There comes a time when you must bid farewell to your adopted country and the time for me is nigh; in less than a week I shall be back in England’s green and pleasant land. It is funny how, after a long period of time abroad, you find yourself with very mixed emotions at the thought of going home. The things that at the beginning of your stay that you could not get used to, the bizarre foods perhaps, the strange customs, are the things that you will actually miss when you leave to go ‘home.’ The difficulty is, when you actually get home it doesn’t much feel like that anymore, though when you first arrived you may have been counting down the days until you could go home. As such, I would like to share with you a few of the things I will miss about Germany and Hamburg, ‘die schönste Stadt der Welt,’ (the most beautiful city in the world, a phrase coined by the locals) when I am back at home drinking tea and eating chocolate hobnobs.
As you may have gathered from previous articles I am quite the fan of German cuisine, possibly one of the only foreigners to enjoy it, but nonetheless I do. Of course, German food is not a million miles away from English food as we also eat copious amounts of fried food, however I will be at a loss as to where to find a Bratwurst in England. At least there is the option of a cheap Ryanair fight back to Germany if the cravings get too much!
Since the snow melted here in Hamburg, I have become an avid cyclist and will certainly miss my daily bike rides, though I am sure the people of Hamburg will not miss me swerving all over their cycle paths. I haven’t quite mastered a) the art of cycling in a straight line and b) cycling at break neck speed as the Germans like to do quite yet. I like to cycle at a more leisurely pace, taking in the sights, whereas the Germans tend to race around like Michael Schumacher. Germany is geared up for cycling, unlike England, though I understand sales of bikes have rocketed recently due to the credit crunch. I would love to cycle more in England; however the lack of cycle paths means you have to ride in the road, which just isn’t safe.
I am currently undecided as to whether or not I will miss my daily battle with the German language. It certainly provides entertainment for me and the Germans I am trying to talk to, therefore my days are far from dull. Going back to a country where everyone speaks my language may, I fear, prove rather tedious – no more stilted conversations or misunderstandings. There is, however, no doubt that life will be easier in my mother tongue.
One of the things I love about Hamburg is that the locals love their city and are extremely proud of it, calling it ‘die schönste Stadt der Welt.’ I recently asked my landlady if she was originally from Hamburg (also known as HH – Hanseatische or Hanseatic Hamburg) and she replied, ‘Yes, I couldn’t think of anywhere better to live.’ After 4 months here I am inclined to agree, I will certainly miss living in die schönste Stadt der Welt. Even this statement that I thought a bit of an exaggeration at first I find myself agreeing with. Anyone who has been to Hamburg (not just the Reeperbahn!) becomes enchanted by it. The pride in their city is evident all across Hamburg; the city flag can be seen flying in the wind (it’s very windy here) not only from municipal buildings, but people’s homes, from restaurants, at the Harbour, on the Alster. Red, the colour of Hamburg, is also evident on lots of things here – from the free city bikes I ride to work on to the bins, which have messages on them such as ‘Ich fresse auch Hamburger,’ meaning ‘I also eat Hamburgers’, a pun on the word Hamburger as people from Hamburg are called Hamburger. The quirky red bins always make me smile with their witty sayings. It may be odd to talk about bins, but it is little things like this that are quintessentially ‘Hamburg’ and show that thought has gone into making the city look nice. Such small things would be overlooked in England and probably considered a ‘waste of money.’ It is a real shame that people in England do not have the same level of pride in their cities. Hamburg even has a weekend of celebrations every year for its birthday; I doubt many people in England even know when their city was founded. Of course, Brits are proud of their city when it comes to Football, as are the Germans – The FC St Pauli flag (the local football team) can also be seen waving from balconies all across the city, however it is a shame us Brits aren’t enthusiastic about much else when it comes to their country or city.
Hamburg, it’s been a blast. Goodbye seems somewhat final as I know I will be back, so in the true sense of auf Wiedersehen, until we see each other again.