by: Batyrbek Alymkulov, Theresa Herrmann, Talgat Mustafin
As you know, we have students from 33 different countries in our MPP class this year. Most of them came to Germany for the first time. So probably the adaptation period for them is still going on. It is interesting to know what Germany looks like from their eyes. We collected some of their first impressions in Germany. Let’s see what was different or unusual for them when they arrived in Erfurt.
From Mumbai to Erfurt
Akshay came from the most populous city in India and the fourth most populous city in the world, Mumbai (population 20.5 million). He said that in the first night (Sunday) when he arrived in Erfurt (population 200,000), he was shocked that there were no people on the streets of the city. He told me that he has worked in a company in Mumbai and he usually worked until midnight and even then the streets of Mumbai were crowded. He is used to walking on crowded streets, so the empty streets of Erfurt on a Sunday night were a surprise.
Nopeño, studied in the Netherlands before coming to Erfurt. I asked him what is different in Germany for him. He said he has been wondering why strangers on the street in Germany do not say “hello” when they pass by. Even though people don’t know each other, he is used to people greeting each other and saying “hello”, especially if they live in the same building. But here he has realized that this is not common in Germany.
Germany – Wonderland
Uktam, a student from Uzbekistan, said “when I first arrived in Germany, I was impressed with how everything is organized and supervised in an orderly fashion. And also Mother Nature mesmerized me and made me feel like I am in some wonderland. On top of that, I’d like to mention the operation of the public transport. I think it’s one of the best I’ve ever seen in my life. As you can see, my feelings about Germany are positive, and I’m expecting to find out more.”
Back to Germany
Theresa is from Germany but she studied in the Netherlands for the past few years. So, while in cultural and administrative terms, the past few weeks were certainly less overwhelming for her, she is still adapting to the German university system. Her first impression of the courses and lecturers is a positive and motivating one. Student life in Germany seems to be structured less by fraternity-like student associations. Another difference is the family-friendly policies of the university, whereas at Dutch universities you can hardly find kindergartens.
Nora is German, so she knows pretty well what Germany is about. What surprised her most are her new classmates. She described them as “a group of immensely friendly, open-minded, interesting and inspiring people.” Nora claims there is already a quite intimate atmosphere among students, with lots of activities going on in the evenings or on the weekends. She is sure that the feeling of being part a group will help us all to feel at home in Erfurt and to master future challenges in our studies together.
Talgat comes from Kazakhstan. Here’s what he thinks of Germany: “Forest! I have never seen so many trees in my life. My country is mostly comprised of steppes. I love the nature and soft climate of Germany. But what amazes me more is how we find a common language in such a diverse class as ours. No joke, you put 50 people from more than 30 countries with various backgrounds in one room – and it works! That’s the most unique feature of Willy Brandt School.”
You are safe in Germany
Farooq, a student from Pakistan said: “For me, coming out of a war affected region and studying in a safer environment was in itself a huge blessing. Then coming to Erfurt, a natural city, was a dream come true. Finally, the Brandt School was the icing on the cake as I realized how important and great it is to study alongside students of so many nationalities.”
As you see the first impressions of the students are quite different from each other. It will be interesting to ask the same people in one year to see how their impressions of the Brandt School and Erfurt (may or may not) have changed. Let’s see next year.