Change by Exchange – DAAD’s motto is not only a motto

It is a reality.

I have had this post in my mind since I started the blog. The title was ready in the very first day of my blogging. I just needed more time to think how to build this story…

I am always proudly using my “sponsor” bag, as I call DAAD. But it is not only about money – it is more about opportunities which are opened thanks to this money. 

I had never been in Germany before. The day when We (me and my Husband) packed our things to our old car, and moved for 9 months to Bremen, was our very first time in Germany. I even hadn’t met “my Professor” before, we just had exchanged a few emails. 29th of September 2015 was the first day when we saw each other. And I remember this moment perfectly.

I moved out from my “comfort zone” from day to day. Fortunately in the end the effect was as in this cartoon 😉

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Source: http://theawkwardyeti.com/

To be frank – my “comfort zone” wasn’t comfortable at all, so maybe it would be better to call it “known zone” 😉 In Bremen everything was unknown including language, people, culture… One of my first days at the University of Bremen, walking to the office, I thought – “I że ja niby tak mam teraz codziennie przez 9 miesięcy chodzić tym samym chodnikiem do pracy?! Kto w ogóle wymyślił, że ja mam tu przyjechać?!” (“So, I supposedly have to walk every day to my office, the same footpath, for the next 9 months?! Whose was the idea, to come here?!”). Of course it was my idea, but applying for the scholarship I wasn’t aware of all consequences…

My life changed dramatically – I started working in the office every day (I had my own office – it was wonderful 😀 in Poland I work at my home). I started meeting people every day (really, there are other people than my Husband and my Friends on the Earth). I started to be a part of the research group of “My Professor” (Till that moment I had never felt a part of any group).

To be honest – I had very long, painful, difficult adaptation process. I started to feel like “Bremen is my home” after 5 months of being there. It was maybe even more difficult because I travelled to Poland every 6 weeks (because of health reasons), and coming back to Bremen was painful every time, and I needed to adapt over and over again. What was good – after few travels to Poland my readaptation process shorten from 2 weeks to 2 days 😉 Thanks to this experiences I improved my skills to adapt to new situations. I am less in panic and more open, and more sure that I can manage with things even if they come unexpected.

I also learned a lot about relations with people. First of all – that people who we love and who love us stay in our lives no matter how far we are. As my Friends in Poland and my Friends in Bremen, and one Friend who I met in Bremen, and now she is back in Mexico. I met in Bremen wonderful people who became my Friends, and this is the most important value of this scholarship and any other scholarships in general. Secondly, I understood that there exists something like “work relations” – people who you meet every day at your workplace, who you like in some way, but any of you don’t need to share private life, and problems. It was my first serious “workplace” experience and I think that it is useful to get know that such kind of relations exist. Thirdly, relations with students – I had learned that they are “adult people” and it is up to them what they do, so I can just share knowledge and experience, merely enough and so much, and I cannot expect that all of them  will be extremely interested and engaged in courses 😉 Finally, accidentally met people on workshops, DAAD scholarship holders meetings, summer schools, conferences etc. – each person has something to share with the World. We should stop to be afraid to talk with new met people – they are just people as we, and probably they are afraid as we 😉 so let’s just start talking with your peers, and get to know about their projects, experiences, culture, languages, life… Sometimes it will end on this one talk, sometimes it will end on friendship, sometimes it will end on professional relations, sometimes it will end on Internet chat time to time – you never know what is in the end. What we know for sure – even one talk can change our lives, open our minds, show different perspective, and enrich us 😀

Last but not least, I could confront stereotypes about Germans with a reality (ok, small part of German reality)

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Source: http://9gag.com/

What I found true – they are effective, efficient and well-organised, at least at work, and at least in West Germany. And I like it, and I think that for me it was very enriching experience to work there 🙂 and sometimes we envy Germans that they are so well-organised 😛 They are also some kind “on distance” for foreigners, especially when you are not German-speaking, and they need more time to let you closer. And of course – bureaucracy is enormous in Germany, you just need to get used to it 🙂 and fill all this endless forms 😛

What I found to be just a stereotype – they aren’t so punctual as we think 😉 and don’t believe that German trains are on time, just forget about that 😛 And there exist smiling Germans, they are not serious all the time 🙂 they also aren’t so strict, they are more flexible than I was thinking 🙂  

Edit (04.12.1016)

I learned one more meaningful lesson during my stay in Germany – to be a part of a society you need to know a language of your new society. I went to Germany with very very basic knowledge of German. In the beginning my attitude towards learning German wasn’t enthusiastic 😛 I was scared enough with all changes in my life, that I even didn’t want to learn. When I met one of my Friend in January, he showed me how many interesting things go on at the Uni – I couldn’t know about them, because all posters and leaflets were in German. Thanks to him I went for example for concerts organised at the University Bremen. I also couldn’t participate in other forms of culture – I couldn’t go to a theatre, to a cinema, watch TV (ok in Poland I don’t watch TV at all, but it is also a way to get know a culture), read newspapers, talk with people there… I felt isolated, but it was my own fault. When I was leaving Germany, my attitude towards German had changed already – I was more willing to learn it. When I visited my Professor and my Friends in September, I was more open for German, and I was even trying to understand something. 

My conclusions are similar as this presented by John McWhorter in his talk 4 reasons to learn a new language:

Useful links:

https://www.daad.de/en/ – Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst (DAAD) website

http://www.uni-bremen.de/en.html – University of Bremen website

https://www.ted.com/ – TED website

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1 Comment

  1. Akezali Martínez

    So sweet and wise thoughts! <3 Transportation in Germany isn't as punctual as everybody says hahahahaha TRUE!

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