Being born in Germany to Turkish Parents
Young Turkish people in Germany
How it all started
So, where do I start with the story..?
My grandparents, from both of my parents side, came to Germany in the 70's. They were part of the so called 'Gastarbeiter' (guest worker), who all came to Germany to fill in the jobs, which Germany wasn't able to occupy. There were around 700.000 Turkish people at that time, who all came to Germany at approximately the same time. My grandparents also brought some of their children with them and after some time, more of their children came over to Germany. My mother and father came over, when they were around 14 years old.
I am not sure, when my parents got to know each other, but they married at 18 years old, which was some time around 1980. My oldest brother was born in 1983, my other brother in 1989 and finally me in 1993. We all went to school in Germany, my brothers both have German University degrees and I am on my way of obtaining my Linguistics degree.
Unfortunately I don't know too much about my parents early life in Germany, because they never really talked about it with me, but I am going to tell you my story as a 3rd generation Turkish kid,who was born in Germany.
As I stated before, I was born in 1993 in a small town in North Rhine Westphalia. In my years from 3-6, both of my parents were working, so my grandmother had to raise me. Unfortunately my grandmother wasn't able to speak German at all, so I was only able to speak Turkish from 2-4/5 years old. Due to my incapability of speaking German, I was really shy in kindergarten and basically never talked. Of course the kindergarten teachers would notice that, so they talked to my mother and basically asked her, if something was wrong with me. But the fact was that I was just shy and unable to speak German. At home I was a regular kid, goofing around, playing, talking to my turkish friends and enjoying my childhood. So my mother bought me a language learning notebook to increase my German language skills. Also my brother was teaching me in his offtime and also helped me to read and write in German. During those kindergarten years, my mother had a small Turkish shop in our town and she would sometimes bring snacks and other stuff for all the kids in my kindergarten. Everytime she paid the kindergarten a visit, the kids would go crazy and it was actually pretty sweet of my mom. Also the teachers and the other parents liked my mom, because a lot of people would go to the Turkish shop and were friends with her. My mother is really nice and a lovely human being!
Once I turned 6 years old and started school, my German language level was alright and I was able to communicate with my classmates. My parents put a high value into education and that is why they bought me a lot of books, motivated me to study at home and paid a lot of attention to how I was doing in school.
In my first 2 years of school, I wasn't doing too well. I wasn't bad, but also not good. My only real good subject was math. I was way better than anyone else and was able to use addition, subtraction, multiplication and division before anyone else in my class. Also my brain functioned very well with numbers and I would usually always win mental arithmatic contests. That made sense though, because I was only bad in the other subjects, because my German was still lacking. I remember once getting the worst grade in German, which made me cry for multiple hours.
After 2nd grade, I wanted to do better. So for the whole summer vacation time, I studied German. I read dictionaries, books and started only talking in German. When I arrived back in school for 3rd grade, my teacher made me read something out of a book and after I was done reading, she was astonished. I improved incredibly and in 3rd and 4th grade I was doing very well in every subject.
After finishing 4th grade in Germany, you have the option to go to 3 differnt types of schools. The first one is called 'Hauptschule', where basically all the kids go, who were not doing to well from 1st - 4th grade. Then 'Realschule', where all the kids go, who were doing allright and 'Gymnasium', where only the best students go to. Back in my day, our teacher from 1st - 4th grade had to write a recommendation letter, on which school would be the best for each student and I was recommended to go to 'Gymnasium'. That made me really happy at that time, because both of my brothers also went to that school and I was the 3rd to follow into their footsteps.
I was always trying to be as good as my brothers and saw/see them as role models for a lot of things. That was good motivation for me and once I finally started 5th grade, I was doing really well and I felt really good. My parents were proud of me and I showed a lot of interest in education in general.
From 1st - 4th grade, I actually didn't notice too many cultural differences between me and the other kids at school. I've had some other foreign kids in my class, but my best friends were German. I also spent a lot of time with them and as a kid, you don't notice that much of a difference. Even for holidays like christmas, my parents always made sure, that I got a gift like every other kid, which was really sweet, even though we are technically muslims. The good thing about my parents is, that they don't care too much about religion and they let everyone have their own beliefs. They don't mind what I like or what I do, aslong as I don't commit a crime or do something absurdly stupid. Sometimes they were strict with me, but overall I was able to do anything I've wanted during my childhood.
After finishing 5th grade, my grades started to drop a bit. I was having other interests and made some new friends, who were the 'cool' kids. So I was part of them and usually as a 'cool' kid, you don't pay that much attention to your grades. Once I was in 7th/8th grade, I was in puberty and my life had turned around. I didn't care at all about my studies anymore, hung around with my friends most of the time, played sports, played way too many games, showed interest in girls and my life went -'crazy'. My grades were pretty bad overall, which made my parents really mad, because all they cared about was me having good grades. They provided me with anything I've wanted, as long as I had good grades. Everytime I came home with a bad grade, they would tell me that in order for me to have a good life, I have to do good in school. They wanted me to succeed, so I could fit in in Germany and enjoy the perks of having a good job.
Even though my grades were mostly bad, they still got me everything I've wanted, because they weren't able to say no to me. I have to say, I feel sad now thinking about it, because I pretty much have disappointed my parents at that time.
Most foreign parents, especially Turkish ones, have a pretty bad reputation in Germany when it comes to rasing their children. You hear a lot of things on the news, from other people you know and see how bad it is for some foreign kids. Due to their bad childhood, they don't get the same oppurtunities as German kids and they end up with bad jobs and redo the same mistakes their parents did. I don't really know why these parents behave that way, but I think it has to something do with them not being happy with their life in Germany. A lot of foreign people don't feel welcomed in Germany, because Germans sometimes tend to be really unfriendly to foreigners, especially if they are not capable of speaking German too well. Of course most Germans are not that way, but if you experience racism against you, even though you are living in the country and raising your children in that country, it makes you really sad and angry. People also tend to see only the bad and never the good things. So if a lot of people are always friendly to you and care about your heritage and culture, you enjoy it, but as soon as a couple of people come up to you and call you names, because of your heritage, your whole perception swifts. Racism is something I've never really understood, but have seen for my whole life. That is something, which has to change in Germany and my parents made sure, that I don't experience as much of that, so they did the best so I could fit into the German culture.
As soon as 9th grade started, I tried to be better in school. I took more care of my studies and tried to find a balance between alright grades and having a lot of fun. I actually succeeded in accomplishing that for half a year and then got bored of school again. To be honest, I didn't really care about the topics we had in school. It was basically always the same and we talked so much about the World War II, that I felt like I was part of it. In some ways, it is pretty good that this topic gets discussed a lot and that teachers show you how bad the Germans screwed up in the past, but after having the same topic for 4-5 years, it gets really boring. The weird thing about all that is, that people still become racist, even though they are being taught on a daily basis, how bad the Germans screwed up in the past. It doesn't really make sense to me.
The only interest, which I kind of had, was to languages. I don't really know why, but maybe it has something to do with the cultural differences that I've experienced over my life. Sometimes my grades in German, English and Latin were suprisingly good and these subjects were actually fun sometimes.
10th grade, I only cared about passing, because I knew that I wanted to keep going to school from 11th - 13th grade, so I could eventually go to university after. I've passed 10th grade with bad grades, but I didn't care. Also, I've started to skip school a lot and always found an excuse for my parents, why I didn't go to school on that day.
Our teachers always told us that 11th-13th grade would be way different than the grades before. It was supposed to be way harder and only for the best students,etc..
11th-13th grade were a joke. I spend more time not going to school than going to school and still passed every class. My grades were pretty bad overall, but I was fine with it, because I knew that my grades would not matter for the University I wanted to go to.
During that time I became older and saw more changes, differences between the Turkish and German culture. We only had a couple of foreign kids at our school left and I sometimes felt really weird about the interests that my German friends had. Since my school was in a fairly small town, there was basically nothing for younger people to do other than drinking. I joined them sometimes, but I wasn't a big drinker. To this day, I don't like being drunk or under the influence of drugs. I rather keep a straight mind and enjoy my time sober. But during that time from 16-19, the best thing for my friends to do, was getting drunk. The coolest guy was the one who drank the most. I didn't really get it and still don't really understand it, but that is a big part of German 'culture'. German people love to get drunk and once they are drunk, most of them talk a lot of nonesense. Don't get me wrong, a lot of my current foreign friends, who grew up in Germany, also love to get drunk, but it is different with Germans. Especially the ones, who are from smaller towns and don't have that much experience with foreigners. Whenever German people see me drinking, they ask me if I am allowed to drink, because of my religion. They don't do it in a way of showing interest, but rather in a way of making fun of me. That happend a lot of times and at some point, I got tired of it and basically stopped going out with them.
Also another thing that happend a lot to me, was that many German people told me that I am not like the other Turkish kids. It kind of makes sense, because I was one of the few, who was going to a better school, wasn't religious, wasn't patriotic in any way, but the question always bothered me. Why would someone give me a compliment, because I wasn't like my fellow Turkish people. What is so good or bad about it? Another one of my favorite questions is/was ' Do you feel more German or more Turkish?' I don't know??? How does it feel to be German or Turkish, what does that even mean. It's not like I wake up in the morning and say to myself ' it's is nice to be German/Turkish'. I don't care, I mostly feel like shit after having to wake up way too early, to do something, which I don't really care about. Anyways, I still get these questions from time to time and basically just start laughing when I hear them.
Also during that time, my town became more violent, because there were quite a few right wing people and quite a few foreign kids. On special occasions in my town, both groups would usually go to the same party, because there was nothing else to do, get drunk there and start fights. At that time, I haven't had that big of a connection to the foreign kids, but I've heard a lot of gossip. They beat up each other with bottles, bats and got into multiple fights over the months. The only difference that both groups had, was basically their nationality. Other than that, they did the same exact things (Football, Alcohol, Girls). Whenever I heard something about the fights, I felt glad not going out, because I don't want to be in fights. I just want to chill and have a good time. Especially having a fight for a dumb reason like racism, is just stupid in my eyes.
Anyways, people saw me less and less in school, some of my teachers actually didn't even know me, because I would only show up for exams. My parents and friends got worried about me. My father once asked me, if the reason why I was not going to school or out on the weekends, was because I had no friends. I started laughing and told him, that I do have a lot of friends, which was true, but I just didn't feel like going out, because most of the things were stupid. School was extremely boring and not hard, even though I am not smart at all. The activities of my friends were mostly based on drinking and talking rubbish, which I was also not that big of a fan of. So I rather stayed at home and played video games, chilled with my brothers, messaged some people and everything was good. Another big factor was that most of my friends, actually all of them, were German. Don't get me wrong, I like German people, but I hated being only with Germans. They were too many situations, where I was the only foreign kid and they started talking smack about foreigners. It felt disgusting and not right. They mostly saw me as one of them, but I didn't really felt like one of them. I also didn't really feel like a foreign kid, but everything was just weird.
For the 1st semester in 12th grade, I started caring again and did pretty well. I also decided to go out more and met some new friends, who were German, but also hung out with foreigners. Going out started to make fun again, because I had a great time with them. The group consisted of people with various nationalities and everyone was cool with each other. We talked about differences between cultures, made funny racist jokes to each other (just for fun) and drank a lot. But it was a lot different than the friendships I've had before. Everything was really chill and fun. Everyone was respected and people had each others backs. I still have these friends to this day and they are still considered my best friends.
Unfortunately, not a lot of people find friends like these in Germany. Especially in smaller towns, where people mainly hang out with people of their nationality. In my opinion, that is the worst thing you can do. If you only meet up with people like you, you start talking shit about others, without even knowing them. I know a lot of Turkish people, who are only around other Turkish people, who talk smack about Germans all day long. The same from German people. That is a huge problem and makes everything a lot worse in Germany. It is also a big reason why I do understand that people don't feel well in Germany. Foreigners usually claim that they never had the oppurtunity to get to know German people, which is sometimes true, but usually isn't. The other way around, Germans claim that foreigners don't want to be friends with them or want to learn about the German culture, which is also true in some cases, but is generelly wrong.
Luckily, newer generations are more open to diversity, but the problem still is, that racism is on the rise in Germany. Now you might ask 'How?'. It is easy. There are a lot of stupid parents, who raise their kids in stupid ways. On both sides. They make their kids become racist or at least infuence them. Right wing parties right now are gaing a lot of popularity and it is just really sad.
2nd semester of 12th grade, I barely went to school again and spent most of my time in front of the PC and with my friends. School was getting really annoying, because most of my teachers were trying to scare us with upcoming final exams and I was just not about that life. Over the course of 13 school years, I've had some amazing teachers, but most of them were straight up bad. They either stopped caring or were just incapable of teaching. Some teachers were made fun of and they didn't do anything about it. They just took it and gave the kids the upper hand. Without wanting to one of those kids, but they were actually some teachers, who were straight up racist. Some of them a little bit more, some a little bit less. But there were a lot of instances, where everyone just knew that the teacher would give someone a worse grade, just because he was foreign. But that is another topic for another day.
13th grade came a long and my classmates were wondering, if I would be able to pass the grade. Not because I am extremely stupid, but more because I was barely at school. One time, I got into a small argument with a female friend of mine in class, because I always distracted her from paying attention to the teacher, and she went kind of mad and told me that she will have sex with me, if I pass the grade. She was really sure that I wouldn't be able to make it and to be honest, it gave me some motivation to study. Spoilers: I've passed 13th grade and she hasn't kept her promise.
13th grade was mostly weird, because it was my last year in school and I wasn't too sure what I wanted to do after. Also I failed one of the final exams extremely hard, which made me depressed for a couple of days, because I wasn't too sure if I would be able to pass the 13th grade. Luckily, I've passed 13th grade barely and was fine with everything. Our last week at school was probably the best week of school I've ever had, because we had a lot of fun and I knew that school life was over. I was sure that I would study after at a university, but university life to school life is way different. I am still friends with some of the people from school, but I haven't seen the majority of them ever since. That is just how life goes.
I went to University in Tübingen for one week, wasn't able to find an apartment and came back to my parents place after. I was really mad at that time, because I wasn't able to move out of my parents place and start my university life. So I waited for half a year, enjoyed my time with my friends and then moved to Paderborn, to study linguistics there. Paderborn is pretty close to where my parents live, so my friends from my home town were always around, which was really good.
That was in 2013, it is 2019 right now and I am still not finished with my degree. You might ask yourself, how is that possible? I still have the atitude of not going to school, which by now is really bad. I am almost done with my degree right now, but it took way too much time. I wouldn't say that I've wasted all these years, but I kind of wasted some time. Throughout these years, I made a lot of experiences, got to know a lot of new people, lived on my own, lived with friends, saw more shit happening around me and am basically a wiser man than before. I still lack discipline and intelligence, but I am getting here.
In 2018 I made the best decision of my life. I've talked a lot to one of my female friends from back in school and she had been basically everwhere, told me about her experiences in foreign countries, etc. And I wondering what it would be like, if I lived in another country for a period of time. I went to my University, looked up the places where I could go to as an exchange student and saw Tokyo,Japan. I apllied a couple days after, had to hand in way too many forms,etc and after approximately 1 year, got accepted to the Sophia University in Tokyo.
Right now ( end of 2019), I am finally in Tokyo, have been living here for almost 3 months now and met a lot of new people. Sophia University is a international University, where half the students are from Japan and the other half are from countries all over the world. I also live in a international dorm and have met people with the craziest ethnicities. People are half Mexican, half Japanese or half Pakistani, half Korean or other nice combinations. I pretty much know people from every country now and consider most of them as friends. We learn about each other on a daily basis, we talk about our culture, our language, what life is like in our countries and everyone shows mutual interest in each other. It is the best experience I've had in my life, there is no racism what so ever and everyone is cool with eachother. In Japanese class I sit next to my Australian friend, who's parents are from Korea, but who grew up in Australia and talks like it. Behind me sits my boy from Indonesia, who went to a international school and knows a bit of German aswell. Whenever we have to work together in groups, we teach each other swear words in our native language and talk shit about each other. It is an amazing experience.
And that is something, I recommend everyone to do at least once in their life. Go somewhere, where you don't know anyone and where you have to meet up new people from different countries. It is impossible to be racist after an experience like that and you will appreciate different cultures a lot more.
Sorry for my long text and all the mistakes, I wrote this in pretty much one take. Now I have to start writing a book about ' How to swear in different Languages'. It's gonna be fun.
Tldr: Parents turkish, born Germany. Racism everywhere. Germans and foreigners are weird. I am lazy. Japan and diversity is great.