Some people chose to live in Germany, and some people came here because they had to. Maybe they came for work, to study, for a relationship, because life in their home country was no longer possible… there are many different reasons why people have come here, and in the process of living here, people find that life in Germany can be exciting , and it can be difficult – and probably both.
The following questions are based on comments I have heard from other people who are trying to adjust to life in Germany. Do any of the following questions describe your experience?
- The first few months were exciting – everything was new and interesting – but now the reality has set in, and you are asking yourself, “Why am I here? Is this where I want to live?”
- Are you lonely? Do you miss your family and friends, and the familiar things about home? Do you spend lots of time watching television, or films on the internet, or talking with people back home, trying to cover up the loneliness?
- Do you complain about the weather and food here in Germany, and think, “It’s much nicer at home.”?
- Do you sometimes think, “I was somebody in my home country. I had a job, I had things to do, I had a purpose in life, I had family and friends. Here, I am nobody.”
- Do you feel like you don’t belong, as if there is no place for you and the way that you do things and see the world?
- Are you trying to find a balance between your own culture – the ways that you do things and how you “are” – and German culture? Does is sometimes feel like you have to give up some of the things in your life that are really important to you, like the way you dress, the way you interact with people, or how you express your feelings?
- Do you try to be friendly with your German neighbors, but find that they seem cold and not very interested in getting to know you?
- Do you sometimes feel like a child again, as if you can’t find your way in the world? Have you lost some of your self confidence? Do you feel lost?
- Are you drinking, or using drugs, or eating, or shopping as a way to “cover up” some of the unpleasant feelings you are having?
- If you are trying to learn German, does it sometimes seem like you have lost your voice, because you can’t say what you are thinking and feeling in German? Is it difficult to learn German, and do you sometimes say to yourself, “I will never be able to speak this language.”
- Do you sometimes get ignored or disrespected by Germans when you try to interact with them or ask them a question?
- Do you sometimes get angry with people, and ask yourself, “What is wrong with me? Why am I so angry? I wasn’t this way at home.”
- If you are in a relationship with a German, are you having some conflicts that might be due to cultural and language differences between yourself and your partner?
If you are experiencing any or all of these things, you are not alone. These difficult experiences, feelings, and thoughts are part of a “normal” adjustment process to living in Germany or maybe any foreign country. Other people have experienced the same things, and there are things that you can do to improve and change your situation.
In my experience, it helps to talk about what you are feeling. Some people have a tendency to isolate themselves, avoid other people, and avoid the unpleasant feelings they are having. But isolation usually doesn’t help.
By the way, I’ve personally experienced all the issues in the questions above. At one point or another, I’ve answered “yes” to each of these questions.