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What do I think about Germany? Cold people, funny language, and punctual freaks! Inside of Europe it is so common to have prejudice against each other. I did backpacking travel in several European contries six monthes two years ago, mainly concentrated to Southern European countries. It was my first travel experience so that I feel like these countries as my second home. Amazing weather, beautiful Nature, rich cultural heritage, and warm hearted people. While traveling I was able to meet so many new people. In southern European countries, even if you are traveling alone, you can’t be alone more than one hour. People will notoce you are new in town, start to talk to you, and you will have new friends. There is even a joke about this intimacy of souther European culture, “In Spain you will make your wierd best friend in one night.” I was never alone in my travel and still I have many of very good friends from this region.

And last year I lived in Germany for a year to study and work. The first time I told my southern European friends that I will move in to Germany, their reaction was “Uhhhh…. Why?, Cold weather, cold people, funny language!” They scared me enough with their horrible stories with german people or gloomy all over exchange student experience in Germany. For example my dear Portuguese friend did exchange student program in Dresden, small eastsouthern city in Germany, and she was never able to settle down this city, crying and missing her hometown in entire six monthes. I hope you will not get her wrong, she is a very open and international person just as much as CISV people, her family has run pension for international people ever since she was a kid. It is true that the social system in Germany is admirable but people there are just so much cold for Portuguese or southern european people.
Except for that I almost never heard positive opinion about Germany from European friends.

Now you can imagine how much I was scared when I first arrive in Germany. I thought it would some scary, cold, and dark world. A year in Germany taught me sometimes there is a good reason on prejudice but in the same time how easy prejudice itself can be broken. I can say, yes german people have much longer social distance than southern european people. You can’t be sudden friend with germen after a drinking night nor every second stranger would say hello, have a nice day to you like Spain. However german people are extremely curious about foriegners, especially asians. They just don’t feel comfortable with starting conversation with strangers. Here comes the ways to go conflict (prejudice) and peace (breaking prejudice). If you don’t realize that german people’s social distance is just longer than the other culture but not cold hearted folk, there is a chance that you will keep negative prejudice against German. But if you step forward reminding your CISV german friends and remembering how equally nice people your friends were in this magical camp, you will find how nice and helpful german people are. I always smiled at strangers who were interested in me but didn’t dare to talk with me. It turned out if you break the first wall, german friends will be one of the most loyal and reliable friends in your life. I appreciated again my CISV camp which made me go through prejudice.

All over the world there are lots of prejudices against each other because of different religion, colour, or long history as neighbors. And it is so easy to see new people with common prejudice since many times the prejudice seems right. You are German, you must be cold, You are spanish you must be lazy. But if you have lived with your friends from everywhere through for four weeks in CISC Camp, it would be easier to release your prejudice. Because you will know they are not different from you. Because you will see them as individual rather than religious cover or ethinic cover. You will have moment why they behave in that way, understand it and will start to mingle with them. I think this is one of the most precious lecture from CISV.