When I used to hear about the topic "culture shock" I thought, that it doesn't really matter and I thought if I travel abroad for a long time, I will never experience this culture shock and that it will be easy to adapt to the new culture and atmosphere. But anyway, when I arrived to Germany last year to start my voluntary year and spent the first couple of weeks, I realised that I was totally mistaken and that culture shocks really matter!!
It was very interesting to know about cultural differences and how those differences could create misunderstanding between people.I remember that the first day I went to start my job, people's way of welcoming me was very different than my expectations, some of them just looked at me and didn't say anything, some said "Hi" with a smile and said nothing more. I expected that people will ask me too many questions about my trip, my expectations, how I feel at the moment. I felt that I was not really appreciated or welcomed, I did not understand that during work, people are too busy with what they do and they tend to be less talkative and that doesn't mean that they don't like me!
I couldn't imagine that sometimes the language could create a barrier. Although I speak fluent English and a little German, sometimes I could not express my feelings and opinions in another language, however, by time, I was able to express myself better and this is one of the advantages of travelling, I have learned how to communicate better and definitely my language has improved. I find it very challenging for me when I say or do things that might be misunderstood from others as well. It feels a little frustrating when people misunderstand you because of the differences in cultures.
The topic "environmental protection"
One of the known topics usually discussed here in Germany is the Environment protection " Umweltschutz". In Egypt, I haven't heard many people speaking about the environment and how to protect the environment. I am really glad that people here are aware of the problems that could result from the pollution and misuse of the environment and I hope that one day Egyptian people would be taking responsibility to think about the environment.
In Egypt, people live less organised life, they tend to be more random and spontaneous. In Germany, when I used to make things spontaneously or not really well organised or not stick to the weekly schedule, other people's reaction was too strict and I noticed that working in a spontaneous way could really cause troubles and some struggles with colleagues or neighbours.
Expression of feelings
Many people in Berlin tend to express their opinions or feelings directly which sometimes could be very offensive (in my point of view) so I quickly get the impression that people do not care for my feelings and that they are not friendly, which is not true. It took me some time to understand that this is the way people communicate with each other and they do not expect that the other person will be offended. One of the things that I really like about the culture, is that people take everything seriously, and they do their work with pleasure . By time, I have learned how to be more tolerant and to accept differences and to adapt to the new culture. I have learned many skills, like cooking and riding a bike . My German has improved the last couple of months.
I am really grateful for the many things I have learned here in Germany during the voluntary year and I hope that I can use those skills to make a good impact in my country.