I attended an excellent German-Greek school and learned German for many years. In fact, I like German very much and even translated a couple of poems and texts by Goethe and Nietzsche into Greek when I was still at school. During that time, I also read several works written by German philosophers and came across a quote by Goethe: “He who wants to understand poetry / Must go to the land of poetry / He who wants to understand the poet / Must go to the land of the poet”. In that instant, I knew that simply reading the works wasn’t enough for me, but that I wanted to explore the deeper meaning behind them. So I decided to come to Germany for my studies – after all there is no better place to pursue a degree in German Studies than Germany. Here, I can both learn the language and explore German culture and mentality with all my senses.
In addition to the University of Mannheim, I also applied to other German and Greek universities and was accepted by them. But I have never regretted my decision to come to Mannheim because it is so beautiful and diverse. It is an industrial city with a long and rich history – and on top it is also characterized by a unique mix of cultures. Since my arrival, I have met people from all over the world.
It certainly helped, but I still struggled at the beginning. Not knowing anybody when I arrived was difficult for me. I needed to get used to a completely new environment and that was far from easy. It took some time until I felt at home here. But whenever I had a problem that I couldn’t solve on my own, I could turn to the International Office or the School of Humanities for help. Their staff was very supportive and I’m extremely grateful for their advice and assistance. It is a clear sign to me that people here care about international students, that they want to help, and I appreciate that very much.
It is probably different in many respects, but in my opinion there is no point in dwelling on that for too long. Now that I got an inside view of both countries I realize that there are a lot more similarities. Of course, I have inherited my home country’s values such as hospitality or the teachings of our great philosophers Plato and Aristotle. But while they are an integral part of my identity, I don’t want to be reduced to them. I’m always open to learning something new.
Currently, my studies take up all my time, but next semester I would like to become more involved and take part in the coaching program for international students. I know what it feels like to be new to Mannheim as an international student and what potential challenges await you at the beginning. That is why I feel responsible to help others who are in the same situation.
I have not made any definite plans yet and am open to all possibilities, though one thing I know for sure: I will never stop learning and dedicating myself to the things I like doing. Learning knows no boundaries.
Text: Tina Ratajczyk / May 2019