Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Real Stress

I sat and watched an immigrant/refugee news piece the other night on German state-run TV. At some point, they did a brief twenty-second interview clip with some African gal (she was speaking in English and the network did a translation piece to German).  I could hear the gal give her answer to the guy.....all relating to the difficult readjustment to Germany as her new homeland.  To be honest, she was a bit stressed and admitting that even shopping for groceries in Germany was a fairly harsh task.

I've spent a while thinking over her comment and pondering.

Someone who has lived their whole life in the US and done regular grocery shopping, then comes over to Germany without any language ability.....then starts up grocery shopping....might have some conflicts and issues on the first trip or two.  Words are different....product lines will be of a different name....and Germans do eat in a different fashion.  I think after five or six visits....the American would get this down pat and feel just minimum stress with German shopping.

The African?  I imagine German eating styles is a bit of a problem.  Pricing?  I'm guessing they are a bit shocked and keep thinking that there must be an open-market with cheaper vegetables or meat around.  You can shop cheaply....if you have a strategy, know the discount chains, and actively follow the weekly sales pattern.  Learning this strategy might take a month or two.

This brings me to the real issue of culture shock and adjustment.  Typically, a refugee or immigrant didn't spend hundreds of hours discussing options and the best pick for the country to make 'home'.  They might have had some relative tell them some bits of information....gaze over some pictures....or watch some movie and think that Bavaria looks charming.  Maybe if some six-hour introduction video had been used in this process and shown the ninety-nine problems of German living....the guy might have shaken his head and asked more questions.  Maybe Germany wouldn't be choice number one or two.

An American might arrive with no introduction and go through the same stress moments.  The driving requirements and rules?  Oh boy, you'd think after an hour of looking over the manual.....this test business is going to be impossible.  Then you get on the autobahn in some rush-hour and start to freak out with folks traveling along at 150 kph.

Toss in complex bureaucratic paperwork situations with the German visa office or the local Rothaus, and you start to shake your head.

Patience and determination are a quality that you must have.

I'm guessing that almost every single refugee and immigrant reach some point about six weeks into this experience where they question themselves and if they can really adjust to Germany.  They need some coaching and cooling-off periods.....to resettle their thinking.

As for Germans recognizing this with their 'new' associates? I'm not sure.  Germans never seem stressed over their culture or developed society.  They got used to it and just accepted it as the norm. It's the harsh reality for these new guys.

No comments: