I had my first reverse culture shock today. My first class was with the students from the Arbeitsamt - When people are unemployed, they can apply for free "enrichment" classes whereby the government pays for their courses. My school offers courses like these.
I walked into the class, realized that most of them are new so I went on to introduce myself as well as the country where I came from - Singapore.
Student: "Oh, Singapore is a cold country!"
Me: "Beg your pardon? There´s summer all year round"
(thinking that he probably got Singapore mixed up with some other random country).
"No no, I´m not talking about the climate. I´m talking the people. They are so unfriendly, impolite, not smiling, ......."
"How long were you in Singapore?"
"On holiday or business?"
"Well, if you don´t know any locals there, or have any friends to bring you around, people generally don´t go up to a stranger to make small talk. My German husband automatically gets to know my entire family and friends through me...."
Silence with a disgrunted look on his face.
I continued with what I wanted to say....yes, so I´m Pris, from Singapore. Singapore is clean and green. My hobbies are swimming, blogging, cooking..... Now please find out something about each other in pairs and introduce each other.
"No, Singapore is NOT clean, its dirty, ugly, horrible etc..."
Came the unexpected reply.
By this time, I was trying so hard to hold my temper. What did I do to this guy to deserve such insults and horrible comments about the country I come from? I´ve only met him 2 mins ago!
I shut him by saying, "Singapore IS clean and green meiner Meinung nach" - according to my personal opinion.
FYI, this guy blurted out all his negative comments in front of the entire class, with no sign of respect whatsoever, for the fact that he knew that I´m from Singapore. I was sooo taken aback by his comments.
I know that Singapore isn´t perfect, but its not deserving of all these comments from a person who only spent 2 weeks as a tourist in Singapore, who knows absolutely nothing about the culture or people.
And this person refused to listen whatsoever to what I had to say - to hear the point of view of a native Singaporean?!? I couldn´t help feeling patriotic rage rising in my veins.
I thought that I might have been over-reacting, but as the class progressed, I realized that he´s really the epitomy of negativity.
Whatever he said dripped with sarcasm and dampened the entire atmosphere of the class. You know, the type of person who is done with the exercises the fastest, but is tongue-tied when he has to present his answers to the rest of the class.
And yes, I know I should forgive and all, but I needed to vent. I told my hubby about this incident and he said,"Now, do you understand how I felt when you kept going on about Germany this, Germany that?"
For which I defended myself saying,"I would never go to a German, someone whom I´ve never met and bitch about Germany, pointing out all the worst of the country, which is not even true???"
But yeah, I saw his point. And I truly felt sorry. I think after staying in Germany for more than 3 years, I´m learning to accept the differences in culture more.
I´m also watching my tongue more whenever I meet a nasty German or have a bad experience here. A few black sheep doesn´t make the entire flock bad.....
And there are SOO many great Germans here, whom I´ve had the privilege of getting to know - you know who you are, who´ve helped me to feel more at home here.
So yeah, here´s officially saying Sorry to whoever who might be personally upset by my "not-so-diplomatic" comments about Germany esp. during my first year in Germany.
Quoting from a book I´m reading now
"We aren´t here to change or judge the culture. We´re here to introduce them to the One who created them and their culture. God will make the necessary adjustment in their culture in order to redeem all of its intrinsic beauty. We are not here to change peoples´cultures. Plus, I have learnt so much from them (Germans) and their sense of priorities that our Asian culture would do well to heed" Art Sanborn in "A walking miracle"
I like Germany and Germany´s beautiful....almost as beautiful as Singapore. hahah. Nah, I must say I really am learning to appreciate Germany more for what it is. A beautiful culture and people created by God and loved by Him.
And for me, its home as here is where God wants us to be.