A Singaporean in Dresden, Germany

It’s perfectly amazing how people can adapt to new environments quickly.

No doubt, there is always the first barrier to go through, that of homesickness, especially if you are one to have your own family. I do not have kids, so that makes it easier for me to overcome this first obstacle that comes together in a package for those who want to uproot.

I have been here for about 5 days now, staying and learning about German with people from all over the world – Italy, Japan, Syria, Hungary, Israel (unexcitingly, there wasn’t any Palestinians here), China (what’s new?), Kazakhstan, South Africa – you name it. Two interesting perspectives arose while I was on my way to the Goethe Institute.

1. Loneliness is not the biggest problem:

It is trying to stay together with others, and the accommodation and forgiveness that must come with it. I was so used to leading a ‘primitive’ life in a world of my own that this posed as one of the biggest challenges for me. Before the stay at the family house, I had enjoyed the luxury of staying in the hotel room all by myself, having my own television, switching on some of the lamps when I sleep, going to the toilet as often as I want to… etc. But now that I am staying in the family house, I have to make sure that the relationship with everyone else stays cordial, and everything that I do, I do it with others in mind. If I could choose now, I would still have preferred to stay by myself in the guest house, in my own room, regardless of whether there is a private bath or not. But because I do not have a choice, I will have to learn to live with, and among others. What surprises me, then, is that I am able to do so after all.

2. Learning brings people together:

It has always been a dream of mine to be able to experience life in a multicultural, multinational environment. Here in Goethe Institute, everyone comes from everywhere else. So far, I have not met any Singaporeans, which is not surprising if we remember how small our motherland is. During yesterday’s presentation, we had to present to others something about our own country. It is highly obvious that everyone was proud of their homeland, but that some of them were willing to come to terms with various conflicts occuring in their country without any impending sense of defensive threat was an enlightening experience for me. The fact is, people who are willing to learn – people who are educated – understand that learning is not a privilege enthroned to a few lucky crème de la crème. And so most of these people are willing to discard their most defensive self to attain a more rewarding experience and outcome – knowledge.

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