Just give it a go!
“I’ve become pretty German,” says Hasnaa Sarroukh with a smile. The Morocco- born physicist has been living in Berlin since 2002 and works for OSRAM in Specialty Lighting. She has a family with two daughters, and she really enjoys the work she does with her team of colleagues and developing HID automotive lamps. Hasnaa has settled into Berlin well and has even obtained German citizenship. But it was not easy: it took a lot of time and energy, the courage to take risks – and a willingness to leave her personal comfort zone.
That’s because when Hasnaa left France to come to Berlin in 2002, she barely knew anything about Germany, “and I didn’t speak a word of German.” She left Morocco to study in France, where she went on to complete a PhD. The language and culture there were familiar to her, as were the professional and private environments at the university. Germany was supposed to be an adventure: Hasnaa wanted to freelance in a research project at OSRAM, limited to a period of 18 months. But with her open manner and her courage to explore unknown territory, many of her colleagues became supporters: “They made it so easy for me to settle in; there is a lot that I owe to my former boss in particular.” This allowed Hasnaa to quickly feel at home in Germany. The limited period of 18 months turned into a permanent position. And then, on top of everything else, she fell in love: Hasnaa met her future husband, from Lebanon.
Returning to France or even Morocco was not an option, which meant that integration and communication became even more important – at the baker’s in the mornings, for instance, but especially with her colleagues. “We primarily spoke English during the research project – not a problem. But now the meetings were in German, and I didn’t understand anything.” This annoyed Hasnaa and undercut her feeling of self-worth. So, she crammed up on German, busied herself with the German “rules of the game” – and soon got used to them. “I might have been able to climb the career ladder much quicker and more easily in France,” she says. “But the challenges I have faced in Germany and in my job have made me stronger, and I have grown.” Her colleagues kept giving her encouragement, Hasnaa says, like when she was thinking about going back to full-time work despite having two children. “Just go for it, my boss said, hitting the nail on the head: just try new things – because what do you have to lose?”