In another enlightening and informative interview our student ambassador from Germany, Janina Catherine Knörzer speaks to her official counterpart, German Ambassador to Ireland Deike Potzel about why students are making the right decision coming to Ireland for further study.
Your Excellency, you started out at Humboldt University, Berlin and then worked around the world in Bonn, Singapore, Tehran and finally in Berlin once again. What does Dublin have to offer in comparison to other international cities?
A significant difference is the friendliness of its people. I still find it astonishing that when leaving a bus, you say “thank you”. In none of the other places I have lived, have I experienced that. It’s really wonderful and beautiful. People are extremely friendly in every aspect of daily life and it brings a certain ease into your routine. Another difference would be the architecture and how Dublin is structured — like several different towns making up a bigger city.
My impression is that Ireland and the Irish have a very good image in Germany. Conversely, in an interview that appeared in the Independent, you say: “Generally, I feel there is a positive take on Germany and Germans”. How did you get this impression?
Basically, just from talking to people and visiting different towns in Ireland. I visited a lot of schools, companies, universities and ITs and people are always very friendly and open when talking about Germany. They know a lot of the brands which we sell worldwide. There is still some work to do in the sense of selling Germany, for example in the sense of tourism. People think we are very pragmatic and hardworking, but not so much in terms of enjoying life, our wine or beautiful spots for holidays. So I think there is still some work to do, but generally, it is very positive. Plus, I always get very, very positive feedback on Angela Merkel and there seems to be a great admiration for her work.
Ireland has made an excellent recovery from the economic and financial crisis in the last 10 years. What do you think makes Ireland attractive, particularly as a place for young people to study and work?
I think it’s a very vibrant place. Dublin is a very young city with so many universities and good job opportunities. The people are friendly, there are beautiful landscapes and there is a very rich culture here. In Dublin you can go out to cinemas, theatres, clubs and concerts every night and I would say it is a place that makes for a very comfortable way of life. The standard of living is very high here in Ireland. It feels like a good place to be. And the weather is so much better than people always say.
Where are there points of contact between the German embassy and the Irish universities?
We visit the universities quite a bit, so I try to speak to all the presidents and then obviously talk to professors or students that work closely with us. When I go around, I see that there is a growing interest in collaboration with German educational institutions and a lot of the university exchanges they have through Erasmus, which is just wonderful to see. So, I see myself, and the embassy as a facilitator to make people aware of the possibilities, explain about the German Academic Exchange Service and provide a basis from which universities can then further develop relations with us.
Finally, a very ‘undiplomatic’ question: What place in Ireland would you show someone if you wanted to convince them to move to Ireland?
That is really a difficult question because there are so many nice places in Ireland. Before I moved here we spent our summer holidays in Ireland and drove around the island and I just could not believe there were so many fantastic places. The place I would first take someone to is Achill. I kind of fell in love with Achill because of the Heinrich Böll cottage, the famous writer, who fell in love with Ireland and Achill as well. Then I would travel south via Westport along Lough Mask and Lough Corrib to Galway because this drive is just so astoundingly beautiful! You can spend months going around Ireland and always find new and wonderful places.