Where I’ve gone, Where I’m going

These past couple of posts I’ve spent a lot of time whining. Although it’s definitely a character trait of mine, and perhaps an under appreciated life skill (?), I thought this time I can show you a few of the actual places I’ve visited so far since moving here. I haven’t been able to really dive into the nitty gritty of the city yet, but I have found time for some mini-excursions around some of the different neighborhoods.

Stadtpark

Stadtpark is probably the largest, widest park in Hamburg. It’s right next to Winterhude, my beloved neighborhood where I rented my airbnb. Here there’s tons of scrappy dogs running around, BBQs, gelato trucks, a planetarium and wide open grassy areas. I’m not a photographer so I really should just stop while I’m ahead, but here’s some regular-joe pictures of a real put together park.

 

During my time in Hamburg, with each passing street, I get emotionally overwhelmed by the European quaintness. Those cobblestones! Those old buildings! Unintentionally I have taken three different pictures of the same kind of thing.

CAN YOU BLAME ME

Look at those cobblestones glisten in the afternoon light!

 

After looking at the map repeatedly, I started noticing this REALLY large green area, double the size of Stadtpark, and only a few subway stops away. Why, I asked myself, Why would Stadtpark be considered the biggest park in Hamburg when there’s this thing that’s triple the size right around the corner?

Oh yeah, Sarah, that’s because it’s a

OHLSDORF CEMETERY

Holy moly. This place was huge. And lush and green and magnificent.

 

Every nook and cranny of this place was just…I don’t know how to put it. These Germans really know how to bury the dead. Instead of rows of tombstones, they had alcoves or hidden tombstones inside bushes. They occasionally had maze like hedges and oddly shaped markers. It was peaceful, beautiful, tragic and strange really. How can I feel such peace and simultaneously know I’m standing among thousands of dead people?

cem6

RIP Croissant. I will eat tiny dough versions of you in your memory.

Well, obviously I need to be better about going places. Sure I’ve drank many-a-coffee-and-milk at the cafes around here, but I need to branch out and go exploring a little more. It’s been really difficult making friends currently (I even attempted to go on an OKcupid date here…) but, even if I have to go solo, there is no point in moving to a foreign country if I’m not able to go out and enjoy it! Damn these nerves!

 

Much love and until next time,

Sarah

 

Where I’ve gone, Where I’m going

An Introvert in Germany

FIRST AND FOREMOST, I would like to tell you what an introvert is. Over the years, people label themselves this as a convenient way of saying they are deep or insightful (just don’t.) Or people use it as a negative tool for calling someone anti-social and nerdy.

Who WOULDN’T WANT TO BE THE LIFE OF THE PARTY, sorry I didn’t mean to scream.

Anyway, here’s the best definition I found from UrbanDictionary.com:

“Opposite of extrovert. A person who is energized by spending time alone. Often found in their homes, libraries, quiet parks that not many people know about, or other secluded places, introverts like to think and be alone.

Contrary to popular belief, not all introverts are shy. Some may have great social lives and love talking to their friends but just need some time to be alone to “recharge” afterwards. The word “Introvert” has negative connotations that need to be destroyed. Introverts are simply misunderstood because the majority of the population consists of extroverts.

Extrovert: Oh my god, you’re so shy! You need to get out more!
Introvert: But it’s so draining – I don’t have a problem with going out; I just want to stay at home and read sometimes, y’know?Jesse is an introvert. He doesn’t mind staying home on a Friday night.”

This was written in the ancient times of 2007 and still rings true today.
I love people. I love talking to them, getting to know their horrible secrets, unfairly diagnosing them from my psychology degree, eating so much brunch, etc. But frankly? Once I’m done hanging out, this happens.
fatdog2
(fun fact, I sent this picture to my bosses the other day after being 45 minutes late because I got horribly lost!!)
People are lovely, but exhausting. I like ripping off my pants and taking a nap, every single time.
So during my time in Hamburg, I have been 100% exhausted 100% of the time. Not only am I constantly exposed to new people, but walking outside my door I am always getting lost.
I am also repeatedly having to ask people if they speak English. And though most people do, there is a distinct language barrier from sometimes truly connecting and understanding. You say tomato, I say to-mah-to! By the time the weekend comes, I’m sleeping for 10 hours straight and eating my recently found Oreo cookies in bed.

Another Strange Development:

Being an introvert usually means I do not succumb to the normal “trying to fit in” schemes that happen in society. Not because I don’t want to, because I’m just too tired and lazy. How can I be cool when I’m trying to watch Lady Dynamite on Netflix?

I have never been fashion forward, never liked to party, and certainly don’t like to shop. But here’s a fun fact!!!

Hamburg people love wearing stripes. These are pictures from real Hamburg People, wearing real Stripes. (not really, this is a lie)

I don’t know if it’s because of the proximity to the harbot that they want to wear some sort of sailor-jail like stripe fashions, but it is abundantly clear in every shopping center there are multiple choices of striped clothing.
Yesterday, I opened my closet and found these.
Some how THREE striped shirts manifested themselves out of nowhere. As if living in Hamburg long enough metamorphosed a Hamburg looking Sarah. I decided to pair these blouses with my new European old lady sandals and 2 dark circles under my eyes from lack of sleep.
I’ll be honest and say I don’t know where this journey will take me. I’m still unsure about the paperwork situation, unsure about my abilities to navigate myself successfully throughout this city, and really unsure of how to maintain balance as an introvert in a job that is very fun but totally exhausting.
Better luck next time!
Sarah
An Introvert in Germany

Some People are Graceful and Others are Not

Growing up, I used to read National Geographic like it was a message from God. These were undiscovered worlds at my fingertips in Technicolor glossy pages. Once in a while, there would be a picture of the photographer or journalist, wearing khaki shorts or some such nonsense, and usually over looking the horizon. These people were adventurers. They were stony eyed and wild haired and had a look of determination that few people really can encapsulate.

(all images from natgeo)

Anyway, my point is, I’m not one of those people.

It took me two weeks to get over the fatigue of flying here. That’s two weeks of sleeping, slogging around, befuddlement, and an overwhelming feeling of not quite sure if I was dreaming or if this was reality. I was glad I remembered wearing pants during this time. I really had no idea where I was or what I was doing.

Once that was done? I got sick. Luckily, not FLU sick, but scratchy throat, eyes, sneezing, coughing, blah blah blah. Naturally, I had to go to a government office and wait six hours in a crowd of people as every hole in my face was leaking. Gross! Sorry!

And after that? Yesterday, I tripped and sprained my ankle. To add insult to injury, my face INSTANTANIOUSLY produced two giant red cold sores. Because, why not? I mean, this city only has approximately one trillion staircases and I only have to teach in front of a bunch of adults merely feet away from my face! WHY NOT.

So, no, some people are not meant to do some rough-terrain-snake-eating-majestic-looking adventuring. Some of us aren’t meant to be constantly photogenic, or always have something profound up their sleeves.

Some people have an incredibly hard time functioning in a place that is actually just a bizarro version of the city she just came from. We all can’t be graceful, alright? Please just love me anyway.

IN OTHER NEWS:

Today is my one month anniversary! I made it one month! (barely!) to celebrate, people threw me a giant festival.

AWH SHUCKS GUYS YOU SHOULDN’T HAVE IT’S NOT THAT BIG OF DEAL.

Just kidding, this was the Hamburg Port Birthday festival! 827 years young! They had giant boats, crazy fried foods and a surprisingly large amount of healthy foods, a cigarette stand…

Lazy robots, magical robots!!!…

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Some sort of bizarre dance troupe in spandex (the best part of this was that all of the people were just staring at them blankly and not moving as they were dancing their little hearts out)

And me enjoying a nonalcoholic beverage.

IN OTHER, OTHER NEWS:

I have finally moved out of my Airbnb into another temporary living situation in a new neighborhood. I have only slept here one night, but so far the grocery store a block from my house has fresh squeezed orange juice (YOU WATCH IT GET SQUEEZED IN A MACHINE) so I really can’t complain yet.

Much love, I promise I’ll be more optimistic next time!

Sarah

 

Some People are Graceful and Others are Not

The Art of Punctuality

Happy May, dear friends!

Here in Germany they celebrate “May Day” as a national holiday! The Germans are collectively sad that it fell on a Sunday this year otherwise they would have had it off. Rest assured though, there were several parties happening in the neighborhood with people dancing the night away. In typical introvert fashion, regardless of the country, I celebrated with a personal pan pizza and chocolate ice cream. I feel horrible this morning! Hooray!

Before diving into the main topic I wanted to talk about, I FIRST wanted to blow your mind with these cereal boxes. Are you dreaming? Is everything the same and yet somehow different? Here’s a side by side comparison so we both know I’m not hallucinating.

GERMAN CEREALS:

13119759_10153515328215911_4636537833644054605_o

AMERICAN CEREALS:

Wait, didn’t cocoa krispies always have the monkey on it? And didn’t Cookie Crisp have a burglar dog?

I’M FALLING INTO A GERMAN VORTEX PLEASE SEND HELPPPPP

Anyways.

Punctuality:

These past couple of weeks teaching have been a fun, humbling, interesting blur. I have gotten to know some of my students fairly well, and we have started to build a rapport. I asked them gently if next time I could bring in a list of “German Stereotypes” that we can debunk together and they agreed.

WORD TO THE WISE: I would definitely not try this as an opener for people you just met. Some of these lists you find online are a bit “judgmental”, and it’s taken me a while to understand a different kind of humor in a foreign land. But, I found a particularly good list right here:

http://www.fluentu.com/german/blog/german-stereotypes/

As it’s complimentary, written by a German dude, as well as “TRUE” so it’s relatable to a lot of people here.

What they said about punctuality:

“Being on time is considered a virtue in Germany. They would rather be too early than too late. Punctuality is seen as a sign of respect to the person you are meeting. It does not mean that every German is good about this, but they will apologize if they arrive past the agreed-upon time.

On the same line of thought, train and bus schedules are given in exact minutes and yes, people do expect transportation services to be true to their schedule.”

 

This has proven from experience and asking around to be extremely true. I found myself going into work too early in fear of disrespecting the students with my usual tardiness. Way to make me a better person, Germans!

clocks.jpg

(this image is from the German Clock Museum in Furtwangen. Because, of course Germany would have a clock museum! Tripadvisor.com.)

Last week was also my first time doing one-on-one tutoring sessions. I tutored a guy who worked in the car insurance business. I asked him about this punctuality stereotype and he related to me something his grandfather told him:

“If you’re too late or too early, you’re borrowing someone else’s time. If you’re right on time you’re using the shared time you agreed upon.”

 

Yes, I completely butchered that quote, but that is poetic food for thought. Time is used as a sign of respect here, and I can’t say I disagree. I kind of like it!

Friends: remember when I was perpetually 20-30 minutes late? Well GERMAN SARAH is meticulously on time. German Sarah also eats giant loaves of bread every day.

Until next TIME heheeheheh no.

Sarah

 

The Art of Punctuality