This past week I have been finding scraps of time to take observational notes, but for the most part I’ve been so fatigued and confused I genuinely don’t know if it’s settled in yet that I’m trying to make a life for myself in a new country. That being said, I’d like to talk about my first impressions of Hamburg, Germany. I think they will change…or I will change… because already the shock my system went through is settling down to a steady hum.
I’m determined! I’m forever confused by the government hoops I have to jump through to get my work visa! But, I’ll save that for another blog.
Observation #1: Staring
People love to stare here. As soon as I entered into this city… the taxi driver, the people on the subway, the old men, the babies in their carriages… these people love to stare. Now, the American in me of course instinctually smiles when someone is staring (minus creepy people) but here, they just stare with no noticeable expression difference. It becomes unnerving. Overwhelming. The eyes of people that you cannot communicate well with are staring you down always 3-5 seconds too long and you have no choice but to stare back or turn away.
Here’s a series of stock images from Google so you can get a glimpse of what it feels like to be stared at relentlessly.
(I picked mostly white people because this city is in fact… filled with a lot of white people)
The Optimist In Me: This means of course, you can openly people watch. Which is in my top ten favorite activities.
Observation #2: Food
Everything looks and tastes slightly better. Brighter, even? I don’t know why. It could just be me, but I talked to my Airbnb host /hopefully new best friend 😉 and she mentioned that Germany has strict government regulations on how chickens are raised and eggs and stuff. I can’t argue with her, the egg yolks here are a bright sunset orange compared to the yellow we’re used to in the states.
This picture also comes from the internet to show you the difference. There’s lots of “controversy” about what the color means, but I’ve been eating orange eggs and can taste the difference.
On a broader scope of the food situation. I just… I have been eating SO MUCH. There are really some attractive people here, tall, lean, European, aloof and graceful, and it’s been causing me to just eat on behalf of everyone. Eat and drink and eat. OH MAN, THE BREAD. THE BREAD DESERVES ITS OWN POST, But the strange thing is… I don’t feel bloated. I’m losing weight and yet eating more? I’m not a scientist, but my tight jeans are becoming looser as I stuff my face with croissants. Here’s a series of pictures of my food adventures thus far.
Buffets, giant bowls of Kaffee und Milch, best quiche I’ve ever had, weird veggies, nine pm gelato, stuffed seafood potatoes and so much more! Needless to say, I won’t go hungry. B-)
Observation #3: Quiet Charms
I think the most important part, through my haze of trying to live here, are the small moments of kindness and magic that I can STILL somehow see, even though I’m in this weird hibernation mode. The harshness of the staring paired with still nippy weather has caused me to feel a little unhinged, but through this unsettled feeling, I have still noticed some extreme kindness.
10 out of 10 times I have noticed people offering people with baby carriages or luggage to help them carry it up or down the stairs.
There are several Lake Alster swans that are lovely and forever startling. These birds are HUGE and magnificent.
Tiny houses and tiny boat racing!
And so many undiscovered museums I can’t wait to get my eyeballs on.
For now, I feel like I made the right decision. It’s a honest-to-God challenge beyond my wildest dreams… in some ways it feels like you’re a child again. How do you make copies on a copy machine when everything is in another language? But I’m surviving. Not thriving yet, but surviving and that’s good enough.
Still getting my bearings,