How have the first few weeks in Germany been for new DAAD scholarship holders? We asked four graduate students – Diana Herrera Leon, Edral Pratam, Nisa Shalizad Butt and Ando Razafindrazaka. In Part I, they spoke about their first impressions. In Part II, the four scholarship holders talk about what surprised them most about Germany. They also shared some tips and pointers for future scholarship holders.
Diana Herrera Leon, Edral Pratam and Nisa Shalizad Butt
What do you miss most from home?
“The food. Germans don’t like it spicy!” (Nisa)
“The food!” (Ando)
“My one-year-old daughter and my wife.” (Edral)
“My family, my friends, the food and the warm El Salvadoran weather. But fall in Germany, with its colourful trees and leaves in the streets, is really beautiful.”(Diana)
What has surprised you most about Germany?
“You don’t have wi-fi access everywhere, I thought there was going to be an Internet connection in every corner, I had to wait almost a week to get my username and password and connect via WLAN. Also, the restrictions and rules for downloading anything from the Internet were surprising.” (Diana)
“The library is open Monday through Sunday, from eight in the morning until two at night. I was fascinated by that. That means I can work even on weekends!” (Edral)
“I find it strange that instructors are treated the same as students. In Pakistan, we treat our teachers with the utmost respect and never use their first names. But that’s what the instructors want here. It’s really unusual.” (Nisa)
“I really did not expect the Germans to be so nice and helpful.” (Ando)
“I was taken aback by how independently people go about things here. In Asia, people are used to doing everything together – it’s different here.” (Nisa)
What are you still trying to get used to?
“Working independently. This makes things a bit harder for me. I come from a completely different educational system – I am used to working together with others. People like to work alone here. I have to learn to hold my own.” (Nisa)
“The punctuality.” (Ando)
“All the rules. It get’s tiring after a while.”(Nisa)
“The weather. I make sure to check the weather forecast every day to make sure I wear the right clothes! I never do that back home.” (Diana)
“That there’s no spicy food.” (Nisa)
“The climate – especially now that it’s wintertime!” (Edral)
“Making sure everything is within my budget – like finding the cheapest place to make copies.” (Diana)
What tips do you have for other scholarship holders?
“I definitely recommend that they learn German before they arrive! Once you are here, it’s hard to find time for language courses.”(Diana)
“Learn German! It really, really helps!” (Edral)
“One has to be prepared to enter an absolutely foreign world – it’s a great experience, but it can be hard, too. Learn to keep it simple and be clear! It’s also important to be independent. And start looking for a place to live the very first day you arrive!” (Nisa)
“You should start learning the language the minute you begin planning your scholarship stay.” (Ando)
“And always remember to check the weather forecast!” (Diana)