November 3, 2013, by Guest blog

Getting to know Hamburg: The City of Lakes and Lights

Post written by Charlotte Bernard

I first came to Hamburg in the north of Germany for a day-trip in December three years ago, and the impression which stayed with me was one of the twinkling fairy-lights in the dark afternoon, the warm mugs of Glühwein, and the childish giddiness which the most wonderful time of the year often brings.

I left Hamburg with a clear goal, and that was to try to ensure that I could spend my year abroad there. Fortunately enough, dear Reader, I was one of the lucky ones who was allocated Hamburg as a city to work in as an English Language Assistant, and here I am, writing this in my little flat close to the city’s beautiful centre.

Over time, my memories of that wonderful day in the city had become a little rose-tinted, but my first impressions of being a resident here, rather than a tourist, could not be better.

Yes, the pavements are peppered with chewing-gum. Yes, the tube can be sweltering. Yes, people can often be a little blunt (German stereotype perhaps confirmed), but the charm of this city is pervasive.

I’m a great believer that you should follow how you feel, and as I walk around the beautiful Alster lake here, I know that there is nowhere else I’d rather spend this nine-month teaching placement.

However, while my free-time here has shown me how much I adore the feel of the city itself, there is also the small issue of the job I am actually here to do, believe it or not.

I had had a little bit of teaching experience before, but helping in an after-school German class at a local primary school on a Wednesday afternoon was not exactly going to set me up too well for helping to teach carpenters, interior designers and painter-decorators in their mid-20s.

While it hasn’t always been easy since I began working here, I now understand why teachers often say that their job can be incredibly rewarding. Some of the students, especially the older ones (we’re talking 30-40 year-olds), were a little frosty towards me to start with, but what’s really struck me is how they’ve relaxed a little in my company, and I speak English with them around the college (I jumped for joy internally when one of them started an English conversation with me in a stairwell between lessons).

In conclusion, dear Reader, my first impressions of the beginning of my year abroad could not have been better, and although the initial headache of German paperwork was a strong one, it has all been worth it.

And if you ask me, that’s a fairly good place to start!

Posted in First impressions