So, of all places…why Germany?
I get this question so often. Why Germany? Why not Australia or UK?
Why to a place where everything is so foreign? The language, the people, everything!!
Well, I just happen to stumble upon Germany by chance. I have always wanted to go abroad – for studies or for work. I was a lucky child to have traveled around the world since I was born. I have been to Vienna 7 times, so much so I bragged that it’s my second home. If Facebook was available back then, I will be updating my status ‘Oh yeah! Vienna, I’m coming – again!’ My family and I have lots of fond memories there and other parts of Europe, like Sweden and also Germany! The impression of Australia and UK were not very pleasant. We found Australia boring (alright, we were at Perth and Adelaide – not a place to go) and UK…let’s just say the English speaking countries did not appeal to me back then.
I have never thought that I will be learning a foreign language when I was younger. It all started when I picked up a few new words/ phrases and then my University introduced German as the first foreign language class. I decided to learn more! But I could hardly learn much, not that I can recall the words, phrases, etc….
After a few weeks, my German class ended. My degree came to an end…..I had to plan for the future. I had no plans. All I had in mind was that I would be a programmer. I only knew Accenture as THE company to work for because the office was in the Petronas Twin Towers. But before planning for the big thing, I decided to go for more holiday and enjoy myself before entering the real world. And then, I decided to learn German..to take it up ‘seriously’. Why? Because I thought it would be cool to know an European language.
Then why not Chinese? “Your Chinese language is not even fluent, why don’t learn your own language first?!”
Simple. Because I don’t want to! Call me ignorant if you wish to. I had just bad experiences with ‘Chinese educated’ peeps because the ‘English educated’ ones are deemed ‘silly’ for not knowning their ‘mother-tongue’. With the whole crap of ‘malay-is-not-important’ and ‘what-a-pity-cause-you-can’t-speak-proper-Chinese-language’, I decided to just stay away from the language. No offence and it’s not that I want to be a showoff to be different but those comments were insulting to me and it’s better to stay away. It’s good enough that I can speak (as I struggle) but what the heck, personal preference ok! Then again, I am totally open to the idea to learn it as I go along.
Anyway, back to the topic….I started seeking for German language classes online. My parents were confused and wondered why would I want to learn a language that I’ll never use. At the same time, my sister wanted to learn Korean (this hallyu wave – she is still drowned in the wave, btw). I made my parents agree to both our wishes. I started my German classes in January 2009. At the same time, I started to learn German online and made some German friends. I read more about Germany and began to feel more attached to the country.
It soon became apart of me. Classes in Goethe Institute was so much fun! It’s like learning your ABCs again. We sang kids songs, we learned how to greet and count till 100. It’s something we know but yet foreign.
When I attended interviews, I made it known that I was learning German and would like to leave on time for my German classes. When I got my first job, I made it known to everyone I was learning German. I attended all my classes, except once (had to thank my lovely coursemates for that). I remember walking in the rain along Jalan Tun Razak to class for 20 minutes with my laptop and books. I remember making all sorts of arrangement for my coursemate(s) to pick me up along the way (somewhere) to go for classes. For that, I sincerely thank them!!
During class, I read more about Germany. The culture, the history, the language (of course) and built many friendships. We all clicked pretty well even though we are of all age groups. It was simply wonderful. I continued my lessons and of course, many were questioning my actions.
‘Why German??? It’s not like she’s gonna use it!!‘
The irony was, during the course of my worklife in KL….I actually worked with people who speaks German. After 1.5 years of learning German, a colleague came up to me to say, ‘Actually Grace, it’s quite a good thing that you learn German because XXX and YYY are native German speakers‘. I just nodded. To me, even if I really do not get to use it daily….learning SOMETHING will never be a loss. People always learn to gain something tangible. Good enough that we do that for our Degree/ Masters. I didn’t see learning a language as a bad investment.
After 3 semesters of attending classes every Mondays and Thursdays from 5.30pm till 9pm, I didn’t continue my classes. Not that I didn’t want to but I couldn’t because we did not have enough people joining. It was then I felt like something missing. I really felt empty and kept telling people around me, I don’t feel right. Because…besides work, I was only committed to my German lessons.
I was strict with my expenses. No entertainment, no shopping, no outings..except for the yearly holiday. It was really work-sleep-work-class-sleep (repeats). Why? I had to pay for my classes and taxi fares (I had my family friend who is a taxi driver to pick me up because it wasn’t safe to travel using public transportation at night in KL). At the same time, I wanted to save every cent I could to pay for my masters in Germany. The plan was to quit my job after saving enough for a Masters in Germany.
I wanted it so badly – so badly, that I even learned the German National Anthem and even had little German flags in my room. I didn’t want to go to Australia, UK or US. The thought of it was just so……foreign. When I was ‘offered’ to go to UK, I was very reluctant to say ‘Yes‘ for the the fact that I do not know anything about UK. Germany and her language became apart of me and my life.
As I was learning the language, I met my boyfriend who happens to speak German. And it wasn’t the other way around – that it was because of my boyfriend and I decided to learn German! No doubt, he helped me a lot. Because without him, I wouldn’t think I would be typing this in my hotel room in Munich now – at least not that soon. It irks me so much when people think that I learned German BECAUSE of my boyfriend.
I wanted to be in a country whereby I will feel slightly different. I wanted the challenge. I wanted to experience it all because I am still young. Since I was learning German, it was only logical to want to live in Germany.
Is it wrong to choose Germany instead of the norms like US/ UK/ Australia/ New Zealand or even Japan/ Korea? And why not Germany?