Crossing Continents: The International Column
For the first installment of International Column, we’ve got a little something special for you. Nadine, a master student of Sustainability, Society and Environment Studies from Cape Town, South Africa, has been studying in Germany since 2022. During her time here, she has written and designed a book collecting stories, pictures and experiences of others who are in the same boat as her.
In it, she and her fellow internationals talk about the whys and hows of their studies in Germany. They reflect on cultural differences, challenges and German idiosyncrasies. The end-result is a charming culmination of mixed-media entries, painting a humorous and at times introspective picture of Germany and German uni-life from many different perspectives.
There was an overarching feeling of calmness as I finally hopped off two planes, a train and a bus. I dreamt big. And here I stood on the top of my self-proclaimed hill of efforts it took to get me here, feeling enormously proud of what I had done. That feeling soon took a backseat as I was hit by the realities of the people here, the Deutsche Bahn and the German bureaucratic system, all the things that weren’t so clear to me before.
The days, weeks, months went on and my time became filled with adventure, new experiences, connecting with new people and cultures, oh and that thing called university. To be honest, uni had been really fun too and this was purely due to the flexible and open nature of the study program. Classmates became friends, professors were suspiciously cool and the underlying theme of all work was to “do what you want” or to “work on something that interests you,” which sounds like an ideal situation, and it is, but can be frustratingly crippling when you don’t know what you want to do, how you want to do it and find every damn thing so interesting.
As I spent my time in conversation and sharing life with others, one thing was for certain, we never failed to air our grievances and positive moments we had been experiencing. Internationals. Our world looked completely different from what we knew and we found comfort in talking about that.
Surely we can’t be the only ones who do this. Is it just us? Are we that different? [Ausländer!] Or is it the Germans and their country who are strange and somewhat otherworldly? This was the spark that led me to lay before you “Deutschland Chronicles”.
For now, Nadine’s book is not available for sale. If you’re interested in reading it though, you can contact her via Instagram @nadine_vland and she has agreed to share the digital version with anyone who is interested.