“I realized it’s going to be hard for me to apply for a student visa, because there were other requirements that I had overlooked, and in that moment I didn’t have them, so what I opted for was to come here as a volunteer. So I applied for a voluntary work visa, and then II moved to Germany.”
CA: Hi, everyone! My name is Chimee Adioha, and I’ll be talking to Mark Lutta. He is a Ugandan based in Cologne, Germany, and I’m very excited to be speaking to him. And today, we’ll be talking about Mark’s journey from Uganda to Germany and language acquisition especially, and a few other things that connect Mark to Uganda. Hi, mark!
ML: Hi! Thanks for having me.
CA: Thank you, Mark, for coming. I so much appreciate. And so, Mark, I did like a brief introduction. Would you like to say, if you just about yourself, that I didn’t mention that might be missing?
ML: Well, like you said. I’m a Ugandan. I’m based in Cologne, in Germany. I am 27 years old. I do have a bachelors in journalism and communication. I majored in communication, a Content Creator, and I’m doing my preparation course for my master’s degree that I tend to do.
CA: Perfect. Thank you so much, Mark. So, Mark, I would like to ask you, when did you move to Germany? And why did you do that big move from Africa to Europe
ML: So officially, I moved to Germany in 2021, but I had visited Germany before, and my intention to move to Germany was to further my career studies. So, when I visited Germany the first time, I was still in university, back home in Uganda, and when I moved. When I visited Germany, I thought I would come and do my masters here, because of the education system, and how it is designed like, if you go to a public institution here. It’s usually Tian free. You just have to pay a semester contribution. So, I had the attention to do that. But when I moved, when I went back to Uganda, I realized it’s going to be hard for me to apply for a student visa, because there were other requirements that I had overlooked, and in that moment, I didn’t have them, so what I opted for was to come here as a volunteer. So, I applied for voluntary work, visa, and then I moved to Germany as a volunteer and fast forward. I continued with the language class. I had started learning German when I was still in Uganda before. So, after my voluntary year of work, I continued learning German for 6 months, and then I enrolled into university, and then I dropped out, and I applied for a new course that I intend to start next month.
CA: Oh, nice! That’s some journey, that’s some journey, Mark, so you said something about first visit to Germany and then coming back to be like, looks like this is where I’m going to go. Oh, I’m going to go back to Germany. Did your visit to Germany the first time make you like, give you that excitement about coming back, about coming to stay more, about coming to do some education in Germany.
ML: Yes, because at the time when I was visiting, I met so many people who told me, oh, what you’re studying is, you could further your career here, because Cologne has, like, a number of media houses and also like it’s not far from Bonne where one of the biggest German TV stations is, which is which a villain. So, it’s like just the media, you know, area or district of Germany. So, for me, that’s what like really encouraged me. And just to use that chance to widen my scope of experience in this field.
CA: Yes, thank you so much, Mark, for doing that explanation. So, I also wanted to ask about, you said something about you. The language before; obviously, you speak German now. Correct?
ML: I do speak German. I’m comfortable with the language. I’m not very fluent, but I’m comfortable with the language.
CA: How long did it take you to learn German?
ML: So, I learned German. I started learning German in 2018, towards the end of 2018, and then I learned German, and in 2019, in June, and then I took a break, and then I came back to John. I need to visit again for that summer, and when I went back to Uganda I resumed again in October, so I would say in general, before moving to Germany officially, I learnt German like for one year, or maybe like 9 months. And then when I came to Germany, I enrolled again after my voluntary like for 6 months, so approximately one year and 3 months of German class, but not in one goal, like I used to take.
CA: I mean, you can. You can. You can pass through you can pass through as someone who can communicate in German. I believe that has made you feel more comfortable, more relaxed, more engaged, or like more belonged to the community or to the society that you find yourself in, which I think it’s very exceptional. I mean, it’s not very easy as an African who has a very particularly different language structure. If it’s a lovely scheme. Another question I wanted to ask you is – how do you presently or how do you constantly connect to home? How do you constantly connect your home country, as someone who has left Africa, who has left Uganda, although you still visit. And how has it been for you? How do you connect back to home? And how do you detach? What’s the feeling like? What has been the experiences of moving? of migration? not being at “the home”
ML: Yeah, that’s an interesting question. So, there are a number of things that I miss about home, first is my friends and family that I talk to very often, like I’m always, but I call them, to check on them, they check on me. So, it’s just basically keeping in touch. And also, I do consume a lot of Ugandan media like on social media, on Facebook. So, I’m following, like, you get on content creators, Ugandan media houses. So, I do receive news that is happening in Uganda. And I’m up to date about the things that I have been in back home. But also, I’ve managed to meet new guys and friends here. So, I do have new friends, and friends who also live here in Cologne, and we meet, you know, often, and we hang out and just play music, also, like, prepare some dishes.
But basically, that’s what I do like to, you know, like, yeah, so is there like a community that is there, like a Ugandan community in Cologne and other parts of Germany. But the biggest, I think the biggest is in Berlin, and I think there’s also one that is in Munich. So yeah, there you go and see I there.
CA: Yeah, perfect. Thank you. So, I also wanted to ask you another question. How do you feel about Uganda as a place or as a community or as a society, considering the fact that you have moved and you have, like a multiple or 2-way experience. Africa and Europe, Uganda and Germany.
ML: So, what I mean, there’s similarities, and like very huge differences when it comes to attitudes towards such things. So, I would give an example; just like something very simple. And I had just moved to Germany,
on my Tiktok, I used to see many people give their experiences about making friends in Germany and the community here, when it comes to like making friends, people are a bit more careful and slower about it. So, I’ve realized that some Germans will take their time to accept you as their friend. I will give you an example. I do have someone I consider my friend, we work together, but hung out all the time. They’ve been to my place; I have been to their place. We’ve gone to parties and concerts together, and things like that, but when they get me to the other friends they introduce me as their work colleague, not as their friend. While for me, I introduce them as my friend. So, you don’t know, as much as we do these things together, the things that friends do. They probably haven’t reached that level of, you know, considering me as their friend, which is also okay. I totally understand. It’s how their social setting is. That is different. In Uganda, you meet someone twice and you are friends and things like that. So, there’s like much of a difference, but also in terms of how like the society is organized, the things that I see. And I’m like, oh, I wish this was available like, back home, like, simple things like health care is for everyone yet to have health insurance in Uganda, you need to have money. Exactly. So, we even know what exactly education is like. There are very many ventures that you could do, and you don’t necessarily have to go to university to have a comfortable life there, opportunities for vocational training, where you could improve your skills in whatever field you want, and it might, it will not cost you. I wish, some of these opportunities where they in Uganda. But unfortunately, we haven’t yet reached that level.
CA: So, do you have to do something back home, to make an impact back home, to send something back home. Do you feel that pressure? Not actually money, no. But do you feel the pressure that you’re supposed to make an impact back home as someone who has moved, as someone who is now in the diaspora, as someone who is in Germany. Do you? Is there like a politics of pressure that allows you to like, be like, okay, I need to send something back home. I need to do something back home. I need to send money, if possible, if money has to be.
ML: I don’t necessarily feel pressure to do that. I just feel some sort of responsibility to just sort of like, create awareness like us having this conversation now and talking about it so like the more you talk about something than what it becomes, you know. I just feel like If more, you are going have the opportunity to maybe come and see what’s happening here. Maybe if they went back, they would also like add on the voice and things like that, and just call for social change, you know, in within the country. But I don’t necessarily feel the pressure to make a huge change.
CA: Yeah, perfect. Thank you. So, one last question, if it’s going to be the last. It’s what is your idea about immigration? What’s your personal idea about immigration?
ML: I would say. Immigration is a 2-way street. So, I think, my, I’ll just talk about my personal experience in Germany. I feel like, most of the time, when you go into a new society. It’s up to you. It’s upon you to learn the language and respect their values and things like that. But of course, I feel like, if this society has opened up that door for you to come in, they should also be willing to accept you as who you are. Your values and things like that I think sometimes brings about like some sort of collision when people expect you to just lean towards their culture. And then, when you want to, maybe, like, talk about your culture and things like that, they don’t really understand, so as much as I’m coming into your society and contributing to its development through different ways, it’s also a responsibility that you have to accept me, and you don’t expect me to leave my culture and all those things, you know, at the door. So just that, yeah. That’s my view on immigration. I think it’s like a two-way street, like, yeah.
CA: Thank you so much, Mark. So, you create content about travel. And it’s exciting what I see. And I’m I was. Yeah. I was trying to find out what? What are your motivations and the experience? How you do that? What has it been like for you? What I mean is that it’s something that you like. It’s also what you do for fun. What has it been like so far for you especially doing this in in a country that is not originally your country.
ML: I know, and so growing up in Uganda, I didn’t know I would have the opportunities that I have now to go to different countries, and now living here in Germany as you know, as a resident of Germany. I have the opportunity to go to 27 countries without a visa, just with my German residence card, and I’m like, oh, this is an opportunity that I didn’t have growing up. So now I am going to utilize it. I’m going to visit every place that I can, and because of that, I’m like, okay, I have to, you know, it started out like me, just like posting and sharing for my friends and family, just like to have them updated on what I see. And then other people interested, and I’m like okay. And the funny thing is that some of my colleagues where I work, they’re like, oh my gosh! “You’re always travelling! I was born here, but I’ve never been to Berlin” and it’s the capital of Germany. So, I think it’s also like passion, like, you have to be interested. Yeah. So, there are people who have the means, like people who are born here, and they’ve grown up here, but they just don’t want to, not make it their cup of tea. But for me it’s an opportunity to that, I see.
CA: Yeah, thank you. Thank you. Thank you so much, Mark. It was so nice talking to you, speaking to you, learning from you. I so much I appreciate. Thank you so much.
ML: Thank you so much for having me. I appreciate the opportunity.
CA: You’re welcome
This transcript was produced to fulfill a part of our accessibility policy
Interviewer: Chimee Adioha
Interviewee: Mark Lutta
Transcriptionist: Karanja Wangari