Today we have a story of my friend Swastika Kharel who is a Gynaecology practitioner, she is sharing the story of her journey in Germany. I know her since 2011 and we have been good friends since then. We have seen each other during our hard and good days and we would like to share with you all about her life lessons in her own words. We would feel fortunate if we could inspire a single person from our experiences.
Please tell us about your childhood? What kind of person were you and have you changed?
About Childhood, hmm in short my childhood was good. I have a brother who is only about two years younger than me. We both were given the same opportunities, love and support through our parents. As a child I didn’t talk much, I use to observe people, nature, stare at the stars at night, was a very much dreamy kind of person. I was only a child when I learned some life lessons like sometimes you need to learn to say no and we need to wake up from dreams and work for it to make it come true.
Well I don´t think that I have changed much!
1. Who or what is the source of inspiration in your life?
My parents are my greatest source of inspiration. Whoever I am today it’s all because of them. They allowed me to dream big and move towards my goals and wishes without doubting. As a child I always wanted to be a doctor. My aim never changed. Some people said you would not be able to achieve it, some said that I am a daughter n should get married after grade 12 and be happy with a family and forget about being a doctor. Other people had many reasons to try to convince me as to why my dreams or aims were too big to achieve. When I heard such opinions it made me a little sad and talked about it with my parents and they told me that I should believe in myself, work hard and follow my dreams, they were the ones who taught me never to give up, give up on myself. There love and support have always been my greatest strength and inspiration.
2. Tell us about your journey in Germany so far away from my home country?
After grade 12 was trying for a scholarship to study medicine in Nepal, an education consultancy contacted me and told me we have a scholarship program to study medicine in Germany, at that moment I felt like this is perhaps my destiny. I went there to gather more information. At first they told me that the whole course will be in the German language. I felt like what…? And thought maybe I couldn‘t do it, they told us that it’s very similar to the English language, only the pronunciation is different. After that I thought to give it a try. I told about my plan to my parents and they agreed immediately. I was lucky to have met Sandip Sir who helped me with the paperwork to apply for the University and after a year I was in Germany to start my new journey. Later I realized that education in Germany is free, also we need to pay only a semester fee which varies in different States (200- 600 Euros per Semester)
3. What has been your greatest lesson or difficult situation and how have you dealt with it?
The first challenge was being independent. I have never had cooked at home and then suddenly was on my own and needed to study, cook for oneself, manage finances and daily chores. This part of being an adult was quite a challenge at first. I still remember the first time I got ill in Germany, I cried like a little baby as I missed my mummy so much because back home she would have made a nice chicken soup for me and brought it in bed and took care of me. Then I realized how I had been taking everything for granted back home. All the little things, little gesture of care and love makes a big difference. Then I started becoming more grateful for what I have. Finding a part time job and adjusting to the work and people was also a difficult aspect. At first when I came here I had an inferiority complex, and felt like Germans are perfect in every aspect (disciplined, hard working, punctual, intelligent etc.. ). As I came in more contacts with them, I started realizing that they all are equally as human as I am and all do have some weak points and no one is perfect. Overcoming this inferiority complex was very difficult for me, but through communication, more trust in myself and through hard work was able to overcome this feeling.
4. Have you met someone during your stay in Germany who has inspired you?
Yes I have met some inspiring people here in Germany. And mostly Rajan had inspired me to become realistic or say practical. I am an optimist and sometimes not so rational, he sometimes forced me to see the realistic part of the situation and then make my decision. He is really honest about his opinions and ideas and sometimes it hurts a lot. But it is the right thing to do. For eg: I had an exam and wasn‘t prepared for it, but was willing to give the exam, he compelled me to get a sick leave n not appear for exam because in Germany you have three chances and Pass Mark is 60% so if you fail these three chances you can be ex-matriculated, so it‘s wiser to take exams only if we are prepared. At first when he advised me not to appear for the exam I felt like he was demotivating me and didn‘t trust me. Later on I realized it was good advice and not a way to demotivate me.
5. How has your student life been here?
I came here and gave „aufnahmeprüfung“ (admission exam into the University) and thought after it, will join the University directly, but no we had to do Studienkolleg at first. It is like a school where everything is taught in German. I had M-Kurs for Medicine and here we studied bio, chemistry, math Deutsch, physics all in German as in school. With the final grades from Studienkolleg, grade 12 and School Leaving Certificate from Nepal we had to again apply for the University and if grades were enough we would get approved in University. As you can see it was a long process at first language than studienkolleg, it needs a lot of patience . While I did part time job I earned about 600-800 Euros which was just enough to survive, but some of the Nepali students did earn more like 1000-1200 and they got caught up in earning so much that they lost their aim of being a doctor, started performing ill in exams and some of them got ex matriculated. So it‘s very important not to forget your goal. University and work, I had hardly any time for hobbies or something else. Student life was quite hard.
6. What message do you want to send to the students who want to pursue Medicine in Germany or anywhere?
It is a long journey which is not easy. We need to have patience and never give up and try to handle the situation in a clever way. Its difficult but not impossible. Not only me but there are now many Nepali doctors in Germany who have studied here. And lastly I would want to wish u all, all the best in every step of your life. And remember failure is the stepping stone to success so never give up.
7. Please share your success story even if you are in the initial stage of your career.
I have started working in Gynaecology as a junior doctor in Frankfurt. Unlike in Nepal here we start the residency with the work but it takes more time than in Nepal. It feels like yesterday that I came to Germany with eyes full of dreams and on 06.02.2020 it has been 11 years! Well time flies, and I do not regret any of the decisions I have had made. All the experience I have had, all the struggles have only made me stronger. My father passed away in 2013 and could not see me achieve my goals but I hope that he is watching me from above and that I am making him proud.
At last but not the least no matter what others say just believe in yourself and follow your dreams.
“Don‘t let them pave a path of your life, you are the master of your destiny”