Carol (3/3): “Kiel is my happy place for now”

“The first few weeks were so damn hard”

When I came here I didn’t know German. All I could say was “Ich spreche nicht deutsch”.

The first few weeks were so damn hard.  I didn’t have that many friends when I first came. So the first month I was kind of alone because I arrived a month before the semester started.


I had to figure things out by myself and

I now know how hard it can be to not speak the language.

And it made me a really humbled person.


It made me humble person because it made me empathetic for people who couldn’t speak the language.


All my life I could just get away with speaking English and for the first time it was like “Oh shit, I have no idea what’s happening around me. I have no idea how to ask for help” and sometimes I had to stay in and cry.


My course (at the university) was in English and I thought there were a lot of people who speak English, I thought language wouldn’t be a problem.

I realized language is a huge problem. I went to the supermarket and I didn’t know what to buy because I didn’t understand the names. I had to ask the cashier for help. Everything was different. I had a lot of “uh oh” moments.


English is not my first language. It’s my fourth.

I speak my mother tongue very fluently,

then I have also learnt the national language of India, in addition to Sanskrit.


But still I managed to read and speak English fluently, people could understand me and I also worked in a leading English daily in India.

But when it came to German I was like “I quit”. It’s a very challenging language to master.


Something I don’t like about Germany: I wish more people would speak English. The university has a lot of international students so I wish more people would speak English. But it’s not a major thing.


A part of me feels stupid and annoyed because I can’t speak German fluently.


I went to the Netherlands for a workshop for ten days. I realized there how easy life could be. Everyone spoke English, everyone was so friendly and polite. I didn’t feel uncomfortable or out of place because I could speak a language that was very well understood by everyone around me.


I felt feeling more comfortable in Kiel once my class started. I made friends and we could hang out and speak English and go to places and we would all be in the same boat because we didn’t know German. That made it easier language-wise.

That’s when I started to enjoy Kiel.


“I love Kiel”

I really like how people are so to the point. Everyone says it’s really bad but I love it. It makes life so much simpler and happier.

This is my place, people tell you exactly what they mean and you don’t have to spend energy and time to figure out what they might have meant. And also the fact that you can be open with them and no one takes it in a bad way. But you should also not hurt someone’s feelings.


I love Kiel. There was an instant connection. At this point of my life I wanted a place that was not huge, not being a nameless face walking around because that was how I felt while living in metropolitan cities like London and Dubai.

Kiel is perfect because it’s big enough, but also small enough that I see someone I know. You have familiar faces around you, but not too many that you feel overwhelmed either.


I don’t know what the future holds, but Kiel is my happy place for now.


I always had people helping me out. A couple of days after I moved to Kiel, I was starving, I didn’t know what to buy and I didn’t want to cook either. I was standing in front of a food truck that sells chicken and I didn’t know how to place my order. So I was just standing there, wondering what I was supposed to do and this guy comes up and asks me if I want any help. I don’t know what it was about me made him reach out to me but he said “I was like you when I first came so I understand”. He was from Syria and he ordered my food for me. That was nice.


So these days, I try to do the same thing for someone who looks lost

and ask if they want some help.


“All the places I’ve visited were good for that state of my life

What I love about Germany is my apartment. While it’s not my home per se, it’s the closest to my ‘home’ in Germany.


Home is where you can be yourself, where you don’t pretend,

no masks, and no smile when you are not happy.

Just being you.


I think my home is my mom. I have tried to pretend but she always sees through me. Even when we speak on the phone. So I’ve stopped pretending.


All the places I’ve visited were good for that state of my life. Every place had a different theme, I was going through different life situations.


Things maybe look good on the outside but if you don’t feel it inside it doesn’t make sense to stay.


Even if I had a chance to go back, I wouldn’t change anything. It’s a question I’ve always been asked.

The easier way would have been to stay in India and sometimes, when things turned hard, I used to wonder if I made a mistake by moving abroad. But now when I look back I wouldn’t change anything. Even all the struggles and all the money issues.


So now it fits all in the whole picture. I know now where everything belongs.

I am pleased with myself and my life where I am now.

I am really happy.



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