- FIRST IMRESSION ON ARRIVAL
- TRAFFIC AND PUBLIC TRANSPORT
Travelling using Flix bus was so great due to less traffic, good roads with no bumps, less hooting and discipline for all the road users as compared to Kenya with so many vehicles on the roads, motorcycles and tuktuks leading to traffic jams and delays to appointments especially in big towns or cities like Nairobi and Mombasa and often so many accidents occur due to competition by the road users.Use of machines to pay for tram use is of great convenience since there is no conflicts in the money exchange process. In Kenya public transport is paid using cash and sometimes money is lost during these transactions for instance using a big note to pay one has to constantly remind the conductor for about 2-3 times for change otherwise he/she just gets away with it.
An automatic machine for acquiring tickets.
Movements around the city are simplified by the tram use and the method of acquiring tickets using machines and the discipline of the people surprised me because the there was no regular checkups of the tickets yet people still bought the tickets.
The computerized system of boarding and alighting whereby the stations are announced in the trams so people know when and where to alight unlike in Kenya where we use touts to announce the stations and if one is not careful they just pass your station and have to find your way back.
Therefore residents and visitors in Germany are assured of stress free movements using public transport.
A tram in Germany
motorcycles in Kenya
Tuktuks in Kenya
- GERMAN LANGUAGE
THE LANGUAGE CHALLENGE
Was so difficult to communicate because everything is in German including Menus in the restaurants, goods in the supermarkets, tram stations, even the computers in the classes are in German as well as the computer keyboards and therefore relied on translations and other times just keep guessing what something could probably mean.
I remember there was a tram strike on 10thApril and it was announced on the radio but again the language challenge.so I went at the station and waited for almost half an hour and then a gentleman came and told the people around something and the started walking and so I just stared at them. Fortunately a lady informed me about the strike and that she was walking back home .I said thanks and I assumed that the group that walked away was headed to the nearest station and so I immediately followed them for about 20 minutes .They didn’t talk to me all through the way so I was not sure whether they were headed to the tram station or to another destination so I just said a short prayer and continued following them and fortunately my instincts were true .we were finally at the tram station. And In the evening I was lucky to be picked by my host.
The following day the strike was over and so I boarded the tram normally but after one station the driver made an announcement and again I did not understand .so I just watched and then everybody got out of the tram and in Swahili we say “mwenye macho haambiwi tazama”meaning a person with eyes should not be told to watch so I just followed suit and got out of the tram as well.
However learning new things is always interesting especially when learning practically, so despite attending a German course I learnt so many things just by observing and listening to conversations.
It is also interesting that as much as German language is so foreign we also share some words in Swahili for instance “shule” in Swahili means school much similar to the German word “Schule” also meaning school.
For other exchange students planning to visit Germany it is wise that they familiarize themselves with the German language considering the fact that Kenya receives so many tourists from Germany therefore some knowledge on language would be so useful.
- BUSSINESSES IN KARLSRUHE
High stratification of shops such that all common goods are found in one shop for example:
· Food and vegetables
· Body and health hygiene
Unlike in Kenya where it’s possible to find everything under one roof for example in supermarkets, shopping malls.
Closing of shops on Sundays and holidays like the Easter holiday, Labor Day and the Pentecostal week holiday .This is so different in Kenya because on holidays only the formal sectors closes for example banks, and government offices. Other businesses like supermarkets and shopping malls remain open .Actually sales on these particular days are usually higher as people opt to go out, have fun and do shopping.
- FOOD IN KARLSRUHE AS COMPARED TO KENYA
During the first week it was difficult to find something to eat because of the language barrier since most menus are in English. I actually didn’t like my first meal because it was trial and error but at least I ate half of it. I actually thank God that I didn’t order pasta with cream because clearly I wouldn’t have even eaten a quarter of it.
Another challenge was getting our typical Kenyan food like ugali ,chapati,and we are also used to a lot fresh vegetables from the farms,fresh fish from the ocean and it was thus difficult to get used to buying everything in a supermarket and of course at a higher price.
The language again makes it more difficult to shop for food in supermarkets because most products are written in Deutch.
However with time it became easy to manage on my own as I knew joints where I could get quick food and when am in the house I would cook the food of my preference.
- STUDY ROOMS IN KARLSRUHE
The study rooms are great with each fitted with a number of computers and all computers fitted with internet and this provides a good study tool for students .They also make it simple when demonstrating something in the computer and all the students can follow.
Mainly back at my university we depend on individual laptops though we have one room fitted with computers and considering the population at the university, the room is always fully occupied.
The study methods are quite similar where we combine lectures with presentations and although the classes I attended were in German I enjoyed listening as it quickened my knowledge in Deutch .The interactions between the professors and the confidence of the students also made me build my confidence when giving presentations.
An example of study room at HsKA. Interactive moments with Prof Sissi.
- TECHONOLOGICAL ADVANCEMENT
The use of computerized machinery in carrying out various activities makes work easier and saves a lot of time .For instance when I started staying with my host and after some time I offered to wash the dishes and she just told me don’t worry there is a dish washer and I was so surprised that we spend so much time washing dishes by hand when a machine can just do that.
I was also happy that I wouldn’t have to wash my clothes by hand as am used to in Kenya and for once I can just kept my nails long.
I also saw a modern car wash and I actually stood there for some minutes watching the technology.
I also saw a machine pruning tree branches from the ground whereas in Kenya one has to climb the tree with a power saw to do the same.
A machine pruning trees .
- PROJECT WORK AND COURSES
PROJECT WORK AND COURSES.
Having a chance to be involved in the Women Empowerment in Kenya (WEIKE) Project is great since we try and find the best way to empower the women in Kenya and one of them is through agriculture.
With the help of other master’s students in the class I have been able to learn how to enter information into the Oxygen tool which they create as part of the Information architecture course.
Being involved in the Agriculture group we were able to create some useful information on how to grow various plants in Kenya. The information is created depending on different target groups that is: the women, the trainers and the land owners, which I believe is a good step into empowering women in Kenya.
I was glad to be involved in the project since I have a good background information on agriculture having been brought up in an agricultural family and having worked at the National Drought Management Authority in Kilifi which deals with empowering farmers in Kilifi County despite the harsh weather conditions such as prolonged droughts and floods during the rainy seasons.
In addition being involved in creating a learning platform for students that is KARLIFI for students in Karlsruhe and Kilifi is a good development as students can easily share ideas, learn and circulate information and will be glad to pass the knowledge back at my home university.
It is also a good step and a pace setter for other students both in Kilifi and Germany who will follow this example to come up with other helpful ideas.
However the main challenge that I faced during the classroom work was the language barrier where most presentations are in German and therefore some information would just pass .But all the same listening to the presentations from the students and how they interacted with their professors built my courage and later on I could express myself without fear.
Lectures at HsKA
Group work with Karlifi .org group.
During my stay in Germany I was privileged to attend a workshop which was named “fremdsein’, which means the state of feeling foreign in a different country.
It was interesting as it involved most international students in Germany as well as Germans who have visited other countries. In the workshop people discussed about things which made them feel strange and those which made them feel at ‘home’. This was a healthy discussion because we later understood that it is natural to feel strange and the best ways to cope.
Some of the issues included: food,language,culture,weather,social interactions,e.t.c.
It was also interesting to meet other international students and learn about their experience in Germany.
- COMPANIES AND WORKING ENVIROMENT IN GERMANY
COMPANIES AND WORKING ENVIROMENT
Was lucky to visit some companies around Germany that is Heidelburg and SEW Drive in BruchsaI got a chance to learn about some interesting things for example,
· The Flexi time working schedule that if one is required to work for a particular number of hours in a week one can decide to work extra hours in some days and the take a leave for a day or two.
· Taxes .That taxes paid reduce with marriage and family status .That taxes reduce if one is married and reduce further if one has children.
· Retirement age .The retirement is relatively the same that is 55 years to 60 years and a pension.
· Maternity leave. In Kenya maternity leave is three months while in Germany it is two years.
· Production. Was interesting to learn of some products made in these companies eg car gear boxes and machinery motors .We thought all the products come from China because every product that we use us usually written in “Made in China”.
TRIP TO HEIDELBERG
Being in Germany I got some interesting chances to visit different places .For instance:
Being an old city we also had the chance to go for a city tour with a guide who gave some interesting stories about the city, how it began, and various important events that took place in the course of history.
We also had the chance to visit the Heidelberg schloss which as well had its own interesting story .
The landscape in Heidelberg is fascinating for instance a river between two hills separated by a bridge which history says was destroyed more than two times by floods until the people finally built a stone bridge.
The buildings in the city as well as the Schloss are beautiful and one can tell a lot of creativity and advancement as early as the 16th century.
- THE SCHLOSS IN KARLSRUHE
I regularly visited the castle in Karslruhe which is as well beautiful. Had the opportunity to go up the tower which made it possible to get the aerial view of the whole city .It was also possible walk around in the castle to see various things which were as well interesting. The view outside is also fascinating and is therefore a good place for locals and tourists to spend time.
A museum inside the schloss
Beautiful sites in and out of the schloss
- TRIP TO STRASBOURG FRANCE
During my stay in Germany it was possible to visit France with my friends which was also a great experience. The train connection from Germany to France is great and therefore made our travel easy.
It was interesting to note that there were so many black people in France than in Germany.
I also noted a lot of business in the streets for example shoes and clothes in open air market as opposed to Germany, but it is common in Kenya.
It is a beautiful place and would therefore recommend others to visit France as well.
- INTERACTION WITH AMERICAN STUDENTS
INTERACTION WITH AMERICAN STUDENTS.
During my stay in Germany I was privileged to interact with American students from the University of Minnesota and had a chance to learn about education in America .
I also got a chance to share about education to German students as well as to the American students.
Together we were able to visit some companies in Germany and learnt a lot about the working environment in Germany and also learnt about working environment in America and again compare with Kenya.
For instance it was interesting that most people in the working force in Germany are above 40 years because the population has more aged people and therefore the number of unemployed youths is about 2 to 3%.Kenya on the other hand has the majority of the population being young people and therefore faces a very high level of unemployment at 22 to 23 % .
Giving a talk about education in Kenya to Bachelor students of HsKA and the American students from Minnesota State University
USA students from Minnesota State University
- CULTURE AND SOCIAL INTERACTION
The culture and social ties in Germany are not so tight .For instance people on the streets and in public places don’t just greet each other.It is different in Kenya because people are always friendly and often smile and say ‘Hi’even to strangers and therefore visitors can find it easy to even ask for directions.
- TRIP TO BIBERACH AND DURBACH
Am grateful to Simone Martin for offering to take us to her home place in Biberach ,which is so beautiful .We also had a chance to pick strawberries on her neighbors' farm which was so exciting.We also had a delicious strawberry cake prepared by Simone's dad.In addition we had a chance to walk though the woods in the black forest and climb up to a beautiful castle.
Moreover it was exciting to watch a wine festival at Durbach with some of the master students.
- Living with my host family
Am glad that I had the chance to live with a German family and compare with family settings in Kenya.I had good moments with my host family and at least I felt I had a second home away from home .It was also easier for me to learn a few German words from the kids as well as practice my orals.
My Kenyan and German families
- BACK HOME
EAST OR WEST HOME IS THE BEST.
Welcome to Kenya
- Topic 19