American Writer in Germany: 8 Months

Everyone wish Hamburg and me a happy anniversary! It’s just a couple days shy of 8 months and I STILL don’t hate it. I’m not sure if this city really is that great, or if I’m just getting older, or if maybe there’s something in the water here, but whatever it is, I’m still pretty content. And if you know me, you know I usually hit my Over It stage by month six, so this is kind of a big deal.

Despite having been here a while, there’s still a ton of new things I’m learning and discovering, so here you go: an 8-month-mark list of my thoughts, feelings, and observations about Hamburg.

  1. It’s not a cold as everyone told me it would be. I thought I was in for a long winter, with the kind of painful cold that takes your breath away whenever the wind blows, but I don’t think it’s been THAT cold even once since I arrived. Not to mention, it’s only March but days are already considerably warmer. Of course, this could have just been an unusually warm winter, but I’m not complaining.
  2. Germans are stylish. They don’t get enough credit.
  3. The German language isn’t as hard to grasp as I thought, but German grammar is fucking IMPOSSIBLE. Die, Der, and Das?! C’mon, Germany. Pick one and stick to it.
  4. I never thought I’d enjoy having an Omi and Opi as much as I enjoyed having a Granny. But they are fucking stars.
  5. Speaking of Granny; I knew she spoke German but never realized how often she did. Now that I’m here, I hear people say things she used to say to me all the time. It’s strange and cool and, once in a while, a little sad.
  6. The creative scene in Hamburg is meh. Everyone keeps telling me it’s active and robust, if I just get to know the right people, but I, personally, have yet to crack it.
  7. To be fair to the creative scene, I also haven’t been able to crack “getting to know the right people”, either. I meet new people all the time and maintain a pretty friendly rapport with most of them, but I feel like I’ve only made about five actual friends. And two of those five friends are under five years old.
  8. Despite not having many friends, I definitely feel like I have family here. I absolutely lucked out on that front, and maybe that’s why I don’t feel AS lonely.
  9. While we’re on the topic of people, men here do NOT like me. Well, the ones my own age don’t. Men of the senior variety can’t get enough of me. If I wasn’t so full of myself, my self-esteem would be taking a real hit.
  10. German playgrounds are THE SHIT. American kids don’t know what they’re missing.
  11. Germans (Europeans? People of Earth?) really do think Americans are dumb. Since November, I can’t say that I completely disagree.
  12. Can’t speak for all of Germany, but Hamburg definitely shines (figuratively, but also literally, I suppose) in warmer months. I wouldn’t go as far as to say winter here is boring, but I will say I’m looking forward to doing way more in the summer.
  13. I still jaywalk, but I do it WAY less.
  14. I yell at people in my head about 75% less here than I did back home. Hamburg has turned down the volume of my inner voice considerably.
  15. I wish learning a second language had been made a higher priority during my schooling. Not that I would’ve learned German, but being in Europe in general (and being surrounded by people who speak 2 languages MINIMUM) really gives you a new appreciation for all your wasted teenage potential.
  16. Traveling, overall, gives you a new appreciation for a bunch of shit you learned and didn’t care about. Stay in school, kids.
  17. Here are some of the things I wish I could do more of: go to the movies, go to spoken word & literary events, meet writers (& actually be able to read their work), wear sunglasses, find indie cafes that I love, spend long afternoons in bookstores.
  18. I miss bookstores. I really fucking miss bookstores. And obviously Hamburg has bookstores, but the English sections are all super limited. Sometimes all I want on a rainy afternoon is a trip to Barnes & Noble.
  19. I also miss Chinese food. And wing spots. And corner stores. And good pizza.
  20. And my mom. I miss my mom.
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