Greta Schäfer

  City of Birth:
Pocking, Germany

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My Entire Life
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Greta's Story > Chapters > My Entire Life

"Going Home " 


Date Range: 01/01/1983 To 07/08/2008   Comments: 2   Views: 4,041
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They always say you can't go home again right? In Germany it's different from my friends in America. We stay longer with our families and it's perfectly normal. We also have much smaller houses so we are in each other faces more. But also lots of young people go to uni and also do internships or apprentices, much different than USA. Here you rather have to choose your occupation by around age of 18 and start to train for that in school. No floundering around in uni for four years with a degree that is not efficient. This are merely pointing out differences in societies, not judgments. There are good and bad to both.

Anyway, by the time a child is around 18, s/he must start thinking about a career or vocation. All kids will get into school at some point. The trick is tests to know what school (better vs. ok schools) and when. You can be delayed while more advanced kids pass you. But eventually everyone can go. This is much different than the private school systems elsewhere.

One friend went into hotel management, so she went to do a two year apprenctice program at a hotel in another city. She lived in the hotel dorms and worked there while studying some classes too. It's really hands on. The problem is when you decide in the middle you don't like your decision (made at 18 mind you) it's hard to change paths. Another friend went far away to eastern Germany to do a training in pipe laying, such as done for building buildings and cities.

So in some ways we grow up faster. In other ways we are a little more sheltered.

I left home at 19 to attend uni in engineering. There still aren't as many girls as boys and probably never will be but all students are encouraged to work at what they are good at regardless of outside things like gender or social status.

I lived in the dorms, and I went home almost every weekend. My parents live in the same flat they've always lived in in Burscheid. A quiet little street with potted plants in all the windows and little overhangs that nosy neighbours can look outside and gossip about what time you came home and tell your mum and pop.

the main street in Burscheid

When I first left, I was really scared. And excited. My mother had always done everything for her children - washing, clothes, cleaning, cooking. This looking back was not a good thing and as my grandmother used to scold her she was spoiling us. I had no idea how to live on my own. Luckily in the dorms for school you learn quickly.

My first class was in the evening and I was only one of maybe 5 girls in a whole room of boys. They were still immature and used to throw things at us and pull our hair. We of course then liked the older boys who were more mature and stood around discussing philosophy and smoking cigarettes. Not like the buffoons in our first class.

The first time I went home my mum was so happy to see me she cooked a bigger meal than I'd ever seen. The dorms had food but nothing like mum's cooking. I ate so much I fell asleep right after. When I woke up, she had all my clothes washed and ironed and folded. I hugged her because she's a great mum.

The whole time I was home they kept asking me how things were and did I like my studies and my professors. I told them all about classes and the people I was meeting. I felt very warm and cozy and secure and loved. But then a funny thing happened. I wanted to escape. I wanted to get back to MY life and start living the life making it on my own, making my own decisions and not sharing every intimate detail.

I started skipping coming home more and more. My mum never said anything but I knew she was hurt. She'd send me packages full of baked goods and little things she thought I might like and need. I would call her and we'd spend time on the phone talking about everything. I felt like I became closer to her during this time, because she told me things I never knew about her. I knew that she however felt she was losing her only daughter. I felt bad but I still wanted to live my own life.

When my marriage disintegrated, my mother offered me to move back into their apartment. But by then they had FINALLY filled up my old bedroom with a craft room for my mum's hobbies. They would gladly make up my room again for me, and I know they'd welcome me home with open arms, but so much had changed, I knew I couldn't. There would be no shame. Many inter-generational families live together in Germany and no one thinks anything of it. There is no looking down upon that if someone moves back home. But I chose not to and feel better for it. I still see my parents as often as I can and they get to live their life and I live mine.

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Member Since
Aug 2007
Gina Pertonelli said:
posted on Aug 24, 2009
separate lives

I think it's really comforting to know you can always go somewhere. It's probably a bit disconcerting when theyr'e not there any more. The closest I have is my bf's family. They make up where mine left off. But let's hope we are never in a place where we have to, but only if we want to.

Member Since
Jun 2008
Namiko Smith said:
posted on Aug 26, 2009
Hi Greta!

Glad to hear from you. :)
You are lucky that you have a family to go back.
I don't talk with them at all, but I see good sides out of it.
Less drama or trouble in my life.
I am perfectly ok with it. I guess becuase I have never had "family" in my life, I don't know what I am missing..