When I was a child, my favourite bed time story was “The ugly duckling” by Andersen. It stuck to me as a fairy tale about the concept of self with a happy-endling, in which the duckling finds his true family where he is warmly welcomed. Moreover, I was touched by this story because of another reason: I could recognise myself in the duckling’s life. Born and raised in Vietnam, I have always had a feeling that this is not the suitable environment for me. I got into literature-majored class of a National High school for the Gifted and even though I achieved a national prize for the subject of Vietnamese Literature in a competition for gifted students, I could tell this path was not for me. For this reason, I then applied for Hanoi University, where I have the chance to learn German. Like the ugly duckling finding his family, I could finally find the path I am supposed to take. Languages were the key for me to open up a whole new world. I had a year as an Au Pair in Passau, Germany to discover life and culture of both Germany and other countries in Europe.
However, I realized that there is a big difference between the duckling and a human being when it comes to belongingness. While the duckling had no other way but to find the community that shared the same appearance as him, a human being can always have a connection to others through empathy. Being able to study European Studies in University of Passau this year as a freshman, I no longer find myself lost or not belonging. This is a precious opportunity for me to tell the story of the duckling not just as a happy-ending tale, but as an empathetically-ending tale, as everyone in this world is born a unique swan.