Culture Shock

One African’s Uneasy Journey into German Life

ARCHIV - Eine Mitarbeiterin der Studenteninitiative "Crossborders" unterricht am 02.03.2015 in Germersheim (Rheinland-Pfalz) in der Universität Flüchtlingen in einem deutschen Sprachkurs. Foto: Uwe Anspach/dpa (zu dpa "Deutschkurse für Flüchtlinge: Es fehlt ein Gesamtkonzept" vom 27.03.2016) +++(c) dpa - Bildfunk+++
Mastering the German language and the country's many customs isn't easy for many migrants.
  • Why it matters

    Why it matters

    • One key challenge of the refugee crisis is how Germany and its 1 million-plus newcomers can reach a co-existence fruitful for everyone.
  • Facts


    • Learning the German language ranks among the most difficult challenges facing migrants, refugees and asylum seekers.
    • Many newcomers arrive without prior knowledge about Germany’s history, heritage and social practices.
    • Culture and integration centers can help ease the refugees’ transitions.
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Before coming to Germany in 2007, my knowledge of the country was limited to the history we were taught in high school in my native Zimbabwe. Because of my grades, I was fortunate to be part of a group of students in an upper-level class.

I knew about the Berlin Wall, and it was fascinating to finally see it in real life. Most of the history instruction in school centered on World War II. We came to know about military operations by the Nazis such as Operation Sea Lion and Operation Barbarossa. Outside that, I knew the best cars were made in Germany, and that the beer was internationally renowned.

I really didn’t choose to come to Germany and leave Zimbabwe voluntarily. I happened to have been selected to attend a global journalism course in Berlin for two months, alongside other talented young journalists from all over the world. Unfortunately, I couldn’t return back home immediately because I learned my name had been blacklisted by President Robert Mugabe’s notorious secret service because of my critical political stories about his regime.

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