HH is for Home

HH is for Hansestadt Hamburg, or the Hanseatic City of Hamburg, or my new hometown. It’s been a busy few weeks since leaving San Francisco. Once the jetlag subsided, real life began—in some instances, a little quicker than I’d anticipated. Here’s the bulk of what I’ve been doing since touchdown:

Look for an apartment

Currently absorbing about 70%+ of my available time and brainpower, looking for an apartment in Hamburg is no easy task. I thought house-hunting in San Francisco was hard, but Hamburg is a different ballgame, not least because of the language hurdle. Not only do I need to translate the listing itself, I also need to navigate booking a showing and impressing the landlord. Because there are more renters than apartments, landlords have pretty much the pick of the litter when it comes to renting their places. Not such a great time to be a foreigner, especially one with a distinctly non-German name.

Eat too much bread

German beer gets all the hype, but bread is where it’s AT. Pretzel bread, cheese bread, Brötchen (cute breads with toppings), pizza bread…Let the yeast feast begin!

Get back to the grind

Funeployment ended unexpectedly last week, but at least there was confetti. I woke up last Tuesday to a panicked email from my HR contact at my new agency. There has been a mistake, it read. Would it be possible for you to start earlier? Please call at your earliest convenience. We’d previously agreed on April 18, which gave me well over a month in HH to get settled. But to be honest, the prospect of a month off was giving me the jitters—I was ready to get started. I called HR. “Sure, I can start earlier,” I agreed. “What are you thinking? April 1?” There was a nervous silence on the other end of the line. “Would it be possible to start tomorrow?” came the reply. Evidently HR confused me with a different new hire, and had told my creative directors I was starting mid-March. The new team is chock-full of expats, and we spend a good chunk of the day drinking cappuccinos, complaining about the visa process, making language jokes, and comforting each others’ homesickness.

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Take walks

It’s cold as balls right now, but my favorite way to learn a new city has always been to walk it. Hands jammed into pockets, hat low over the ears, I’ve been stomping all over this town. Hamburg is an eclectic mix of old world and seriously modern. My office, which is right on the harbor, overlooks the Elbe Philharmonie—a striking building whose shape evokes waves—and the rows of old port warehouses that date back to the 18th century.

Leave Germany

Once to Dublin, and again next week to Majorca (booked back when I thought I had lots of time)—the best part of living in Germany may very well be leaving Germany. Looking forward to logging miles all over Europe, but also to exploring my new country more and getting into the smaller cities that are off the beaten path.