Hamburg – The Gate to the World

Hamburg (CC BY-SA 2.0 Thomas Ulrich/ https://www.flickr.com/photos/lobostudio/5070796158)
Hamburg (CC BY-SA 2.0 Thomas Ulrich/ https://www.flickr.com/photos/lobostudio/5070796158)

I spent the summer 2014 on the German island of Sylt to do my practical training over two months. After that it was easy to decide that I would like to spend my Erasmus semester abroad in Hamburg. I had been to Hamburg only twice before then and I fell in love with the city. What makes Hamburg special is its rivers and the sea, its bridges and streets, its parks and cafes, its churches and mosques, its port and ships, its beach and ice rink, its combination of modern and old.

On September 7th my adventure began by taking the night train from Linz to Hamburg and sharing my compartment with refugees, who were also on their way to the cold north.

I was able to sublet a room in a shared apartment with two Germans. One of these, Lorenz, was 26 years old, and was studying medicine. He had been living in Hamburg for more than five years. The other flat mate was Victoria. She was  26 years and was also a newcomer to Hamburg. Our flat was in the district Hamm-Mitte which is very close to Hauptbahnhof. We were also very close to the airport; it was only 15 minutes away by metro. Unlike other students, I made myself at home quickly and I settled in very well. With courses starting mid’ October, I had three weeks to get to know the city and find my way around. I really enjoyed running in Hammer Park and I liked how many shops we had in front of our apartment. There were four bakeries,  a hair salon, restaurants and the supermarket chain Edeka.

The main reason I went abroad was because I wanted to write my bachelor thesis in another city. Having chosen an intercultural topic I was able to do courses at the “Akademie der Weltreligionen”, which is a branch of the University of Hamburg. Here, at the University of Hamburg, I had a second supervisor for my thesis. I was also attending three courses at the faculty of pedagogic education and one lecture series called “Friedensbildung”. I enjoyed all of my courses and I liked comparing my university in Hamburg to my university of teacher education at home. The University of Hamburg’s campus is huge, there are more than 42,000 students studying in eight different faculties.

I also spent a lot of time outdoors discovering Hamburg’s wonderful atmosphere with my Erasmus friends from Italy, Belgium, Luxemburg and other European countries. At the beginning of October an international group called PIASTA organized welcome events, sightseeing trips and get togethers for new students. We went to “Speicherstadt Kaffeerösterei”, did a harbor boat trip, had delicious fish-snacks and drinks and ended up dancing in one of the many clubs on the famous Reeperbahn. At the weekends, my international friends and I took the train to visit new exciting places like Bremen, Lübeck, Lüneburg and Cuxhaven. In January I went with my two Austrian friends to the beautiful island Sylt. We also visited the restaurant I worked in during the summer 2014. It was very different from being there in summer because this time it was freezing.

What I appreciate most about my time abroad is that I had a huge amount of freedom to live as I wanted and to develop and evolve.

There may be challenging situations, however these can be overcome with patience and faith in yourself. I feel it’s important to see new faces and to see things from a different perspective. Meeting all these new people from around the world made my life colorful and more exciting.

I loved living in Hamburg and so I extended my time here and started to work in an editorial office where I’m now undertaking Erasmus practical training.

Julia Fleischanderl

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