I have been living in Germany for about 2 months and there is something that I can state for sure: my host country is drastically different from my homeland.
I am from Armenia - a small country of sunkissed fruits, emotional duduk music and warm hearted people. Whereas if I risk to describe Germany I would say: fantastic nature and very serious people.
When I first entered Chemnitz a huge restorant sign kicked my eyes. It said “ARMENIA”. I smiled, because I thought I am not alone and maybe I am at home. The German girl sitting right next to me in the Flixbus most probably thought I am crazy, as smiling in Germany for no reason is a decent sign of lost sanity.
For the first couple of days after my arrival I felt completely lost. I couldn’t figure out how to do simple daily things, like buying food in supermarkets and using a public transport. I was afraid to make mistakes. Using new currency was of course another headache.
I felt completely stupid and knowing only one phrase in German “Ich spreche kein Deutsch” was certainly not helpful in this situation.
But as a real Armenian I improvised, adapted and survived!
Let’s talk a little bit about about Chemnitz, my current city.
Overall it is a very calm city in Saxony, in eastern Germany. It’s full of trees, some marvelous old buildings and vividly contrasting soviet architecture. Some people may dare to call it boring, but the 2018 summer for Chemnitz was maybe the most dynamic in the recent years. On August 26 there was an incident which resulted a death of a 35-year-old German-Cuban man. As a response to this, far-right groups protested against migrants and refugees coming to Germany. Left sided groups began counter protests. More than 65,000 people attended an anti-racist rock concert in Chemnitz on 3 September, protesting against the far-right and neo-Nazi activities.
This certain period was the time when I was offered to move to Germany, to Chemnitz.
So imagine me googling “Chemnitz” and seeing only articles about protests, racists, anti-racists and neo-Nazis. I was for sure flooded by doubts and for some reason also intrigued. Only one question was raised “What am I getting myself into?”.
Therefore when I arrived in Chemnitz I was sceptical towards people and very cautious. During the first week I have noticed that people were staring at me for unknown reasons. I swear I checked myself in a mirror for a couple of times to make sure I don’t have anything strange on my face. But later on I figured out, that my whole appearance can be considered strange and maybe the stares are out of curiosity. I should confess there is a chance that I was staring too, as I have never seen so many blond people in one place.
Please don’t judge me.
Sometimes we do things that mark our differences. Accepting our differences is the first step against racism. Yes, I am different, I don’t have almost white blond hair or blue eyes and Germans don’t have black eyebrows, deep dark eyes and big noses. All of these differences make the humanity so amazing, so vivid, so surprising and maybe (I hope) so harmonious.
Now I know people are not staring at me because they are racists, they are staring because I am an "Ausländer".