Willkommen in Oldenburg
by Maria Fernanda (Mafe) Davila Restrepo, Colombia (PPRE 2018-20)
It has now been two months since we arrived in Oldenburg for the German introductory course. We, 7 scholarship holders and 3 self-sponsored, have lived together one of the most interesting and exciting experiences in our lives. All of us were expecting just to learn about the German language, but instead, we also learned about German bureaucracy, Oldenburg’s lifestyle and, most importantly, we learned that PPRE and EUREC were going to be full of intercultural exchanges.
The first days were hectic for everyone: registering, health insurance, bank account, residence permit, enrollment, finding a place to live. Even though we had guidance for every single step, in most of the countries where we all come from, there isn’t anything similar to German bureaucracy. It was especially hard that every single step was connected to the one before (no bank account without registration, no health insurance without bank.), specially because everyone wanted to have everything ready as fast as possible. Luckily, we were all together through it and most importantly, we had the time! We all believe it is a great idea to come for the German language course because it is much easier to get everything done before every other new student from the university comes and has to do the same. We did everything before it got crowded. The enrollment office said they were expecting to process 2000 students on October 1st. One very important thing to note is: people in Oldenburg are very kind! Everyone is willing to help you, even if they can’t speak English.
Since we come from completely different countries (Colombia, Brasil, United States, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Ghana, Nigeria, Cameroon, Jordan, and Egypt), there was always someone learning something new. For example, grocery shopping is different in some countries, transportation is different everywhere, but we came to learn that even birthdays and birthday parties are different in most of our countries. The intercultural exchange between the group and Oldenburg has been very important, but the exchange within us has been amazing! One thing we now love doing together is to cook. We are trying different dishes almost every week.
During these two months, we have not only stayed in Oldenburg. The program also offers weekly excursions on Friday. We went together to Woldsee, Groningen, Cloppenburg, the botanical garden and even Hamburg. The tutors planned tours around the cities and we got to visit museums and eat different dishes typical from every city. This way, we have been applying the basic knowledge we gained during the course and also learned a lot from German history. The tutors also guided us in order to travel during the weekends to different cities like Amsterdam and Stockholm.
Looking back on these two months, which really feel like a whole semester, I feel it is of invaluable importance the group of friends we made, everything we learned about Germany, and specially the intercultural experience. We have lived so much in such a short time, that I strongly recommend everyone that is starting PPRE and EUREC to consider arriving early for the German language course. At the beginning it sounded just like a 2 month course, but it is really a whole adventure.