My name is Maha Fityani, I am 20 years old and I am currently an intern in the marketing department of Mercedes-AMG in Affalterbach/ Germany.
You might wonder how I got here. I got this opportunity by submitting my CV to an organization called the Young Arab Leaders who is partner with Daimler in order to offer Arab youth internships and giving us a chance to take a closer look at different, multi-cultural work environment. I got accepted after a phone interview made by Daimler, I honestly thought I would never make it. But I am here now; I am in the lovely Stuttgart. I’ve been here for almost three months now, and I will be leaving for Amman (my hometown in Jordan) in about two weeks.
And retrospective, I would like to call those past three months the “Experience of a lifetime”.
To me, those three months were like a challenge. First of all, it was the first time in my life that I got separated from my twin sister, friends, and family. Secondly, I was going to a country with different culture and traditions, without speaking a word of German.
My first working day, was not very special, I just had a look around, got introduced to some of my colleagues and everything looked promising. After a couple of weeks things started to clear up to me, but I felt like an outsider and realized how drastically different things are in Europe and Germany. The feelings of frustration made everything even worse.
I remember when my team and I went to work over a weekend in Hockenheim at the Formula 1… All I felt before going there was the excitement to finally show my colleagues the other side of me, other than the shy and silent face, because that actually isn’t me! Seeing everybody getting along with each other made me, again, feel like an outsider and this time I didn’t do anything about it and therefore it back-fired on me. I was helpless and weak there, and those feelings along with the language problem made me freeze. I couldn’t do my job perfectly or mingle with the rest, and deep down inside I felt like I failed. After the return, my superiors noted that something wasn’t going the right way. We had a meeting, talked about my work and talked about my actions; it was more of constructive criticism, and to be honest, without that meeting this experience wouldn’t have been as rich as it is now. I decided to start making more effort, didn’t want to disappoint them or myself anymore. It definitely was the turning point during my trip to Germany!
In the “post-meeting time” – that’s now – everything is clearer. I am more confident and aware of what to do and what not to do. Its like the internship just started, after a month and a half I actually tried a new start. My work has improved, I get more interesting tasks, my social skills are building up and I am regaining strength and my life is almost back on track. And now towards the end I can see what has changed about me and how certain people here inspire me in a peculiar way…
The outcome: feelings of loneliness and fear have turned into inspiration and strength, failure and frustration have become the ability to accept criticism and wanting to make the best out of my mistakes and learn from them. Seeing how professional my colleagues are, makes me realize that the sense of being professional I have gained is related to watching their responsibility, their time management and their actions. The perfectly done tasks I hand in are just a copy of their perfectly-done work! Generally, I am grateful!
Dealing with a new culture and new people wasn’t easy at all, but it surely was rewarding! Being honest, I can’t just say its right or it’s wrong, because it’s just different! I come from a world where most of people are emotional, and now I am in a different one, where people aren’t emotional. This has taught me something I would never think of if I stayed back home, it’s when you should be emotional and when you shouldn’t.
This exposure has made me the person I am today. And I am proud of have been given this opportunity to work here with my German colleagues whom I deeply admire and whom I hold dear to my heart. Every one of them has a special place in my heart. You helped me a lot in every single step I took. When I look back at those three months, it makes me sad because I will miss you guys and I will miss our little quick meetings, I will miss every single day I had something new to learn… the paper jams too! But I am happy about whom I became, and that I had this once-in-a-lifetime chance to meet you, Ich bin glücklich, euch als Kollegen zu haben…Thank you for everything; you have been my inspiration…