We are delighted to have the dynamic team at Tribes Press writing exclusively for us on the 1st of each month. Their posts will engage, enthral and inspire readers and budding authors of all ages.
The Kapheus books are action packed and explores themes such as relationships, love, empathy and being happy with who you in an exciting and mythical setting.
This months post is a fascinating analysis by Claudia Bauch of what it was like to grow up as a child in Germany compared to Ireland.
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Between German precision and Irish serenity
Being a child seems to be similar in many cultures. As a child we want to feel safe, be wild, explore new things, love and play with our friends. When we are small, foreign countries seems so far away and another language sounds like secret code or made up gibberish. When we grow a little older, we move away from our usual surroundings and gain independence.
We start travelling, meeting new people and discovering that the world really is not that big.
We discover that the world offers us an infinite array of impressions, wonders, places to discover, cultures to explore and people to meet. Growing up in different cultures such as the Irish and the German culture means growing up with different traditions, a different language of course but beneath the surface of cultural norms and national celebrations we are not that different at all.
When I was growing up, school lasted for 13 years
In Germany, children start school at the age of 6 and when I was growing up, school lasted for 13 years. Before starting school, children have to do a test that examines their mental abilities to start school as well as examining their physical strength and ability. I remember that my younger brother had to attend something called Förderturnen, which are additional hours of PE, because he was unable to stand on one leg during his entry exam.
These activities will shape your personality
Around ten years ago, the German government decided to shorten the total school time from 13 years to 12 years. Germany seems to have a fear of being left behind and tries to catch up with their European neighbours. When I was in school, a normal school day started at 7.45am and ended at 1pm. This left me with free afternoons to do activities such as sports and music lessons. These activities will shape your personality and give you skills that you will have for the rest of your adult life.
It is a chance to meet people who have the same passion
For me it was always music that gave me the possibility to connect with people wherever I moved in the world. It is a chance to meet people who have the same passion and not feel alone when moving to a new place. Music is a universal language and I am very grateful that I have this skill. The change to a 12-year school system meant a huge upheaval for schools, teachers and students. Taking out an entire year of school meant increased hours every day spent in school and a great increase in workload. This is turn also meant that children lose that chance of engaging in activities outside school and spend most of their day in school.
Encouraged to be open to other cultures
Young people in Germany are encouraged to be open to other cultures and studying languages is an important part of our education. Germany is surrounded by many neighbouring European countries and learning languages is seen as an important basis for integration and competitiveness.
Experience a new culture, meet new people
With a 13- year school system, our 11th class was the last year before having the pressure of the leaving cert on us. Similar to the transition year in the Irish school system, this year was often used by students to go abroad, study for a year in America, UK or France, experience a new culture, meet new people and gain language skills that they would have for the rest of their life. With the 12- year school system this opportunity is now gone.
People are more willing to let you find you own way in life
Sometimes it seems that there is a rush to make children grow up and get as many certificates as possible on their, stating that they have certain skills. All the while, other life skills and getting a chance to develop into a complete person fall short. In Germany I often had the feeling that everything I did needed to be in a straight line. There always had to be a purpose behind everything I did, and the next step always had to be clearly planned out so that there is never a moment where you don’t know what you are doing.
Find you own way in life
In Ireland, I have the impression that people are more willing to let you find you own way in life. You are given the chance to explore something, try something and this frees the way to the great Irish entrepreneurship.
Divide between city kids and country kids
The landscape and the environment in Germany is quite different than in Ireland. We have big cities but also have preserved lovely countryside and natural areas. We only have the ocean in the very north of the country so instead of swimming in the sea we swim in lakes and rivers. I grew up hiking in the mountains and skiing in the winter. People that strived to build their own house moved to villages outside the busy cities. Therefore, in school there is always the divide between city kids and country kids.
We don’t even know that cows are not really purple!
Most days we played together as equal, however, that doesn’t mean that we didn’t take the chance to mock the country kids the odd time about being from the sticks. Vice versa, the country kids were well able to give it back. The most popular chocolate in Germany “Milka chocolate” is sold in purple wrappers with a purple cow on it. So, us city kids were often mocked that we don’t even know that cows are not really purple.
The stories children grow up with in different countries can be quite different
Listening to stories, reading books and hearing fairytales is a huge part of a child growing up and it’s the same in Germany. As stories and fairytales often have origins in older mythological legends, the stories children grow up with in different countries can be quite different. Children’s books and stories are also characterised by important authors of the country or authors that gained influence in the country.
Many more made me laugh, brought me off on wild adventures!
I grew up with stories from Erich Kästner, Astrid Lindgren (originally from Sweden) and fairytales from the Brothers Grimm. Children’s stories such as Emil und die Detektive (Emil and the detectives), Pippi Langstrumpf (Pippi Longstockings), Die Kinder von der Krachmacherstraße and many more made me laugh, brought me off on wild adventures, showed me that it’s normal to fight with your siblings and the importance of true friends.
We got to hear and read the stories from picture books and old story collections
The old Brother Grimm fairytales such as Rapunzel or Snowhite and the seven dwarfs and Hansel and Gretel are nowadays known to many children. Disney and other movie makers managed to retell these old stories so many times that children in all corners of the world have heard about the now famous characters. However, twenty years ago in Germany the television in my family home did not have enough channels to receive the Disney channel, so we got to hear and read the stories from picture books and old story collections.
Irish people are connected to the mythology of their country
However, it was in Ireland that an 8-year-old girl for the first time showed me a fairy ring and told me all about the fairies and the meaning of this special place. This is when I realized how Irish people are connected to the mythology of their country and how you can get a glimpse of the ancient stories from day to day.
It gives me the possibility to gain new perspectives and grow as a person
Moving to Ireland and having the chance to live in a new culture and really get to know it opened my mind up to many new things. It gives me the possibility to gain new perspectives and grow as a person. There isn’t one kind of German person or one kind of Irish person. Even when growing up in the same country, we are all individuals, unique in our own ways and our differences are something to cherish.