I was born and raised in Namibia, a small country right above South Africa. Until about four years ago, I left my motherland for the first time ever to live in, not only a foreign country, but a different continent, miles and miles away from home. I must say that Namibia is a very beautiful country. With a population of 2.2 million people, day to day life can be pretty slow — whether it be waiting for a doctor’s appointment, or waiting for the cashier at the post office to sell you a N$5 postage stamp, or even waiting for a mini-bus to fill up with passengers (a wait that could take 30 mins or 3 hours depending on sheer luck) before it takes off. That’s Namibia for you, a place where one’s patience is indirectly tested every single day. Overall, Namibians have a pretty chilled way of approaching life, are very friendly and almost open to anything and anyone whether or not they know you personally. Also, it is one of the safest when compared to a lot of other African countries.
I never really imagined that I would eventually live and settle in a country outside the continent; although I’d admit, the idea of furthering my studies and/or working abroad had crossed my mind more than once, and I didn’t have a particular preference as far as a location was concerned.
My life in Wüzburg has taught me that while Germany is pretty incredible, the grass is not always greener on the other side.
I left Namibia for Germany in 2012 . It was a huge and major step that I took, and probably the most ‘adult’ decision I have ever made in my whole entire life — to follow my heart and face my fears. I met and got to know an incredible person whom I liked so much, and grew to love along the way. But then it was somehow complicated as he lived in a different country. One of us had to move, so we got married and I willingly prepared to make Germany my second home.
There is so much I love about Germany. The four seasons are marvelous, breathtaking, and magical. My favorite being fall, when the forests turn golden brown with the warm sun shining through, it’s amazing! Germany also appears to be the center of Europe. For anyone who loves traveling, it’s easily accessible and a quick plane or car ride away from other European countries like Italy, Austria, Switzerland and Poland. For a travel junkie like me, that’s awesome. German cuisine is not exactly as refined as I would personally like it to be, but if there’s anything they make absolutely well, it’s bread…and sausages.
There are a few things I enjoy doing like going for long walks in the forests; there are no forests in Namibia, so it’s really a special treat for me. Or cycling. Almost everyone here owns a bicycle, it’s so much fun, safe and very practical. As I reflect on the amazing things I have come to enjoy about Germany, I also think about the lessons I have learned, and those I am sure I will continue to learn.
One thing I have learned about life is that the grass isn’t always greener on the other side. I think many of us Africans assume that a move to Germany or any other country in Europe comes well packaged with a good life and wealth, but that is so far off from reality. Just like it is back home, you have to work hard to be able to sustain a comfortable life here. I practiced as a licensed nurse in Namibia, but learned within a few days of arrival in Germany, that my certification was not valid according to the educational system here and I would have to essentially restart my training as far back as the high school level to be able to pursue a career that I have always been passionate about. It can also be incredibly hard to get a German to loosen up and smile a bit but once you do, they are the friendliest and some of the most softhearted people you can ever imagine.
For anyone who wishes to move to Germany, I would advise you to try your best to integrate into society and take a language course here; it is very important that you are able to speak German otherwise you will have a very difficult, almost impossible life getting around. Going out of your way to make friends, both foreign and local, goes a long way in helping one become part of the society and also helps to prevent loneliness and depression. Embrace the things you love and accept things you can’t change and you will have a wonderful German experience.
Image: Courtesy Maria Peter
Maria B.N Peter is a Namibian native who currently resides in Wüzburg, Germany. A nurse by profession, she currently volunteers at the old age home and enjoys listening to music & reading during her leisure time. Catch her on Instagram.