Learning German From Varanassi to Vienna

Suraj Kumar Rajak
Suraj Kumar Rajak | © Goethe-Institut / Max Mueller Bhavan New Delhi

It all started in the German Bakery: An interest in Germany, its language and its culture. Suraj Kumar Rajak is 23, he’s from Varanassi, and he just picked up her A-1 certificate at the Goethe-Institut / Max Mueller Bhavan New Delhi. Now he wants to continue studying in Europe.
Suraj’s story is a success story. An unusual success story. Because the young man comes from a large family from the countryside, where each day is first and foremost about surviving to the next. It’s also a place where a lot of value is put onto tradition and less is put onto education.

How did your family react to your plans to learn German?

They weren’t so enthusiastic. But you have to understand that my parents are simple people. My father is a farmer; my mother is a housewife. I have seven siblings. The idea of a good education is pretty abstract to them. That’s not the world they live in. On top of that, they’re wary of foreigners.
 
Did they support you?

They didn’t put any obstacles in my way. And I was allowed to go to school, one of three. My ambition was roused there. Then I absolutely wanted to go to college, to get a Bachelors.
 
And?

I moved into the city and looked for a job. I desperately needed money. I found a job at the German Bakery in Varanassi. And that’s where it all started.
 
Where what all started?

I met a lot of German people there. My boss is from Germany. Everything was new and exciting. The language, culture, social life, work ethic, the celebrations you have. I tasted blood. I travelled a lot with new friends, getting to know them and their culture.
 
And that’s why you wanted to start learning German?

Yeah. I thought it was all really enthralling and exciting. Slowly I became so enamored, that I just had to continue, I wanted to know more. I’d go online after work and read everything that I could find and take it all in.
 
What did you know about Germany at this point?

To be honest, not a lot. Just a little history. The World War, East and West…
 
And what about the Germans?

Not much more. But what I got to know, I really liked.
 
For example?

Your celebrations for example. Of course the food: pretzels and beer. Your reliability in any situation. Or your attitude towards time.
 
What do your plans look like?

I moved to Delhi to study German at the Goethe-Institut. I just picked up my A-1 certificate.
 
Congratulations! 

Thanks. I was really lucky. Here I work in the German Bakery here too, to be able to support my self. It all fits together wonderfully of course.
 
Do you think the language is hard?

I don’t actually. The grammar is not half bad. And the pronunciation is pretty challenging. Especially for us Indians. But I like the language a lot. And that’s why learning it is east for me.
 
What comes after A-1?

I just applied for a visa in Austria. I want to continue to learn German there. And to study social sciences. I’m always noticing more that we need to solve the problems around us by applying social sciences.