Ever since reismee.nl accidentally lost all of my blogs from my Kuwait period I have been thinking about moving my blog. Until now I have had little reason to do so though, as I was living in the good old Netherlands, with little travel related excitement going on. Last November however I relocated to Hamburg, Germany, and especially now I’m doing a project on international experience and exchange blogs at work I feel inspired to start writing again. In English this time, on a completely new website, so that international friends no longer need to resort to Google Translate to read about my adventures. And yes, I know for a fact that that happened… 😉
This blog won’t be ready to participate in bab.la‘s International Exchange and Experience Blogs Competition 2016, which we will be launching next week. But from today onwards I will share my adventures abroad with you on this spot, and then maybe, just maybe, the honour of being nominated for the Top 100 will be mine next year 😉
I am still relatively fresh, only 2,5 months into my Hamburg adventure. I have settled in fairly quickly, as Germany and the Netherlands are not terribly different. My culture shock mainly involves the small things these days, such as what the Germans use the sidewalk for (both biking and walking, yes, both in one lane!), the way people eat lunch (hot.. uff, my poor stomach!) and the respect for traffic lights in general. The challenge is in trying to find out practical things, such as how to send a letter home, or how to get a doctor’s appointment.
On the one hand it does feel like home a lot. I can get speculoos spread and drop everywhere and I understand 99% percent of what people say when they speak German to me. I mean, I still vividly remember how things were in Turkey and Egypt, so this is a major improvement linguistically! On the other hand I do miss the excitement of having exotic surroundings a little, of discovering the multiple layers of cultures that are completely and totally different from my own. But there is some charm in the detail as well, and although Germany may not be the most interesting country to live in from an anthropological perspective I still enjoy going around during the weekends.
For many, many years I never ventured into Germany beyond Heinsberg, just across the Dutch-German border where grand mom lives, and now I get to discover more closely a country that is somehow part of my family’s heritage as well. But even though I may joke about getting a German passport every now and then (very convenient for travelling in the Middle East, where everyone hates everyone) I still feel very much the outsider. I have not yet started to support the Mannschaft, and neither do I feel anything special when the German anthem is played – although I must admit I kinda like the sound.
Slowly I start appreciating Hamburg too. My expectations were rather high when arriving, as everyone back home had been telling me that Hamburg was such an amazing city. Apparently those people had different ideas of what really amazing cities looked like, because I have lived in a few – and Hamburg is not one of them. Too many new buildings, too many high buildings, too modern architecture. Other parts of Hamburg are quite nice: the area around the Alstar, the Rathausmarkt, Altona. But the real beauty is to be found outside of Hamburg, in the smaller villages and cities that were not bombed during the war, such as Stade or Buxtehude. And for the time for come, I will make it my personal mission to visit as many of them as I can as well as to report on that here!
Liebe grüße aus Hamburg!