything now. I was very disorganized back at home ;-), now I can’t be anymore! I remember once at the beginning I had to wake up one morning at 5 a.m. and I ended up not sleeping the whole night because I was afraid to miss my alarm (laughing – ed.). Lots of sleepless nights just to make sure I do not fall asleep and miss my appointments.
What are the things that you like/dislike here?
The thing I like the most is the organization in everything: no waiting in lines, perfectly functioning transport system… everything actually works with a push of a button. Also, safety. Women can travel anywhere and at any time without any fear. It is something my parents also like about here.
I don’t like, however, that there is very little use of English, not everybody speaks and understands German. If all the systems were also in English, it would definitely be easier for an outsider to move around. Another small thing I do not like is that German people do not mingle with foreigners easily and soon enough.
Have you learnt more about India while living abroad?
I have learnt how my country is perceived abroad. India, in general, is recognized as a financially poor country, where people eat lots of spices. The movie “Slumdog millionaire” is perceived as a portrait of India, I still don’t know why ;-). A rich cultural heritage and modernity equivalent to any global city- that’s the perfect blend one can find in India. Also some Germans think of us as geniuses in mathematics, which I am not!!!
What’s the first thing you’d do when you go back to India?
The first thing that comes to mind is food (laughing –ed.). I miss the street food like hell. So yes I’d say food and shopping!
Could you summarize your experience in Germany so far?
A journey of self discovery, amazing scientific learning, freedom and a very positive experience!