Being in a foreign country

The thought of being away from the comfort of your home can be quite overwhelming at times. However, once you think about all the new adventures that await you when you step out of your comfort zone, you will feel excited and happy. I felt FREE when I arrived in Berlin for my 5-month student exchange programme. Learning to be independent is something which a textbook can’t teach. It has to be nurtured and experienced.

Arriving in Berlin was exciting. I was full of hope and excitement as it was the first time I was away from home for a long period of time and I hoped that it will be a fun learning experience. However, being in a foreign country, one has to adapt to the climate and environment. When your surroundings seem strange and unfamiliar to you, the feeling starts to overwhelm you. But once you get adjusted and settled into a routine, life in Berlin starts to feel normal. And, most importantly, it starts to feel like HOME!

But, during my first few days here, there were a few hiccups here and there. It’s the same for anyone who has ever been to a new country with a whole different culture.

Here’s some tips when you’re in a foregin country:

  • Know sign-language or simple hand gestures. It’s exceptionally helpful when you don’t know the spoken language. For example, you can use your fingers to ask how much the price of an object is.
  • Be smiley (: Being cheerful and having a smile on your face always helps. No matter if the weather is terribly cold, you’ll enjoy yourself throughout the whole trip. Just smiling to strangers on the trams or trains also helps, because you’d never know when your smile can brighten someone’s day.
  • Know polite phrases or words in the native language. For example, ‘bitte’ and ‘danke’ in German, which respectively mean ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ in English. 

Those are some personal tips that I find useful to me. Till now, I still use them on a daily basis as I have yet to master the German language.

Coming from sunny Singapore, being in Berlin has been a whole new change. Different climate, culture and people. But I find that it is a whole new world where I have to live and grow in. It’s a nice feeling to be independent. Hope that I’ll become a better person after this 5 months.

If you want to know about Singapore, the city that I come from, please feel free to ask me (maybe I’ll even blog about in the future!)

Till next time, ta ta!  (:


3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. rainypanda
    Apr 25, 2010 @ 23:05:20

    Hello Joyce! If this entry is on facebook i would definitely like it! Being in the same situation as you, I can totally understand how you feel, when I’m reading this entry of yours.

    I agree with you that independence is something that we will definitely gain from this trip, and we will grow to be better persons after our exchange programme, be it more well-traveled or better with our intercultural skills, at the expense of stepping out of our comfort zones. There will be times when we will certainly miss Singapore, maybe because of the food there and most importantly our family and friends! (:

    Let this trip be an eye-opener for us and allow us to gain more experience in life. I believe that this will aid us in future, especially when dealing with people from other nations and when we get sent abroad for work(if there’s the chance).



  2. tanyongquan
    Apr 27, 2010 @ 08:32:17

    Joyce, I am sure you are already an expert in sign language. hahah.. You really used it to help you so well when registering at the Lichtenberg Rathaus and at the Russian Embassy! hahha..

    It is true living in a foreign country for such a long period can be overwhelming. Adaptation is never easy, but I am sure after this exchange, you will come out as a more independent and capable Joyce. And yes!Think of all the fun places that we will be going for our holidays!


  3. madinibini
    May 03, 2010 @ 11:19:38

    Hi there!

    Yep, I understand your feeligs of being the first time abroad on your own. I was in China for a year and I must say it was one of my best experiences ever! I learned to be much more independent and had my first own appartment which I enjoyed a lot.
    Though I’d say it is always better to stay a whole year in the same place. After one semester I felt more like home so I decided to stay a second one. Maybe you’d enjoy a second semester in Berlin as well. 😉


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