Some may find this a bold statement, but I feel very strongly that you need to learn German if you’re an English-speaking expat living in Germany.
Sometimes I think that my students in Germany taught me more than I taught them. Teaching is a funny thing and demands your all. It is utterly exhausting and wonderful all at once.
I really like the German word for goodbye. Auf Wiedersehen. It means you’ll see the person again. It’s not the end. Why is there even the word “good” in “goodbye” anyway? There is nothing very good about leaving people you love, leaving a place you love.
To say that re-entry into my own country, Canada, has been an emotional roller coaster so far, is a rather massive North American sized understatement.
First of all, I should say that I absolutely adore Hamburg, and I really enjoy living in Germany and feel lucky to have had this chance. But, as with every country, city and culture (including my own), there are things that drive a person crazy.
I know in two weeks when I board the plane back to Vancouver and say a final goodbye to Hamburg, Germany I am going to bawl my eyes out. I never expected it, but this city and country found a place in my heart and grabbed on tight.
Every so often in life we are given opportunities that seem too good to good to be true. I recently took advantage of one of these golden opportunities and for the past two and a half months I have been working as a Canadian summer student at the Steigenberger Grandhotel Petersberg, Germany.
One of the best parts of teaching English in Germany for me really has to be the funny mistakes my students make. I have laughed so hard I’ve had tears streaming down my face on numerous occasions.
I’ve never been a quitter. Ever. But German, well, trying to learn this complex and challenging language has made me want to throw in this heavy, hyper-structured linguistic towel almost every other week, or sometimes every other day.
It’s hard to believe that a year ago today I walked off the plane in the Hamburg airport with a mind buzzing with anticipation, a stomach full of butterflies and not nearly enough winter clothing. I arrived in Hamburg with one suitcase, no job, a bit of money, a broken heart but a spirit ready for adventure.
This post has been percolating in my mind for a while now, and like any decent cup of coffee, I think it is nice and strong and ready to be enjoyed. It all comes down to this – every single day I live here I notice a new contradiction in German culture.
Happy belated New Year from Hamburg! It’s been a while since I’ve blogged and it’s partly because I feel like I’m going through a processing phase of my time abroad.
Okay folks, I’m pretty sure I’ve found it… that’s right, the country that looks Christmas in the eye, says, “We know what to do with you” and then kicks some serious Christmas butt.
How do I love thee Hamburg? Let me count the ways! Since Christmas is coming, I thought I would put on my hat of positivity and focus on some of my favourite things about living in Hamburg, Germany.
It’s hard to believe that six months ago I arrived in Hamburg, knowing only two people and about two words of German. I still feel that my German hasn’t progressed as far as I’d like, but I’m happy to say that I now know a lot more people and really consider this beautiful city another home.
So lately you’ve been reading all of my blog posts, now you’re thinking to yourself, yah, I could do that. I’m SO moving to Germany! But before you come… here are a few things you might want to know.
Anyone who has lived abroad knows there is one inevitable condition that you’ll face – culture shock. This is my third time living abroad and it always manages to bite me in the butt.
I’m gonna tell you something important so listen up. German is ridiculously hard to master. It is kicking my butt every single day. But, I refuse to give up!
It happened. I feel just a bit more German now. I definitely feel different. Yes, I went to my first true German outdoor soccer viewing party... Soccer is taken more seriously than politics in Germany. Be prepared for anything!
I just survived my first month living in Germany. One terrible cold, many great beers, and a lot of German chocolate later…here’s what I’ve learned. I hope this will help you settle into your new home abroad…wherever that may be. Los geht’s (Let’s go)!
Great music, great beer, soccer mania and ridiculously old buildings. It doesn’t get much more European than that. My first venture outside of Hamburg made for a true German weekend away. The quaint city of Bremen is just one lovely hour train ride away via Hamburg’s Haupbahnhof (main train station).
They say that stereotypes exist for a reason, and in a lot of cases they’re completely right, but Germany has been giving me many surprises (and a few confirmations) each day. I’ve been in Hamburg (in Northern Europe), for two weeks now and each day is like a new adventure with a continuous onslaught of sensory overload. Here are a few of my first impressions of Germany.
I believe in miracles. That’s no lie. I believe in everyday magic, I believe there is no such thing as coincidences. And I believe that we were put on this earth for a reason. Cold, hard realists – look elsewhere. I believe the impossible is possible and here is some proof of the magical moments I have had in Germany during my stay here.
The last thing you want to think about is “What if something goes wrong?” while you’re abroad for work or for travel.
The solutions to your problems in Germany: a list of emergency hotlines and housing, clinics, and other support resources.
It’s true – I’ve had some tough times in Germany, like missing my friends and family. When I left Canada in September 2010, I was eager to get out of my home country and discover Europe, but also to uncover what it means to be Canadian.
These are the top five things I miss the most while living in Germany, and to relish in once I get back home:
Okay, okay. So there may not be a huge difference between living in Berlin or living in Toronto. But when it comes down to the subtleties – or cultural differences – you may notice a thing or two.
It’s easy to get around Europe once you’re here. Everything is so close by and easy to get to. Rarely will it take you more than one or two hours to get to your chosen destination from anywhere in Europe, especially from Germany.
Since landing in Berlin from Toronto a few months back, I have traveled to Norway, Italy, Latvia, Finland, and more, to interview artists abroad for my web-TV show, ArtStars*. Here is how I have managed to visit all these amazing places on a dime.
Something about Germans – their work ethic. It blows me away. They are so committed to what they do, that they deserve some applause. Here are seven Germans at the top of their game who have taught me how to step it up professionally.
If you’re ever down and out in Germany, sometimes you just need a slice of home away from home. Canadian friends.
Here are the best, most prolific artists that have come my way since moving to Germany in 2010.
Once you’re here you may never want to go home.
Don’t live like a tourist. Get a phone plan, and stop paying 3€ service charge on your Canadian bank card. This is what I learned the hard way.
If you can get a weekend away in Dresden, do it. Bordering on the Czech Republic with a population of over 500,000, Dresden is not just another quaint small town outside of Berlin. Hundreds of indie, underground bars line the small streets in Chopin’s favourite city.
Bar hopping Dresden, Germany, has tripled in size. Once a mere 100 bars on the small street of Alaunstraße, over 300 bars now spill onto the nearby Louisenstraße and Görlitzer Straße.
That’s not to say they’re all pubs.
Get out of Berlin: The Youth Mobility Visa is good in other cities, too – take advantage of the bustling art capital in "little Paris," the city of Leipzig.
If Germany is the land of poets, Leipzig is the city of painters. Home to blockbuster art stars Neo Rauch and the New Leipzig School painting movement, Leipzig is one hour outside of Berlin (just an InterConnex train ride away), but hardly the Buffalo to the New York.
Just admit it: When you move to Berlin, you spend the first month - if not the first year - partying. Don't fight it, enjoy your tourist days while they last. From all-nighter hotspots to pay-what-you-can wine lists, before you run out of Euros, here's the scoop.
Currywurst what? Berlin is home to thousands of hipsters and access to the Youth Mobility Agreement Visa makes the most stylish city in Europe sexier. But when the sun comes up, then what?
It was a Thursday night in Kreuzberg, and I was dancing around the Grimmuseum in a tinfoil dress with two teenagers. We were videotaping an episode for ArtStars* and Chlorophorm TV in both German and English...