When I found out that I was coming to Germany, I got a lot of well-meaning advice.
People told me things like’ carry warm clothing along, carry pepper sauce, avoid most of the Ghanaians in Germany,take gari along with you, open yourself up to the experience, don’t come back to Ghana’ etc.
Some of it was useful and some of it went in one ear and came out the other ear.
I wish they had told me that :
It is not a very good time to be in Germany because of the refugee crises. I wish they had told me that I would get stares when walking along the street. I wish they could have told me there would be times when I would want to print an inscription on a t-shirt saying ‘ Ich bin kein fluechtling’
I wish they could have warned me that getting lost would become second nature .I wish they could have told me that there will be times when I would wish I could go back home on the next available flight. They should have warned me about the times when I ask myself ‘what on earth am I doing in this country!’
I wish they could have warned me that I would get stared at for doing things that it would appear i should not be able, like skillfully handle a fork and knife or read a novel in German.
Sometimes,I really wonder how some of the other Africans live and what perceptions they have created about Africans. It should not be strange that i can cook Lasange or that i swim[ But that’s a story for another day].
What they could not have told me was:
A smile is a universal language and a baby’s smile is one of the most wonderful things on earth
There comes a time in your life when you appreciate kindness the kindness of a stranger. When someone is nice to you, it is makes your heart sing and make you feel like you can survive. Be nice to people. You never know what your smile can do for someone.
Germans are much nicer people than they are reputed to be. Never depend on other peoples’ opinion for your perception of others[Lufthansa advertisement, case in point].
I have laughed, been surprised, and walked more than I have in my whole life. I have met so many people from so many cultures and have had my horizon broadened in so many ways.
I have learnt that:
There is no place like home. We take many, many blessings for granted, like hot waakye and a mother’s love.
You will never know yourself until you are uprooted from your place of comfort and placed in an entirely different setting. You will discover hidden pockets of strengths you never knew you had.
You will be forced to grow up and be resourceful. If you are a Ghanaian like me, you have to switch from using lotto kiosks and coconut trees as directional signs to street names:-)
I am on a journey and have no idea what tomorrow will be like, but I am determined to enjoy each moment and make the best of my experience!
*JJC- Johny Just Come is a newbie,someone who is new usually to a big city and commits blunders
*Gari- Granulated cassava( manioc)
*All images from Google images