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16 September 2017

Russian roots

My Name is Natalie or shall I say Natalija Alexandrovna?
I am German. Sort of. Well, I was born in Kazakhstan and moved to Germany when I was 1 year old. Basically my life only really started in Germany one can say. But why did my family move away?
Our family background story is a little bit difficult. If you are interested in World History you can just research the topic: Russian Germans or Volga Germans or Kazakhstan Germans. In a few words: my family’s roots are German. They emigrated from Germany to Russia a long time ago to start a new life in Russia, filled with dreams. They lived in the territory of Russia for a few centuries but in World War 2 many Germans who were living in the territory of Russia got expelled from their home. A lot of people were forcibly departed to Kazakhstan.
This was a very short description of my families’ past.
My blood is mostly German, a little bit of Russian is mixed in it (mostly because of my grandfather).

I had my first transcontinental flight when I was a baby. I was about 1 year and a few months old. The route was from Kazakhstan to Germany. One way ticket, of course.
I know this very flight was the most exciting flight my parents have ever been on. I didn’t experience that flight to be that exciting. I slept the whole journey.

Though we got the German citizenship as soon as we got on German land, my parents until this very date don’t consider themselves as German (after 22 years in Germany) and culturally speaking I have to admit that my family has adapted the soviet culture they grew up in.
I can tell that my parents have dedicated their lives for their children who are my brother and I. They gave up their safe careers in Kazakhstan and decided to start from zero in Germany so that their children could have better career chances globally. The degrees they have obtained in the Soviet Union aren’t supported here in Germany. They had to start from the bottom.
But they just haven’t seen a bright future in their homeland.
My mother sometimes tells me about their very first days here in Germany. She is able to laugh about the fact that they only had two small suitcases when starting their new life. I was a baby so the only concern I had at that time was when to eat or sleep. I didn’t experience their first years in Germany with a conscious mind.

If I’m honest there were times I was angry at my parents.
I was angry at them that they were immigrants, that they couldn’t speak proper German, that we weren’t as rich as others, that they had jobs that weren’t as fancy as the jobs the parents of my classmates had. I was ashamed at times when school has invited my parents to talk about your grades in school. I was afraid that my teachers would laugh at my parents’ accent.
Luckily I do know how life works now, though I still have a lot to learn and I am so thankful with all of my heart that my parents have made that decision. They have tried their best and now my brother and I both receive higher education and we have the aim to build a career. I no longer feel ashamed for my family background. I am proud. We as children will forever be in our parents debt.
I am forever grateful.

But I really want to tell those people that want to immigrate to Germany from a foreign country one thing: If you don’t want to work your ass off, your chances in this country are very low to reach a good standard of living.
You have to be determined. You have to have a certain goal when immigrating to Germany or else you will simply fail.
A goal could be a certain degree of studies that you want to obtain in Germany as the standard of teaching is very high. A goal could also be to pursue a certain business idea or simply just work in your own profession (the higher the academic degree the better) in which you haven’t found a job in your home country.
But on the other hand I think it is very essential for immigrating families to have respect for the laws and behaviour of their guest country. Respect is the most essential aspect when it comes to immigration. Respect and acceptance. Without those key factors immigration could end up very badly.

I am very lucky in a sense that I got to experience two different cultures in such detail. It helped me  crossing the world with open eyes, being able to understand and accept different ways of living. Moreover speaking more than one language opens many doors for you.
If you were to ask me which country I identify the most with I would straight up tell you: Germany.
I guess the country you grew up in, will always be your home you return to no matter how far your life journey has brought you.
I love exploring different countries and cultures. Maybe that is because of my own family background. Having a mixed heritage makes an individual just so interesting.
Germany is a country full of immigrants, no one can deny that. And this is exactly what makes this country so special. It is a very modern country and the influences of so many different cultures in one country is exceptional in Europe.
I do think that Germany profits from having different cultural influences. It opens our minds. We can profit from the ideas and spirit of foreigners.

On that note I want to tell everyone reading this post, appreciate your heritage, don’t feel ashamed for your culture, keep in mind that your parents have left their homeland to gift a better life to you! Therfore take this chance, make the best out of your situation and never belie where you come from. And treat people with respect!

Did you grow up in an immigrating environment?
What is your experience?
Feel free to share your story below in the comments.

☼ N.

A house in a village somewhere in Kazakhstan (photographed by my mother)

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