Yuri Igitov, 29 years old, is an Ukrainian doctor from Donetsk and has been in Germany since August. He attended a two-week German course for Ukrainian refugees at Carl Duisberg Centren in Cologne. In part 1 of our interview, he talks to us about his first impressions, the biggest challenges and typical German experiences.
1. Dear Yuri, how were your first days in Germany?
2. What was your first impression of the country and the people?
3. What has been the biggest challenge for you so far?
4. How do you like Cologne?
5. What is typically german for you?
I arrived in Frankfurt in mid-August and stayed with friends. My family is still in Ukraine. Since I found an apartment offer in Cologne, I came here. I live with a man who is very helpful. In 2012 I was already once in Germany for a short vacation in Bremen and a small town near Berlin. I liked that very much.
My impression is very positive. The Germans are totally helpful. Whether it's finding a place to live, learning German or finding a job with the Job Center, I get a lot of support. I appreciate that very much and would like to give that back somehow.
The bureaucratic processes in Germany are exhausting. A lot of things are very complicated. In Ukraine, we have an online program that takes care of everything. You don't have to make appointments and go there separately. It also takes a little longer at the banks in Germany. The other day I received a transfer, then it was weekend and a holiday – the money didn't arrive until Tuesday. And finding an affordable apartment is currently also a challenge.
Cologne actually reminds me a bit of my Ukrainian hometown, Donetsk. There is a lot of culture here, theater, the cathedral and historic places. I also like the nature. The villages in Germany seem very clean, almost idyllic. I could imagine living there. A cliché that's true: The beer here is delicious. ;-)
People in Germany are relaxed and enjoy their lives. They have a routine: They drink coffee in the morning, eat rolls on Sundays while reading the newspaper. In Ukraine we do things very quickly, everyday life is very stressful. Many have two jobs. I know some colleagues who have to work as salesmen or waiters in addition to their jobs as doctors. The Germans are also very sustainable and environmentally conscious. They recycle here. There are deposits and a special garbage can for each type of waste.