I come from Bosnia and lived there until the war broke out in 1992. Then I immigrated to Norway with my family. Four years later, we returned to Bosnia, I finished school, and then studied English linguistics and literature. As part of my program of study, I spent a semester abroad in the USA. However, back in Bosnia, I learned that my period of study in the USA would not be recognized. I was very disappointed, dropped out of university, and started to work. I have done all kinds of jobs: I worked as a strawberry picker, screen printer, salesclerk, camera operator, and translator.
Actually, I always knew that I would not stay in Bosnia. Together with my wife, I considered where we would like to build up a new life. We chose Germany because I already had some knowledge of German. I learned some German by watching German TV series and then passed on my knowledge to my wife. She was the first to get the visa we had both applied for. Therefore, while she was already working in Germany, I had to wait another year and in the meantime, I commuted between Bosnia and Germany by bus. Two years ago, I finally got my papers and since then, I have been living in Germany together with my wife.
When I came to Germany, I first worked as a screen printer for one year, as I already had some experience in this field. However, I wanted to finish my studies in English linguistics and literature, which I started in Bosnia, and so I applied to university. When I was still commuting by bus between Germany and Bosnia, Mannheim was the final stop of my bus ride. This is why Mannheim was the first German city that I got to know and that I was familiar with. For this reason, the University of Mannheim was my first and only choice; I did not apply to any other university in Germany.
There is a lot of corruption in Bosnia and it is difficult to find a job. Although the war was over 20 years ago, its impact can still be felt. When I returned from my semester abroad in the USA, I experienced a real culture shock. In Germany, I have many more options for my professional life and can, for example, take holidays. Despite the differences, I would like to do my best to get used to living in Germany, including tax payments, waste separation, and everything else associated with living here.
I like the feeling that things are progressing now and that I can finish my studies. When still in Bosnia, I always felt a great uncertainty about the future, which is no longer the case now. In general, I like the fact that the people here are much more open and confident than in Bosnia.
Text: Tina Ratajczyk / March 2020