STUDIUM & FREIZEIT
I was about 10 years old when I left my small Bavarian village to live in a suburb of Paris, France. The change was drastic, sometimes hard. But I quickly grew to love my newly found home.
There are several reasons I came back to Germany. Living in Paris included renting a 8m² room with moldy walls, and paying exuberant amounts of money for it, all whilst sharing a place with 3 other people. Everything, including food, was so expensive that I constantly had to worry about money. “Enough!” I said, applied for an Erasmus year in Germany, and packed my bags.
Coming here, I was excited for the seemingly better life that the Ruhrpott could offer me, as well as the opportunity to reconnect with the country I had spent my childhood in. Like the Prodigal Son, I returned home empty-handed, ready for easier times. But coming back after being gone for so long sure was odd.
Good old habits
There are things I have to get used to again. One is waiting at redlights. I cannot help but getting frustrated when I’m stood on one side of the street for 5 minutes without a single car passing by. I dislike waiting at lights, but I don’t see anything wrong with waiting a bit for people as long as their tardiness stays within reason. Germans might disagree with you! While I would often get upset at my friends in France for letting me wait 30 minutes, sometimes an hour, it is not easy for me to feel genuinely bad if I am 5 minutes late for a meeting.
Since I speak without an accent, people don’t immediately know I’m not all that German. Which makes it even more confusing when any cultural reference past the 1900’s completely goes over my head. You’d be surprised how people react when I announce that I have no idea who Helene Fischer is. This has proven to be a challenge in regular conversations. I don’t know the names of most politicians, places, or social movements. It keeps me from weighing in on a conversation I would have usually had a strong opinion about.
The politics are quite different too. The French tend to have a fiery approach to change, either refusing it altogether or pushing it forcefully. Now it is strange to be in a place without ongoing strikes. Trains that actually drive? What?!
Having grown up in a small village in the Bavarian countryside, I am now getting to know different, less conservative sides of Germany. Turns out, not every german school makes you pray in the morning.
I still miss Paris dearly on most days. I miss the pastry, the fashion, the beautiful architecture. But not just the good sides, the bad sides, too. With tender feelings I think back to the numerous rats in the metro, the urine-imprinted smell of latter, and the rudeness of the French, as well as their stubborness.
But even if I think that wearing crocs and cargo shorts should be a punishable crime, I am glad to be here.