Oktoberfest an der Alster: Celebrating Hamburg-Style

I had really hoped to get down to Bavaria to celebrate my first Oktoberfest in Germany—but with a packed work schedule, coordinating with visiting friends, and the rest of real life, somehow time got away from me. Should I also blame in on the common conviction that Oktoberfest is held in October? Sure! Machen wir…

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Before and After 2 – Painted Statements

This post continues where the Before left off. Having come to this country with only the clothes on my back (okay, and two suitcases and four boxes), I also had no furniture. The first night I spent in the place was in a nest of blankets on the floor. While a lack of furniture made everyday…

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Before and After 1 – First Look

I have moved 25 times in the last ten years. And honestly, I don’t know which I find more staggering—that it’s been ten years since I first moved away from home, or that I’ve been such a nomad. Over those years I spent a lot of time fantasizing about what my ideal place would look…

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A Beautiful Day in Hamburg’s Neighborhoods

Let’s play a game. As in San Francisco, I’ve found that one of the first questions people ask here in Hamburg is, “What neighborhood do you live in?” There is the hipster neighborhood (Schanze) and the LGBT neighborhood (St. Georg), the party neighborhood (St. Pauli) and the multicultural neighborhood (Altona), the neighborhood for wealthy old people (Winterhude) and the neighborhood…

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Culture Shock #4: Take Your Own Beverage

“Feierabend,” Tim tells me, “is the most important German word.” Literally translated into, “Party night,” it’s the phrase Germans use to denote the end of the workday—roughly the equivalent of “Happy hour”. And on my commute home, I usually see groups of coworkers standing outside or walking down the street. It’s not a party in…

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Culture Shock #3: A Post about the Post

Germans are stereotyped the world for many things, but their efficiency, meticulousness, and desire for order might be the best-known. Elaborate filing systems, with their own naming devices, color-coding, and dates, are things I’m no stranger to (and in fact, I might be known as well for being a little OCD about tracking my documents).…

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Culture Shock #2: Those Doors Are Closin’

We’ve all been there—at the base of the stairs as the train you need comes rushing into the station. As you make the effort and sprint up the stairs, people inside of the carriage spot you, throwing an arm across the door to keep it from shutting before you slip inside. “Thanks,” you gasp, trying…

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Culture Shock #1: Your Money’s No Good Here

People have asked me how I’m settling in here, and the truth is—it’s been quite easy. Unlike living in Thailand, which was for the first few months so unsettlingly foreign and where almost everything seemed like a struggle, getting my start in Germany has been virtually seamless…though unlike in Thailand, adjusting to the weather is infinitely…

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Black, Gold, and Red Tape: Getting Started in Germany

The past few weeks have been an bit of gnarly snarl. Like with any international move, there’s a lot of moving parts, bureaucratic processes, and exhaustive red tape. In my experience, however, the “moving parts” in this move to Germany have been less of a logical Domino effect (first you need > then you need), and more of an interlocking web of gears (consider it a cuckoo-clock of chaos). Case in point? My “Moving to Germany as a non-EU citizen” flowchart, exhibit A…

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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…

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