Things I Learned in 30 Days Studying Abroad - Hamburg, Germany

Monday, 6 November 2017

The Public Transport Really Is Amazing
I have already grown accustomed to only having to wait a maximum of 4 minutes most days, (usually 2) for the underground (called the U-Bahn here) And I am not as hopeless with directions as I previously thought. With the HVV app, it's pretty easy to figure out where you need to go, and central Hamburg is really quite small!

Hamburg Rathaus (City Hall)
Try & Learn The Language Before Arriving
If you're coming to Germany, you can get by with no German, if you speak English, but you're life will be a lot easier if you take the time to learn the basics of German before arriving. I have realised the huge part signs and texts play in my everyday life because here I can't understand so many of them!

The Supermarkets
They are really different here, there is a very distinct German-ness to stores like Aldi and Lidl here. While we have these stores back home and I thought they would be familiar, the stores back in Ireland have been carefully tailored to the Irish market, the first few weeks I found it very hard to get anything I was looking for. It wasn't helped by not being able to read German though! But here there is chocolate, gingerbread style cookies, Nutella, and marzipan, absolutely everywhere!

The Sunday Apocalypse
Everything is completely shut on Sundays. You get used to it but in the first few weeks it was a shock, I had to make sure to go shopping on Saturday for anything I was going to need on Sunday. There are some restaurants open Sundays. but pretty much everything else is completely closed. Also, stores tend to close earlier here than what I am used to. Even fast food joints don't stay open very late on week days so you need to remember to be prepared for that!

Don't Come Here Looking To Shop
Well, at least not on a student budget! Coffee, pastries and ice-cream may be more a little more affordable in most places, but everything else most certainly is not!
You may be shocked upon visiting even a thrift store to find that they really very aren't cheap at all! In general the prices here for clothing and shoes for example are extremely expensive.
You could get lucky with a bargain at a flea market here if you can haggle, but otherwise you'll be lucky to get new clothing or shoes for less than an absolute minimum of €30 here. (Unless you go to Primark maybe, they do have it here.)

Trees & Lakes
Hamburg is a very green city, there are lot's of parks and trees and waterways. You can get a bike and cycle around the Alster, Hamburg is definitely very easy on the eyes.

Traffic Regulations
Do not j-walk. I repeat, do not j-walk.  Traffic rules are taken very seriously here. Also, you must work to avoid being flattened by a bike, I've had some close shaves. Bikes have right of way over pedestrians on the footpath. Usually there is a separate path for the bikes, normally a pink or grey colour, but they don't have to stay on it so watch out!

People Look Up, Not Down #nosmartphonesjustsmartpeople
Here in Germany the amount of mobile data people get on the average phone plan is quite small from what I hear, and maybe this plays into something I noticed right away here, and that is that you don't really see people the same volume of people on their phones. You will get filthy looks while trying to text and walk. Especially while crossing a road, even if it's the green man! And the reason you get stared at so much on the underground is people aren't staring at their phone, so they stare at you instead haha!

The World Is Really Big
Meeting people from all over the globe who have come to study in Hamburg has been a really enriching experience and made me realise the nuances and layers of culture and language in places I would have previously thought of as just one country or area! If you can study abroad, do it!!

The World Is Really Small
We are all so well connected now it's a little scary! Social media means we can connect with strangers and people we've only just met so instantly. It's not like I haven't always known that but it's been reinforced by meeting so many new people in a such a short space of time.
Also, friends and family back home can keep really close tabs on you and there is a good chance you know someone, who knows someone, who knows someone who knows you! Even worldwide there are only a varying number of degrees of separation between all of us!

Time Flies!
I've already been here for two months as I publish this! It's gone by so fast and I want to make the most of it! And I definitely want to travel so much more now, sadly my budget isn't doesn't stretch to all the trips I wanted to make since I arrived here, but look out for some other posts I have planned on places to eat and things to do here in Hamburg!


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