Why do foreigners like our culture
Refugees in GermanyAdmiration and culture shock
"We want time, your attention, so take your time and be receptive, and we are breaking new ground."
"I never thought I'd end up in Germany. I just wanted to get out of Afghanistan with my family and be somewhere safe. The people I've met so far are really nice, and I've never met any people that I somehow get the impression that I've ended up in the wrong country. "
Zaki Khaliqi, 21 years old, lives in Cologne, is training as a media designer in the field of graphics, has lived in Germany for four years.
Together with 18 other refugees, Zaki talks about their experiences in Germany and how they perceive us Germans. Most have only been here for a few weeks and months, some for many years.
What they have experienced and are experiencing is touching, wondrous, and sometimes also unflattering for the Germans. Her impressions sometimes reveal deep social abysses, but also a previously unimagined openness and a lot of commitment. The refugees hold up a mirror to us.
With families and many children in one container
Sabah Alsabahawy, a trader from Iraq, has been in Germany for three months, currently lives in Bornheim near Bonn:
"I really wanted to come here. I feel good. The only thing - I live in a container with families with lots of children, and I'm already 64, which is difficult for me."
Farah, 22 years old, was just able to complete her bachelor's degree in "Banking and Finance" in Syria, and has been in Germany for a month, currently in Siegen.
"When I arrived it was like a dream, I didn't know what brought me here, I was afraid to get too close, I didn't know how people would react to me, everything was strange to me."
Ali Ahmad Nouri, 23 years old, had a clothing store in Afghanistan; he has been living in Germany with his wife and child for two months, currently in Siegen:
"I noticed that some Afghan refugees had been sent back and that it should now be a safe country. Some asylum applications were not recognized, that concerns me a lot and it would be very bad if we had to go back."
Warm and compassionate people
Farah: "I was on my nerves, stressed, and under pressure. I didn't live like that in Syria. Everything was different, uncomfortable - how I sleep, my bed, the room that I have to share with strangers, somehow all depressing. But then I realized what kind of warm-hearted people take care of me. I hope that we are not separated again now - there are a lot of compassionate people here - not with us, where so many people die every day and there is nobody I am so happy and I hope God will let me be with these good people. "
Maleka, 27 years old, Syrian pharmacist, has been living in Bornheim with her younger sister for two months:
"Our landlord gave us towels and a vacuum cleaner - and even curtains. We have windows facing the street. We wear a headscarf, so he hung up the curtains to protect us."
Hussam, 30 years old, engineer from Syria, in Bornheim for three months:
"What strikes me is the discipline, for example in the accommodation, the logistics, the order, the registration, the transfer, everything is organized, and if someone is sick, an ambulance comes and the person is taken to the hospital and cared for."
Punctuality - a huge shock
Manuel, 27 years old, fled Angola alone as a minor 12 years ago, lives in Bonn:
"Punctuality is considered very high, and there is no exception where you think, ok, everywhere or in every system there is always an exception, but that was really a huge shock. When it is 9:00 o'clock, you have to it will also be exactly 9:00 a.m., a few minutes earlier than a few minutes later. "
"I've heard that people are always on time, but if I want a doctor's appointment, they say they come in a month or two. In Syria you call the doctor and you can have an examination the next day. Here it takes time far too long, "says Yahya Almahamid, 62 years old, a pilot in the Syrian military, in Germany for eleven months, currently in Bonn.
Amina, in her 40s, from Morocco, has been in Germany for over 20 years, speaks four languages, lives in Bornheim:
"A housewife who doesn't go to work has a calendar, and if you ask her, maybe we could have coffee, we're already standing in front of the door and have been chatting for 20 minutes, so we can have coffee and. No, we first look at the calendar: Ok, I can't, I can't, yes, we can do that next month, Monday at 3:00 pm And then, next month, you'll find half an hour of coffee drinking. That was very surprising , spontaneous doesn't work at all. "
Ali Sos, 31 years old, lawyer from Damascus, has been in Cologne for a year:
"When they work honestly from 8:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. or until 5:00 p.m., everyone works, not like in my home country, a little work, a little talk, a little fun, no, here there is time for work and time for fun, I like that also."
Too much paperwork
Slava, 25 years old, Syrian Kurdish woman from Aleppo, has been in Germany for 17 months, was a hairdresser, mother of three children, lives in Bonn:
"What really gets on my mind here are the visits to the authorities. No matter what you do and do, whether you go to kindergarten, no matter where you go, you only get documents, documents, documents. Always, always, always paper comes , that's not good."
Fadi, 35 years old, Syrian math teacher, in Bonn for 14 months:
"If your neighbor bothers you, you can call the police. You have the right to have your neighbor not disturb you, but it was difficult with us. There are more boundaries here, privacy."
Zaki Khaliqi: "They are direct, they just say what they think. When you go to a restaurant, you have to pay your own money, but in Afghanistan it's completely different.
"The food - not a good experience so far - sweet and sour, I don't understand, is that dessert with chicken now? A culture shock, nobody ate it," says Maleka.
"They are nature-friendly, and they also love to go into nature and enjoy the weather, the trees or the wilderness," says Zaki Khaliqi.
Garbage can in the forest - impressive
"In Germany, in the forest, where there is nobody, I find a garbage can where the cigarettes come in is impressive," says Shaker Alabeid, 43 years old, a Syrian doctor, who has been in Bornheim for 16 months.
Maleka: "When I ask for directions in English on the street, people understand me, but answer in German, that's not much help."
Hussam: "When I started learning German, I thought, oh my God, what did I do to myself."
Fate, 47 years old, Syrian Kurd, fled 23 years ago, runs a snack bar with her husband in Bornheim:
"Yes, yes, kütt, yes, that's what my girlfriend says. I don't understand this Low German anyway, I've tried to learn. I really open my ears, but I still don't understand."
"Yes, Helene Fischer, great. Helene Fischer."
Zaki Khaliqi: "I know Helene Fischer, she sings quite well. I mean, when you hear typical Kölsch music or Bavarian music, it's totally weird for me. I don't know."
Eyad Al Soulaiman, 21 years old, Syrian mechatronics technician, in Bonn for 8 months:
"I also heard other songs, for example" it goes off ", but I also forgot the name of the singer, there is also, for example," go get some beer ", I also heard. So our neighbors always try to teach us something typically German, yes, and I think that will work out over time. "
Carnival and Halloween - Germans are crazy
"What I found really funny before was Carnival or Halloween. At first I thought, yes, the Germans are crazy, well, but what I thought later was not important whether it looks funny or not, the main thing is that it does Fun, "says Zaki Khaliqi.
Fate: "When I do something, I would like to have a meaning for it, for example New Year's Eve, there is a new year. Christmas is the birth of Jesus, is beautiful everywhere, the lights, the Christmas decorations, Christmas markets. But carnival means to me nothing, so far I haven't found any meaning for carnival. This endless drinking of alcohol without end, I don't think that's good at all. "
"What can shock an Arab man - the subject of homosexuals and marriages of the same sex, does not exist here. It's taboo in our society, but you can see it a lot in Germany," says Fadi.
Eyad Al Soulaiman: "Our neighbor says, well I have five cats, that's enough, I don't need children, for example you wouldn't see that here. So it's very sad to say that, but some animals in Germany live better than some people in Syria. "
"Germans talk to their children as if they were adults, they talk and discuss properly with them," says Sabah Alsabahawy.
Sakie Ghasemi, 24 years old, Afghan Christian, with husband and daughter currently in Siegen:
"I want freedom, especially freedom as a woman. In the two months since I've been here, I've felt it so much that it has a major impact on my well-being, and I want to stay here."
Respect for women
"In Afghanistan they say when women go somewhere with their husbands, what do you do here as a woman, according to the motto: We don't need you, and here it is completely different. I should be there everywhere, I am asked first and as greeted first, that's how I know I am respected. "
"I wish that every woman in Afghanistan can experience what I experience here."
Chancellor Angela Merkel: "We can do it. I can say that because it is part of our country's identity to achieve great things."
"Of course I think Ms. Merkel is very, very good. She gives us life," says Ali Sos.
Jeanette Malu, in her 40s, from Kinshasa / Congo, 4 children, has lived in Bonn for 12 years:
"I think that Ms. Merkel could be a role model for African women. She shows how you can emancipate yourself as a woman and take responsibility for your country. She does her job well."
"I think it is wrong that Ms. Merkel opens the door for everyone. If the doors stay that wide open, billions of refugees will come to Germany," said Shaker Alabeid.
Jeanette Malu: "I can see that the Germans are now doing a lot for the refugees, taking care of them, but I regret that the difficulties of those who have been here for a long time have not yet been resolved on many issues. That is a big one Problem."
"The Africans were not treated so well"
"The refugees from Africa who came across the sea last year were not welcomed in Germany at all, unlike the Syrian refugees. The Africans were not treated so well."
"Last year, for example, many children from Africa perished while fleeing across the sea. It was only when a Syrian boy drowned a few months ago that the Germans showed great sympathy. At that time, nothing was said about the African children on television."
Fate: "In our times, for example, when I ran on the street with my child, I heard many times: 'Fuck foreigners', so we weren't so welcome. When I talk to the new refugees now, I say, are satisfied and always say, thank God, because you are now very, very lucky, in our times we were just unlucky. "
It is difficult for newly arrived refugees living in emergency accommodation to find out more about Germany. Either there is no television or they don't understand the news.
Therefore, many use the internet. You are primarily interested in German politics when it comes to refugees, integration and xenophobia. Anyone who is here longer will have their own experiences.
Ali Sos: "I've heard this word Pegida and they don't like foreigners, but in Cologne I haven't heard about this topic."
Manuel: "People from the Rhineland, like here in Bonn and Cologne, are a bit more open than elsewhere. I've also experienced cities where you really ask yourself, ok, I'd rather look at my cell phone, googlemap or something like that to ask anyone outside. "
Not welcome everywhere
Fate: "We were on the road, and then my neighbor said, watch out, don't go into Dresden, you won't be welcome. We stayed with a family, the next day we saw the tires from my car, they were all broken. I was really scared - going to Dresden with black hair. Then I made my hair blonde, I didn't want to make my hair black anymore. "
Manuel: "Of course we also have white people from the country where I come from, Angola, but the shock was mostly when you sit on the bus, ok, I'm the only black person in here now."
"In the industry where I am now as a seller, it is really a bit difficult to be accepted, to be looked at first, ok, can he do anything at all, can he handle it at all. I personally have had the experience, Even after completing your training, you always have to knock on a door five times more until this door opens, until you even get a chance to prove yourself. "
Amina: "There are circles in the small villages. The mothers, they already know each other from school and work, and it is very difficult to get into these circles as foreigners."
"This mentality from the foreigners, maybe adopt it a little, it will somehow - it cool, a little lightness, work less, live more."
"Not all the help in the world is with money, but many people just maybe need friends. How can they integrate with Germans if they don't know Germans? Contact is most important," says Eyad Al Soulaiman.
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