Hello. My name is Iryna and I am from Ukraine, from Kiev to be exact. I have been living in Berlin since almost two years. I am an international student at the HU Berlin and I am majoring in computer sciences… hopefully in one year I’ll finish it.

Why Germany?

Actually, 5 years ago I didn’t even think about the possibility to go abroad for studies. But one day a little bird 😉 told my mother that someone’s son had been studying in Germany and the study was free of charge! I do not come from a very rich family (may be for Ukraine we are not so poor, but comparing us with Germany…). The expression “free of charge” was a sound argument simply because for us to pay fees for education, even small, would be very difficult. Of course, my parents support me now financially, and it is not so easy, not to mention the fact if there were college fees. It is, I would say, the main reason of me being here. Secondly, I have researched that qualification certificates from Germany are recognised all over the world. In addition, the quality of education is higher than in my country.

How do you like it here?

Overall, very good. I really like that I have decided to come here and I really enjoy what I am studying here..

Are Germans too different from the people in your country?

It depends on whom you are comparing with. If you compare Germans, for example, with Chinese, there will be a bigger difference than between Germans and Ukrainians. I think, there are some distinctions between us, but not so noticeable. I don’t know… It is hard to explain…it depends on a person, whom you are dealing with. However, Germans are perhaps a little bit reserved and not so emotional as we are, and more rational, but I appreciate this quality.

What do you think about multicultural society in German? Does it really exist?

Oh.. it is a hard question. But definitely, comparing to Kiev, there are more ethnicities here. And I think of it as an advantage. I can practically be integrated in every culture I want and learn every language I am eager to know. For example, in Kiev I didn’t have many opportunities to speak English or German. And in Berlin it doesn’t matter, what language you are interested in, you can always find a native speaker, whom you can brush up speaking skills with. And another very important point, thanks to this multicultural society I do not feel an alien here 😉

Have you come across some problems in Berlin due to multiculturalism?

Well…not really. But I dare make one comment. I guess, cultural or religious gap between different groups in the society is very wide, only willingness to find a compromise could help, otherwise I assume it could cause tensions and/or conflicts …I am not sure if all Germans and especially immigrants who are coming here understand that their lifestyle would probably change. I have not been here for so long to make any conclusion about it…. Concerning me, I am not so comfortable with women, who cover their faces completely. It doesn’t mean that I am against their religious beliefs, but I just feel uneasy not be able to identify a person who is in front of me…

Have you ever been discriminated here?

No, I haven’t. I spend almost all my time at the university or at home doing my homework. I hardly go out. It might be the reason why I haven’t experienced cases of discrimination. But what I have noticed while leaving in Germany is that more educated people tend to be also more open-minded, tolerant and maybe understanding towards others.

Is there anything you don’t you like here?

Hmm… Maybe it sounds funny and it is not a great issue to talk about, but I don’t understand, why Germans hardly eat whole grains?  😉 Only noodles, white rice and maybe porridge. To buy  various grains like buckwheat etc. I need to go to the Russian store, it would be easier to be able to get them in an ordinary German supermarket.

Could you name some problems that German society should start resolving first, in your opinion?

Actually I am really impressed by how tolerant Germans are about foreigners, like me ;-). However there is an issue that has been bothering me lately. I am wondering WHY Ukrainian refugees were not taken in as Syrians are?! We were at war with bombings, shootings and so on and so forth… As a result, many citizens became homeless or much worse handicapped, they lost everything. Many tried to apply for a refugee status here, but the requests were rejected! I can’t stop wondering what the reason for that could possibly be! As for me, it just barely makes any sense. It seems like there are different standards based on political or/and economic gains, not on humanitarian grounds, which is extremely unfortunate. This is the problem the German society should try to resolve: if you are tolerant, please, be tolerant to everyone, and not only to selected groups…

By Masha

Multicoolty collaborator in Berlin
I'm a faithful wife, a social worker, a passionate writer, a casual smoker, Janis Joplin Fan, a beer drinker, a classical literature avid reader and #dontcarewhatuthinkaboutme!