8 years and counting

Beautiful Cape Town

Today marks the day that I landed in South Africa for the very first time, 8 years ago to be exact. Cape Town was my point of entry.. Just named the world’s best destination by Trip Advisor, it is actually no wonder that I fell in love with this city and wanted to spend the rest of my life there at some point. Although, I must admit that my arrival day was terrible and all I wanted was to go back to Europe. Summer 2004 in Germany had been fantastic so far, loads of parties, afternoons at the lake with friends, ice cream and cocktails.. and then I arrived in Cape Town and was welcomed by a typical Cape Town winter’s day: rain, fog, clouds hanging so low that even Table Mountain was invisible. On top of that, I had made the typical mistake of most foreigners visiting South Africa: you’d think it is Africa and therefore always summer.. Oh what a prejudice.. South African Winter days can be cold and very uncomfortable and so was the 1st July 2004.

I remember calling home and crying. All I wanted was to go back to Germany and back to my friends and family. At least the friend-issue was sorted just a few days later. My good friend Christian from Germany who also did his exchange semester in Cape Town arrived a few days later and things went up hill (the weather, too). Continue reading “8 years and counting”

Proudly German

With shame I admit that there was a time when I wasn’t proud to be German. For generations my family has been of German heritage. We come from the southwest of Germany, close to the French border. There might have been times when the region my family comes from belonged to France and then to Germany again, then France fought back for it and so on until it became permanently German after WW2.  The family history goes back to the 14thcentury, wow, we even have a family coat of arms (which hangs on a wall in my grandparents’ house and since we were kids my cousins and myself have asked ourselves why there is an elephant represented??? We haven’t figured it out yet!). 

I became more conscious of my heritage after the 2006 FIFA World Cup which was held in Germany and left  a rather positive image of Germans to the rest of the world. The more recent events of the Euro crisis and Germany being seen as the economic power house of Europe and possible saviour of the Euro made me even more proud of being able to call myself German. Also, my last few trips to Germany made me aware how beautiful this country actually is, how efficient everything works, how I identify myself with the social virtues and the values lived. Although I’d describe myself as a cosmopolitan, having lived in  a few countries, deep down I am carrying stereotypical German values and morals, like being on-time, hard-working, pragmatic, conscientious, etc…

Experiencing this new sense of patriotism, I was deeply touched by an article I read in the lasted edition of the Time Magazine (Volume 178, No 13):

In the article the question comes up why Germany is so reluctant to take the lead? “The answer is rooted in history. German leaders’ attempts to control the country’s neighbours haven’t ended well, and Germans are wary of being seen as trying to dominate Europe diplomatically or economically even today… Yet, if anyone likes it or not, Germany is dominating Europe.” says the journalist.

Is our historical background the reason why I wasn’t proud be German for  about half my life? Having lived in Saudi Arabia for 5 years where Nazi-Germany is still glorified, might explain why Germany’s history has always been very present to me. Something no sane German is proud of, I am certain. So, I am proud that my fellow countrymen and -women were able to revise the general perception of Germans during the 2006 World Cup.  I hope that I am able to portray a friendly, nice, generous, funny image of the Germans to all the people I have met and to the friends I have made across the globe.

I don’t know where my future will take me to – maybe I’ll move back to Germany, maybe I’ll get posted to another country first, maybe I’ll get married to a man with another nationality and follow him into his home country.. no matter where I’ll be, I will always be proud of my German heritage and culture and will take it out there into the world!