Being an MD,  Life story,  Thoughts

Es ist nicht alles Gold, was glänzt

The Germans say, “es ist nicht alles Gold, was glänzt.” (all that glitters is not gold)

There is this opinion in Indonesia: once you are in Germany (or Europe or USA whatever), everything will be soo easy. You will get anything you want. You can be rich, you will earn so much money, everything is provided by the government. is so easy.. la la la..

Well I can tell you firsthand: it’s NOT always easy, just as it’s not easy in Indonesia or wherever you are. You earn what you work for.

The German language can be very painful to learn for some people. It is indeed not the easiest language. Although I could already talk in German, the beginning of medical study was NOT easy.

I’m now thinking about:

  • the plentiful sleepless nights, just because you have to learn..learn..and learn. Oh yes, especially in courses such as physiology, cell biology, biochemistry, ethics, basic psychology  and so on. In those courses one needs a nearly perfect German to actually understand what’s going on.. And we used to have oral tests nearly once a week! There was no guessing A – B – or C as in multiple choices.. ;( I used to learn with double textbooks (one in English and one in German). By reading the english textbooks I could understand the content. Once I understood, what I needed to learn and comprehend, I read the german textbooks. I would copy the german text and write it down in my notebook by hand, so that I could memorize and reproduce it. Yes, it took time and it cost me a lot of nerves. When probably a german student needs 1 hour for a certain theme, I would need 2 hours just because. But hey on the bright side: I could actually paraphrase a lot of topics bilingually 🙂 This method proved to be very efficient! Of all tests and exams during the 6-years-study I flopped only once (thank God!!).
  • the lack of confidence to speak up when I was in group-seminars or lectures, just because I was afraid, that my fellow students or the lecturers wouldn’t understand my questions or my comments due to my insufficient Deutsch (or worse I was afraid, that they would laugh at me and my hideous Deutsch). Even if I keep repeating to all people around me, that the lack of confidence to speak up may result in a bad improvement of the language, I myself have this problem over and over again (probably until now..although my lack of confidence has decreased potentially 😉 ).
  • the incapability to mingle with people outside of the medical faculty. There were actually two reasons for me for not having so many friends outside of the faculty. One reason is that the MHH (Hannover Medical School) is located on one end of the city, whereas other faculties are much more central. It takes about 20 – 25 minutes by tram  or 30-40 minutes by bike to get to the city center. As I always lived by the campus (because it’s more practical and cheaper), I didn’t get to the city center so much. Thus I didn’t get to see many people outside of the faculty nor many indonesian fellows in Hannover. The second reason is that I spent my time basically “only” for learning in the first two years (well if I didn’t go out with my former boyfriend or work part-time.. :p). Honestly I could only talk about anatomy, physiology or pathology in my first years of study. Whoever wants to talk to that kind of nerd, who can only talks about anatomy or physiology??
  • the drive to have a bit higher life standard. I fortunately had a financial support from my family. At that time there was no tuition fee, semester train ticket was included in the fee and the standard living cost in Germany is pretty much manageable. I won’t give out the numbers here, but I would say, that the money I had was enough for my primary needs. I liked some more money especially to go to Berlin  to visit my brother or former boyfriend, or just to go to cafés. That is why I decided to find a part-time job. I used to have a little bit more money by working part-time in Indonesia (usually by selling Oriflame products 😉 ). As I said before, the first study year was very challenging due to the new courses. That is why I didn’t work in the first two semesters. In the third semester I began working in a “Pommesbude” (french fries – stall) in the central station. I didn’t last long there (3 months.. Oh Gott..), just because I was afraid of getting burned by the hot oil used to fry the potatoes and I didn’t have the patience to serve hundreds of customers, especially after soccer games.. Fortunately I got a side job being a “Tutor” for histology classes (assistant for lecturers, usually in group-seminars). I then found my passion of teaching. I did this kind of job then until the end of my study.. And yes, the money I had was then enough for my basic needs and some extra stuffs 🙂

After some more years of study things became naturally easier. And after some curves I’ve come to a point, that I understand 95% of Deutsch (I’m not even sure, if a born German understands his language 100%-ly 😉 ). I can say this to whoever comes to Germany for a study: the language is indeed painful. Even after 10 years you would still make mistakes in putting the right article (yes..I know how painful it is.. der-die-das..whatever!). But you see, the reward you’ll get is soo much bigger when you master this language! In the past years Hannover people (with their Hochdeutsch) used to ask me whether I come from Bayern (Bavaria) due to my “accent”. I usually responded,”no.. I come from further south..” 😉  Now I live in Franconia (also in the south of Germany, which is officially also Bavaria) and here people would say,”Oh..Sie sprechen ja richtig Hochdeutsch” (oh you talk Hochdeutsch!). Here in Franconia I can finally identify myself as a Hannoveranerin with her Hochdeutsch.

To this end, in Germany even if it doesn’t glitter, it may be gold..

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