My name is Melani and I have been living in Germany for already 5 years. I’m from Quito, Ecuador. I came here for my master’s studies at the University of Freiburg, and after obtaining my degree I married my long-time German boyfriend. Now we live and work in the big Frankfurt area. We would like to stay here for a while. We dream of moving to Ecuador or another country, but we welcome changes as they come.
What I like about Germany: I really like the fact that Germans do take rules and punctuality seriously (even if sometimes they tend to exaggerate). What I also like from Germany is their political system, with a strong intertwined control between the executive and the legislative to avoid power abuse. I really like that they have a quite good and successful Green Party, and an engaged civil society on sustainability problems and solutions. And on other less political matters, I love the fact that women are not “socially pushed” to wear high heels and be ultra-fashionable. It seems to me that women here do have more social freedom to dress as they want… Practical comfy lifestyles instead of painful high-heels-fashion!
What I dislike about Germany: Sometimes it seems that Germans love to see and sell themselves as world champions in ________ (fill in the blank with whatever comes to your mind). Even my husband acknowledges this as a crazy German thing! I also dislike the huge amounts of butter in food, and the fact that the majority seems to prefer industrial pre-cooked food over fresh food (just take a look at what people put in their shopping carts in any supermarket).
Have you experienced any cases of racism/discrimination?
I haven’t encountered terrible discrimination situations myself, but I know people that have. I think the most important thing is to get to know the person beyond the nationality, no matter where you are… Discrimination can happen anywhere, not just in Germany.
What habits from your home country have you lost and what habits have you gained?
Gained: Punctuality: I was already an alien-like-punctual person back in Quito, and now I sometimes get more annoyed than Germans if a bus or a train doesn’t arrive on time.
Lost: I guess I have lost a bit of that looseness and uncomplicated mood of the average Latin American.
What does nationality mean to you?
As a multicultural family we have now a kind of love-hate relationship with the idea of “Nationality”. To us it means belonging to a certain country or nation, to its history and cultural richness, no matter where you physically are. But it also means being tagged through certain stereotypes and prejudices, even if you see or feel yourself differently. And many times it means visas-bureaucracy. Nevertheless, for us being a multicultural family means most of the time living as Global Citizens, taking the best out of our nationalities!
Do you think Germany is a multicultural society?
Germany is definitely a multicoolty society. You just go to the downtown of any big city and will hear many languages, see many cultures living together. It might not be completely tolerant, but which country is? I really like this country and feel it like my second home.
What is typically German?
Typical German: the Butterbrot, the Döner Kebap, the German Angst, the tons of Haribo Gummibärchen, the Bretzel, eating only cake+coffee for lunch on weekends, being oh so silent in buses or trains, being amazing at giving heartful and well thought-through gifts to family and friends, etc.!
What do u think about stereotypes? Have any of them been confirmed about Germany and Germans?
Stereotypes are terrible, but everybody in every country grabs to stereotypes when getting to know new people. Our motto as a family is to always get to know the person and story behind the nationality or stereotype. Ultimately: Menschen sind keine Socken, die man in Schubladen sortiert (People are not socks to sort them in drawers – ed.).