Saturday, September 17, 2016

Tschüß, Hamburg

Warning: image heavy post.

I am leaving Hamburg today. Yesterday was my last day of work, and my Probe-BahnCard runs out today, so I'll be heading back to Berlin for a few days before flying home to California. I'm going to write more posts about my summer and about my almost six months abroad, and I also plan to write a Hamburg guide similar to the one I did for Berlin.

The whole summer I've been comparing Hamburg to Berlin and finding it wanting in many ways. But on Thursday, as I was showing a friend around the city, I surprised myself with a rush of sentiment. Hamburg is a dynamic, interesting, fun, Free and Hanseatic city with a long and complex history, and although it had the misfortune of being the next city I lived in after imprinting very strongly on Berlin, it is actually pretty great. There are things I regret not seeing (such as, er, the Museum für Hamburgische Geschichte) and things that I will miss dearly (Frau Larsson, the Swedish cafe ten minutes from work that has the best cakes ever). I got lucky and ended up both living and working with extremely nice people. Overall, I have just been very fortunate.

Not really feeling in the mood for a lot of words. Here are some photos from the past thirteen weeks, instead.

Birds along the Alster
Schlager Move parade, described to me as "Love Parade but with 70s folk-inspired pop"
Harbor on the Alster
Sankt Pauli, the cool neighborhood
Old turbine (?) in front of the Museum der Arbeit
Frau Larsson's cake display
Fields near Neuengamme, a concentration camp on the outskirts of the city
Friedhof Ohlsdorf
Probably the Alster
Cranes in the industrial area south of the Elbe
Bremen, Hamburg, and Lübeck (the three major Hanseatic cities) in front of the Justice Building

Danke schön, Hamburg. Ich hoffe auf ein Wiedersehen.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

What I (Will) Miss

And suddenly, we are a week into September already. When did that happen?

The past few weeks have been quick. The pace at work quickened briefly, and the project I've been working on since the end of July will wrap up neatly for the end of my internship. Last weekend I was in Berlin, on Friday for the seminar with the other interns that had me stressing, and on the weekend with friends. This weekend I will be traveling again. Next weekend I will travel to Berlin and stay with my host parents a couple of days, and then I travel back to the United States.

Last week, on September 1, I found myself stunned at the thought that on September 1 I was on a different continent. Until college, school always started before then. Now it is the first month of autumn and I am in Hamburg, not the Bay Area.

I've been thinking about things I miss and will miss, and have been too busy planning travel and sending real-person-emails to come up with anything more substantial to post. Here, then, are the lists.


What I miss:

Consistent good weather. The rain I don't mind, and after living in drought-stricken California it's refreshing. But the cold! North German summers are like California winters. I wondered if I was being dumb getting more sweaters after coming here, but they have been absolutely necessary.

Meat. I've been eating vegetarian this summer because I'm living with a vegan, and once I get back to Berlin you know I'm going to go to my favorite sushi place and get one of their combos.

Various foods. These are things I will obtain in short order once I get back to the states:
-burrito with guacamole
-cajun fries with BBQ sauce and honey mustard (from TAP or Five Guys)
-chicken egg drop corn soup from any Chinese restaurant
-In-n-Out. I've been abstaining from mammals for a while now so I might not actually make good on this one. But something about being away from the US for months at a time makes you want a burger.
-chili. I was going to cook it for myself this summer and never got around to it, because I'm lazy.

Friends and family. Of course. I've already written about feeling isolated here.

Speaking English. Not because it's easier (although it definitely is) but because I speak German in a higher register than I speak English, for whatever reason, and I don't like that.

My own bike. These city bikes are absolutely fantastic, but I want mine. This item also includes having a helmet.

Being in the same time zone as people. I'm sure it looks super professional to these engineering firms to get emailed back by this college kid at 0300--but no, that's just me sneaking emails in on my lunch break.

Drying machines. Not that the drying rack is all that inconvenient, but it is slower.

All the music that is blocked in Germany but not in the US because of copyright issues.


What I will miss:

The clouds. German skies are gorgeous.

Cheap groceries. Food is way less expensive here than in the US, although I'm not sure why.

Various foods. These are things I will miss having in close reach:
-falafel dürüm
-savory baked goods like the Kartoffel Teigtasche I had for lunch and the Tomaten-Paprika Strudel from the Podbielskiallee U-Bahn Imbiss in Berlin
-croissants for under 1 Euro
-cake from the Swedish cafe ten minutes away from my work place
-cheap Ritter sport chocolate. My sister informs me these are also available in the US, but pricier.

Living independently. This includes cooking for myself and having to run household errands. I don't know, I kind of like that stuff--although cooking sometimes takes longer than expected and doesn't turn out consistently well.

Living in a city. I like having a lot of different things clustered together. The convenience of being able to run almost all my errands in the stretch between work and home is excellent.

Good public transportation. Good cheap public transportation, I should add. There's a real network here, and although I think Berlin's system is better than Hamburg's, Hamburg outshines the Bay Area a thousandfold.

Perspektiv. In the US it's easy to get insular, and here...well, you can get insular, but the bubble is not quite as present.

Speaking German. I am at a reasonably good level of German for a year and a half, and I want to keep building on it. Living in Germany and absorbing the language I hear around me has been good.

The potential for a rational sleep schedule. Admittedly I have gone to bed past midnight a few too many times this week, but at least I had the option not to. Next quarter when I'm in my four technical classes and trying to figure out how to lead a team, that will not work so well.

High background level of environmental consciousness. Separate your trash. Separate all your trash.

Convenient far-distance travel. The number of countries I've been to has doubled since I landed in Germany in March. An hour and a half to get to various other capital cities? Amazing. Long-distance buses and the rail network? Also amazing.

Not being in a drought.


It's been over five months. This is much longer than the last longest time I was out of the country, which was two months last summer. I don't know the next time I will be in Europe--so I need to enjoy the time while I have it.