When East met West

Article published on Feb. 8, 2010
community published
Article published on Feb. 8, 2010

Author: Evgeniya Lisovskaya

Complementing ‘Why Russia?’, an article we published a while ago, here is an article by Evgeniya Lisovskaya offering the Russian perspective of what it means for a Russian to spend time in Germany and encounter German culture.

I had come to this country with a baggage of stereotypes, as a student of intercultural communication, I admit it. Some of them were rejected, others were reinforced. Actually, stereotypes are not so bad. We need them to make the reality around us seem easier. However, the problem is that these stereotypes affect our own behavior. The most important lesson I learnt is never to generalize. There are completely different people within one nation. Some of them correspond to the common image of a country, while others are the complete opposite.

I came to Germany a year and a half ago, believing that Germans were cold, but friendly, punctual, well organized, pathologically honest and straight. My first encounter was a lady in the International Students’ Office. I was one month late for my studies because of some visa problems, felt guilty (in a typically Russian way of feeling guilty for any kind of authorities), was very nervous, and again, already guilty, because of my poor German language skills, especially when it comes to listening comprehension. Fortunately, or unfortunately for that matter, she was not going to talk to me neither in German nor in English; apparently, consultation hours were over. From that day on I knew that consultation hours in Germany are a sacred thing nobody should dare violate. She threw the dormitory room keys and the map of the town in my face, pointing with her finger where I would live and saying that she had no time for me. And, that was it. Then there was this taxi driver, who shouted at me for not waiting on the right side of the building, and in that outburst of anger he said that I should never do this sort of thing again. So thanks to him I learned that not all Germans are friendly. Later, I was even glad that I have gone through this experience, because it made me learn that these people are not robots; they can be different.

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