When I lived in Deutschland for 5 months less 1 week this year, I had come to realize how independent I have started growing. Living and working away from family and friends. My mind was getting more flexible than I can imagine. I could jump on any interesting offer to change my physical location. I liked how flexible and open-minded I have become. Living away from home has cultivated many attributes in me. So when the chance to go to Germany came, I was stoked about the idea and wondered how fantastic it would turn out.
Personally and humbly speaking, the trip is one of the highlights of my career, having come far in my quest for energy efficient and sustainable buildings. I had come to understand how to improve and evaluate thermal comfort in our buildings during my research stay at the Bauhaus University in Weimar. I also learned a lot about other things like how to speak a little German, what is life in a European country, who Germans are, history of Europe, how to cook Italian lasagne and seeing my friend cook Egyptian Koshari, living in a more sustainable way, why they are more developed than African countries, yoga, stargazing and hunting, bouldering, and a lot of other things, too numerous to mention.
In subsequent blog posts, I intend to share different stories of my stay there. Subscribe to my blog not to miss out.
Out of the numerous things I learned, I will start with these two things mentioned below.
Learning to Appreciate and Enjoy More
One of the things I took away was learning to enjoy nature more and more. It was a lovely sunny day and I looked outside my window, alas! What did I see? Some two guys holding their shoes and working bare feet on the hot tarred roads. My eye sight fixed on them as they treaded on the road before turning left and disappearing. Another time again, I saw another group of friends repeating that. And my wondering came to an end. I understood why they took off their shoes; to feel the sun warmed roads. The summer has started and they are not letting go any moment of it to waste. And I remember myself, how I will like to take off my shoes and walk in the beach sand. Walking slowly at times, allowing my feet to sink into the sand and giving me a soothing feeling in my brain. But this didn’t teach me that, seeing some guys walk bare feet just to feel the warmth of the sun inspired me to appreciate more the things around me, especially the things we do not often notice. To acknowledge that such enjoyments might not be forever and the need to live every moment of its existence is key to becoming happier daily.
They don’t know just as much as about Africa
I listened to Chimamanda Adichie’s Ted Talk on the Dangers of a Single Story. She narrated how her first roommate in the US asked her questions about what Africa was like, especially how she turned out to speak very good English. The questions were nothing but pitiful, due to the huge ignorance and misconception of a single story many non-Africans have have on African countries. “Do you have roads like the way we have them in Germany?”, “Do you have power (electricity)?” and other questions I cannot remember verbatim but remember the ignorance of the questioner, when I was asked. It is completely alright to be unaware of things outside your way. There is quite a lot happening in people’s lives that what doesn’t matter won’t mean a thing, especially when one big continent of 54 different nations with 2000 different spoken languages and different cultures gets generalized as one. Do not get me wrong, I am completely not mad about it. I and many ‘Africans’ have our own single stories of developed countries. But when I pay close attention to this notion of generalization of Africa, I often ask myself whether it is right for all those beautiful different people to be taken as one when it comes to description.
I have lived in two different parts of the continent, the east and west, and been to a total of 4 different African countries, including Egypt. They all have many different things, not only through my eyes, but in terms of geography, time difference, language, currency, social interaction, food, mannerisms, festivals, etc. seeing much of that diversity in Nigeria, Kenya, Tanzania and Egypt motivates me to take different expeditions to other African countries. I cannot promise, but I think I will make it a point to see the whole of those countries.
Appreciating the different countries means showing concern, respect, and knowledge and acknowledge their existence and diversity. Many people, including ‘Africans’ have joined in this wrong generalization. I always like asking, what part of Africa are you referring to?
Living in Europe has been fantastic to say the least. So many amiable memories, friends and relationships have been formed. I am eager to share my backpacking trip around some western European countries with you. Reminiscing all these bring smiles to my face. Do subscribe to not miss a post 🙂