We’ll be going back to America soon, and honestly, one question I get a lot from Americans is “so…how are the refugees affecting you?”. For me, it is a bit strange, because not long ago, I was in something of their situation. When we came here four years ago, I didn’t know much German, and not much more about the culture. Since then, I have learned about both. I can’t compare myself to the people flooding Germany now, though, because in a lot of cases, they have come through hell to get there, and came being totally ignorant of both culture and language. The majority are non-Christian, coming from non-European countries. For me, it was a culture shock seeing a man casually peeing in public. For them, seeing a woman in pants is unfamiliar in some cases.
I think for them, the key is going to be the same as it was for me. Learn the language and the culture, but don’t feel like you have to lose your own in the process. But accept that you are not living in your native country and that stuff will be different and ain’t going to change for you. This takes some patience, open-mindedness, humility, and a dash of courage. Both on the part of the newcomers and the residents.
I can’t lie, it seems to be easier for Christians, especially Catholics, than non-Christians. Germany is formally a Christian country. There are churches all over, and by the Church’s nature, they are heavily involved in the relief effort. For my German parish church, we don’t care if you are Christian, Muslim, agnostic, whatever – you need help, we’ll help. But for Catholics, the ritual of Mass is the same worldwide, and is a definite comfort to the refugees.
Germany is working to get the bureaucratic wheels turning fast enough to keep up with the flood of refugees, but bureaucracy does not hurry at the best of times. They are throughly investigating the refugees flooding in nice they get settled. From what I am seeing, Germany and Europe will benefit from the refugee situation, however, it will not be an overnight thing. Patience all around will be needed.