A street corner in Berlin, a bakery in Gotha, a clock factory in the Black Forest - participants from 100 countries told the Goethe-Institut about their favorite places in Germany. One of them stood out.
The very best place in Germany might just be in the library at the University of Augsburg.
"The sun used to shine there every morning. It was certainly an ideal seat for me when I didn’t yet have any friends at the start of my stay in Germany" wrote Dieu Linh Bui from Vietnam.
"Augsburg in autumn was cooler than South-East Asia. I wanted to sit in the sun because I felt a bit cold, even though I had already put on my jumper," she continued.
New perspectives on familiar places
Dieu Linh Bui's text was chosen as the best story among 1,200 entries submitted from roughly 100 countries. The Goethe-Institut, which promotes German language learning and cultural exchange, had called on people worldwide to send in stories about their favorite spots in Germany.
Respondants wrote in from China, Indonesia, the US, Russia, Argentina and sundry other countries. Only people not born in Germany were qualified to participate in the contest and to share their stories on the Goethe-Institut's meinort.goethe.de website.
The texts, which could be submitted in German or any other language, are pinned to an interactive map of Germany.
Johannes Ebert, Secretary-General of the Goethe-Institut, and member of the board of the project, was impressed by the diversity of the texts. "They disclose totally new perspectives on places that are familiar to us."
First prize: a trip to Germany
Besides winning first prize in the contest, Dieu Linh Bui's story had a happy ending. "One day a boy came to me," she wrote. "His beaming smile was like sunshine and made my heart warmer. We could understand each other very well even before I spoke. This moment is so sweet that I sometimes wish I could stop time and fly to Augsburg so that we can get to know each other again."
And perhaps she will have the chance to do just that because her prize is a one-week trip for two to the city of her choice in Germany.
The 80 best texts will be compiled in a book and published by the Hueber Verlag this fall.