My name is Tihana, I come from Serbia and I’m a linguist, a blogger and a writer. I’m also finishing my grad school in linguistics this summer. My favorite activities include reading, traveling, devouring blogs, chatting with my friends and drinking coffee. I’m a huge fan of coffee! Last but not least, I’m looking for a way to turn my writing into a more than a hobby. Keep your fingers crossed! 🙂
What brought you to Germany?
Studies. I got a scholarship for grad school, and it has actually included studying at three different universities, in Finland, the Netherlands and Germany! Pretty awesome, huh? Finland was my first country I’ve lived in, other than my own, and I love it dearly; but I’ve spent the majority of time in Germany and if I had to choose where to end up out of the three, it would be Germany.
What was the biggest struggle when you moved?
On one hand, I could say that the moving was smooth, because I had the majority set out for me: the scholarship, the studies, accommodation, insurance… so I didn’t have to go crazy house- or job-hunting. But of course, moving countries can be and in most cases is challenging. I’d say my biggest worry was stepping into the unknown. After two years and moving three countries, I can call myself a pro. 🙂
What is it that you like/dislike about your life in Germany?
Firstly, I must say that so far there are a lot more things I like! Recycling. The variety of healthy food, vegan and vegetarian choices. General attitude about wellness. The fact that people smile back in the street, that they generally mind their own business, are very tolerant and… flirt in the public transport! 🙂 Speaking of dislikes… well, Germans have this trait of following orders blindly, or at least it seems blindly to me. Sometimes it’s not really needed to follow a certain rule, yet they insist on it. For example, I had to hand in a proof that I’m a student in this semester in order to secure a stay in my room in a student dorm. I had no access to this document at the moment, so I sent in a different document, signed and sealed by my university professor, that says basically the same: that I am a student for the time being. But that was not enough, simply because it was a bit different, although it provided exactly the same information. Things like this drive me nuts.
Any funny, cross-cultural moment? 😉
Well, not really funny, but where I come from people are a bit more laid-back regarding time and schedules. If, say, a friend and I agree to meet at a particular time, it’s fine to text you’re being 15 minutes late – when the person is already supposed to be there. Most of the times nobody gets mad! Especially if you’re late at parties, everyone is always late – in fact, a host would most probably still be in his underwear if you showed up on time! That attitude cost me some embarrassments. People here like being on time, and are not as tolerant in this regard as we are back home.
Do you think Germany is a multicultural country?
Yes, I do! I live and spend most of my time in Berlin, and that is definitely one of the most multicultural cities I have ever been to. Berlin is a home to many young expats, the start-up scene is blooming, it’s a relatively cheap city and it offers a lot for everyone – these facts alone are reasons enough to take the plunge and move to Berlin. I also have friends in the south and west, and I know that, apart from local friends, they have wide circles of international friends, so it seems that it’s easy start a life here and have a sort of a support group that’s been through everything you will be going through.
Do you feel integrated?
Before answering this question, I must emphasize that from the beginning I’d known I was staying here for a limited period of time – a short one – it’s as if I had my own expiration date in Germany. That’s why I haven’t taken as much effort in integrating as I would have had I known this was a permanent move. Another thing that I lack is the German language skill – my German is basic and while I can get away with it at a store or a bar, having a discussion is challenging. But I have been moving towards integration: I try to speak German, try to meet Germans (more often than not their circles are rather closed), enjoy local food, and, well, live as a German. The stupidest thing would be acting exactly as I do at home – because I could have just stayed at home instead.
Has any of the stereotypes been confirmed about Germans?
Yes – about their punctuality, obviously! But there’s also this common opinion that they’re cold and reserved. Young people I’ve met are quite kind!
What is it that still strikes you here?
Lack of liquid yoghurt. I’ve drunk yoghurt my whole life. Here it’s mostly eaten.
Anything else you wish to add?
If you like traveling, you should definitely consider living in Germany. It’s well connected with neighboring countries via buses and trains, and offers amazing airplane deals to almost all of the major European cities! I appreciated this especially because only a few low-cost carriers fly from Serbia, so traveling from home usually meant saving a lot of money beforehand. Living in Germany allows you to go to weekend trips all the time!