Life's journeys: Language, culture, communication

, ,


We met at my son’s new kindergarten in Munich, during the “adjustment” period.

Süle is almost 40 and has two kids, ages 3 and 4. “Within 16 months, I had 2 children”, she laughs. “But now it’s enough. It’s too hard. I have shut down the factory”. Süle has been in Germany for the past 4 years but hasn’t had a chance to attend a German course yet. Now, with both kids finally in daycare, she will begin in February. Her eyes are sparkling and you can tell she can’t wait.

Süle is dying for a smoke, and asks when she’ll be allowed to go outside for a cigarette. (All parents of new children are expected to stay inside in case the little ones don’t take the separation too well.) She’s a Muslim she says, so it’s really bad to smoke. Her in-laws don’t know that she smokes. And they shouldn’t find out. But she couldn’t help it. She had quit for 4 years, with both kids, but her sister-in-law got her going again. She says she hates it, because it stinks to high heaven, especially in the house, but when she’s not smoking she’ll eat everything she can get her hands on: “like a vacuum cleaner”. She went from 66 to 74 kilograms after a “dry” spell. I tell her to eat fruit. She says she needs her 3-4 cigarettes in the morning and then she’ll be fine for the rest of the day.

As a police officer in Kosovo, Süle used to work 16-hour days on prostitution cases, writing documentation for the prosecutors, and getting her Law degree. Everything had to be just perfect, and she loved working with foreigners from other police forces. She loved the buzz. She didn’t think it was hard. She didn’t even realize how stressful it was until two months after quitting the force. Now she’s a housewife and hasn’t even started looking for work yet, wants to master the language first.

Before coming to Germany, Süle lived in Slovenia for 4 years. But then it all went downhill there, too. “The economy is really bad there now. You can work any job and you get 400 euros and the rent is 500. What do you do?” Joined the Euro too soon. Süle also knows Romania and finds Bucharest beautiful. She stayed there in a five-star hotel once. She totally liked the people, they were all kind. She even learned how to say “Ce faci?” and she’s giggling, all proud of herself.  She also speaks English and Serbo-Croatian. Her broken German is actually quite good considering she has picked it up “just like that” from the street or playground.

Well, our time is over for today, and we are invited to get our children dressed. I try to make out the words as they cascade out of her mouth when she interacts with her children in Albanian. The only word that stands out is “Haide!” 🙂


Website Powered by

%d bloggers like this: