Who are you? – My name is Maximilian, but my friends just call me Max. I am from Munich, Germany, which is close to the Alps. My family has most of its roots in Bavaria, but my grandgrandma is originally from Pommern. She went to Berlin later and had to flee from there during the WWII. That’s an area in the northwest of Poland which has been German before the war. They finally ended up in a small village near to Munich. Compared to others, my family is rather small: I have one younger brother and three cousins but all my grandparents are still with me and it was only last year in March when my grand grandma passed away at the blessed age of 97.
I identify as a person as being very interested in people and learning about their lives. At the same time, I need to be sure that others value what I do: If I feel they appreciate my talents, I will be happy. In recent years I discovered that experiencing new things are very important to me: First, I traveled to the US, crossed the Alps by foot and spent six months in China. Those experiences made me become more self confident in being open to new situations and people. Second, I started to do portrait photography and that requires talking to people self confidently. Besides, I am almost done with my Masters in Business Administration at TU Munich.
Why did you choose Norway? – After half a year in China, I knew I want to experience the opposite. Norway is truly in almost everything the complete opposite of the industrial China I’ve lived in: It’s an incredibly rich country with a strong emphasis on climate protection, very few discrimination, very developed and very few people. Moreover I wanted to stay within Europe because I wanted to learn more about my own continent. I picked Scandinavia because I expected that the focus of the exchange students here would be less on partying and more on outdoor activities, sports and the like than in southern Europe. And actually, it really is like this.
How do you perceive the Norwegian culture? – I was told that the Norwegian culture is distanced and closed, but I don’t feel like it is at the moment. Maybe that is because I am from Germany (which is also kind of distanced) and because we live in a student city where a lot of people are young and open. I am always comparing my and their culture and there are more similarities than differences I guess.
But still a couple of things stand out: First, if you ask for help, Norwegians always try hard to support and might even give you much more information than you actually need. The response you receive is warmer and more generous than you would receive by a German. Second, safety has a much higher value: Whether in traffic, on a tour in the backlands or at university, everyone is watching out for you. Wherever you go, you feel safe and cared for. And third, equality in society is way more achieved than in Germany. Especially between men and women: I heard there is a smaller payment gap or way better options for fathers to go on paid paternal leave for example. Maybe most importantly, Norwegians do not divide school kids in groups after the fourth grade in primary school based on their marks. Our (Bavarian) system brands clear winners and a lot of losers at an early stage of life. On the other hand a couple of Norwegian students I spoke to complained that they always had to learn in the pace of the slowest learner. Maybe a mixture of both systems would be good.
Do you have a dream? – I sometimes dream of joining politics, of contributing to causes I believe in. I see myself as European and European values such as equality, freedom, democracy and peace mean a lot to me. Especially because of all those horrible anti-democratic developments in these days and the upcoming elections in a couple of countries where weights are being expected to shift towards the extremes this summer and fall I dream of changing the society to the moderate good. I would like to live out my substantial political interest and use my talents to contribute. Besides I want to be someone that inspires people to think of themselves, like I hopefully do with this project. In general, I want to do something significant enough that people remember after death.