This site is now archived (but hopefully still worth a read)

I realised a while ago that I’d done all I wanted to do with the “Why Hamburg?” project – I think I’ve got as close as I ever will to understanding why people move to Hamburg, short of studying a PhD in urban development.

That’s why I decided to archive this website. By “archive”, I mean stop adding content to it but continue to make it available as a static website.

I’m glad I embarked upon this project at the end of 2013: I’ve met so many great people by doing so, been asked my opinion as an “expert” on the topic, and it’s helped me understand better how international people – of whom I am one – fit into Hamburg. My broad conclusion on that topic is that “international” isn’t really a separate category but something we can dip in and out of, an identity if you like, when it suits us. Trying to identify exactly what it is is like trying to nail jelly to a wall.

Anyway, that’s all from me for the time being. Thanks to everyone for reading and sharing my articles over the past couple of years – and of course a big thank you to everyone who let me interview them.

Mahmoud Aldaas from Damascus

Mahmoud Aldaas, a web developer from Damascus, arrived in Hamburg in October 2014. Neither quick nor easy, his journey took in Turkey, Greece, Serbia, Hungary and Austria with several months waiting in some countries. He and a friend eventually arrived in Bremen, before presenting themselves to police and being allocated to Hamburg.

Even then he wasn’t sure about his status: for almost a year, Mahmoud was waiting to find out whether he would be returned to Hungary.

Mahmoud has since been able to settle in a little bit more, although he is still waiting for a decision on his asylum claim and work permit. I spoke to him about how he’s managing to contribute his skills and expertise in difficult circumstances, how he arrived, and of course: why Hamburg? If you want to listen to the full interview, subscribe to the podcast.

Continue reading Mahmoud Aldaas from Damascus

Episode 4: Mahmoud Aldaas from Damascus

Welcome to the 4th episode of the “Why Hamburg?” podcast. After speaking briefly about all the news of any relevance to international people I could find, we swiftly move on to talk about how and why Mahmoud Aldaas ended up in Hamburg. We spoke a lot about his work at DeepBlue Networks, where he has just finished his orientational internship and will start work as soon as his work permit comes through. We spoke a little bit about the process for getting a work permit, so that may be of use to other people.

Continue reading Episode 4: Mahmoud Aldaas from Damascus

Episode 3: Talking to Ryan Scharfer about the Olympic referendum and why he came to Hamburg

Ryan Scharfer came from Chicago to Germany in 2009. Originally he only planned to stay for a year but returned in 2011. I spoke to him about why he came to Hamburg, but also about the big topic everyone in Hamburg is talking about: the referendum on Hamburg’s Olympic bid.

India Week – talking to Anita Shukla

When I first started this blog, the plan was to do interviews just with non-German people, asking them why they came to Hamburg. Well not for the first time, I have decided to interview somebody from Germany: Anita Shukla.

This is because Anita Shukla is able to give a unique perspective from her own experience working with internationals, in particular Indians. And with India Week coming up (block your diary from 2nd to 8th November by the way), what better time to take a look at Hamburg’s ties to India?

What is it about India that makes it such a sought-after trading partner? Anita Shukla told me a bit about India, herself, and Hamburg’s relations with India.

Continue reading India Week – talking to Anita Shukla

Who’s allowed to vote in Hamburg’s upcoming Olympic referendum?

I was doing a bit of research for the latest episode of the “Why Hamburg?” podcast and wondered whether the referendum on 29th November regarding Hamburg’s Olympic bid would be open to everyone. And by everyone, I mean people like us – many of whom don’t have German citizenship.

There are plenty of (German-language) articles about the referendum, but it was quite difficult to find anything regarding who is allowed to vote and, specifically, whether non-German citizens are included.

Continue reading Who’s allowed to vote in Hamburg’s upcoming Olympic referendum?

Podcast episode 2 – with guest Irene Broer from Gute Leute Magazine

Wahey! The second edition of the new podcast.

Today, Alex Ahom (Shhared founder) and I spoke to Irene Broer. Irene is from the Netherlands and has been living in Hamburg for two years. In the podcast she tells us about why she came to Hamburg, and about the upcoming Gute Leute Magazine – Hamburg’s first English language print magazine – that she and Sabela Garcia are publishing at the end of November.

We also talked about the Olympics, including the – OUTRAGEOUS – fact that Hamburgians (or Hamburgites, or Hamburgees) who are non-German are not allowed to vote in the upcoming referendum. And then some other bits of news.

The podcast, as ever, was recorded using Google Hangouts on Air and the audio was then uploaded here as a podcast.

Continue reading Podcast episode 2 – with guest Irene Broer from Gute Leute Magazine

“Why Hamburg?” podcast in English

This is the maiden episode of the “Why Hamburg?” podcast. Alex Ahom and I were sat at Shhared and I asked him whether he would be interested in taking part … and he said “yes” – which he had to really, considering he’d just written an article about the power of “yes”.

So within about an hour, we got started. The idea is to talk about issues, in English, that international people in Hamburg face and to update them on some news. Considering how spontaneous the whole thing was, I don’t think we did a bad job!

What we talked about

In this episode, we talked about some news – including Sabela’s new magazine “Gute Leute”, Hamburg’s loss and Mozilla’s gain of Katharina Borchert (previously Chief Editor of Spiegel Online), India Week, the recent announcement of the dates for the next Social Media Week Hamburg, and more.

Continue reading “Why Hamburg?” podcast in English

Gute Leute – Hamburg’s first English language magazine

Sabela Garcia has already featured on this blog. At that time, she was working for a startup and told me how she came to Hamburg.

Now, she is starting a venture of her own – and as a permanent fixture within the startup scene, a Hamburgian with an international background, and a natural-born connector, she had the idea to start a print magazine about the international scene in Hamburg.

Continue reading Gute Leute – Hamburg’s first English language magazine

A warm welcome for refugees makes Hamburg more pleasant for us all.

This blog is about people who choose to come to Hamburg, and most people whom I have spoken to so far have been young professionals, often from within the startup scene. While some people I speak to have difficulty acquiring permission to live within Europe, many others are lucky enough – as I am – to enjoy freedom of movement within the European Economic Area.

In recent months, an increasing number of people have sought to gain access to fortress Europe. Many are fleeing civil wars, such as in Syria, and are seeking sanctuary within our borders.

Now is the time to remember that, however ill-defined the group of “internationals” we talk about is, anyone who comes from a different country is in. This has to be said because it is all to easy to think of the creative class as the designers, developers and creatives who have gone to western universities and cross borders in the priority lane.

Continue reading A warm welcome for refugees makes Hamburg more pleasant for us all.