On Tandem, we help each other with languages and share knowledge about each other’s culture no matter where you are in the world. For Samija from Bosnia & Herzegovina and Jenny from Germany, their language exchange led them to meet in person.
For the first time, Samija was able to experience German culture in real life – and had some unforgettable experiences along the way. Here’s their story!
Samija learned English and German in school, and downloaded Tandem a few years ago to improve her skills in both languages. She met Jenny, a native of Stuttgart, Germany, whose mother came from Croatia. Because of this, Jenny wanted to learn Croatian, Serbian or Bosnian.
Soon Samija and Jenny were chatting regularly over Tandem. At first, they taught one another the basics in each other’s language, and really benefited from the mutual help they gave each other. Soon enough they were really good friends, and talked regularly about school, problems and daily life.
Yet Germany still seemed like a far-away place to Samija. “If someone had told me then that I would eventually fly to Germany to meet Jenny, I would probably not have believed it!” Samija explains.
But in January 2018, the dream became reality. Samija arranged to fly over to Germany and meet Jenny in person, and experience Stuttgart just like a local!
Both were a bit nervous before Samija’s arrival. Samija says: “When we met in person, I was a bit shy to speak German because I know that mine isn’t the best. But Jenny encouraged me and told me to speak anyway. Later, it became much easier, and somehow it took me less time to build a sentence in German… like magic!’
During the trip, Samija was able to experience many sides of Stuttgart. She enjoyed beautiful views and scenery, tasty German food, and hung out with Jenny’s friends. She explains: “I learned many facts about the city and the country, I learned new words in German and improved my skills, and many other things. But more importantly, I learned that the world is a small place. Now that we have the chance to travel anywhere in the entire world, I think we should use every opportunity to do it!”
Samija noticed quite a few cultural differences between Germany and Bosnia. “Germans are very hard-working”, she says, “while in Bosnia people are much more relaxed, particularly when it comes to work”. For Samija, Stuttgart will always have a special place in her heart, as it is the first place she has ever traveled to completely by herself.
As for her favourite moment of the trip, Samija remembers one special day particularly fondly. “Jenny told me one day that we will go to find a nice view. To be honest, I didn’t expect much. But when we got there, climbed up the hill and the amazing view opened up in front of us, I changed my mind. We sat there on a bench and it was an amazing feeling. On top of the world; looking at the valley and city around us; the clouds and sunshine. I wanted to stay there forever.”
Following her trip, Samija is even more keen to broaden her horizons with language learning. “When you live in a country as small as Bosnia & Herzegovina is, and when you speak only your mother tongue, you are able to communicate with only a few million people at most. But when you speak a language like English, you can speak to the entire world. Isn’t that cool? Learning any other language opens a whole sphere of new people to speak with, new places to visit or new cultures to meet.”
She would love to be able to invite Jenny to Bosnia someday, “to show Jenny Sarajevo and other places that I find interesting and give her back a piece of what she gave me when I was there”, says Samija.
We wish Samija and Jenny all the best and lots of fun in their language adventures!