Two lovers in Germany’s loveliest city

Rebecca, a rocket scientist (yes, rocket scientist) from near Cambridge in the UK, met Dutchman Reinier, a grid analyst at Vattenfall, by chance in summer 2013. At the time, Rebecca wasn’t even living in Hamburg and Reinier had only lived here for just over a year.

Today, they are a happy hard-working couple enjoying the Hamburg urban hubub and their international lifestyle.

I wanted to know what brought each of them to Hamburg in the first place, and what keeps them here. Why Hamburg?

Continue reading Two lovers in Germany’s loveliest city

Second “Why Hamburg?” meeting and UPload at Shhared (19th February)

Following our first meeting, it would be great to have another informal meeting to talk about ideas in a quieter but nevertheless informal atmosphere. I think we’re still at the “norming, forming and storming” phase so let’s keep it simple again this time.

Time and Date

Alex organises monthly UPload meetings at Shhared which are very informal networking events with a bit of beer and food so we can descend upon him. I have asked him, and he said yes. (Thanks Alex.) The event starts at 6pm, but it’s fine if you come from 7pm if you’re coming in from somewhere else.

It’s on Thursday 19th February.

Agenda

The official part will start at 7pm:

Firstly: some news from Shhared and “Why Hamburg?”

Secondly: lightning talks (3 minute spontaneous talks) BUT strictly alternating between male and female speakers. If the supply of either gender dries up, then – too bad! – we move on to …

Thirdly: Informal chat, heated debate (as always at Shhared).

The last WH? meeting

At the last “Why Hamburg?” meeting we had people from Indonesia, Spain, Japan, France, UK and of course Germany. The aim of the community is to think (and ultimately act) about making Hamburg more international, for the benefit of both locals and expats. That’s why this is an invitation to everyone.

Getting to Shhared coworking space

Daimlerstraße 71c, Bahrenfeld, Altona.

Usually you can park in the car park next door (although strictly speaking, it’s not allowed so at your own risk).

By public transport, I find it’s best to get the M3 bus which takes roughly 10 minutes from Feldstraße and goes every 5 minutes. Or S-Bahn Bahrenfeld, served by the S1 and S11.

Use the HVV planner to find what’s easiest for you.

See you there!

Learning the language: someone’s got to give

Given the topic of this article, I should quickly explain the word play in the title. When you say “something’s got to give”, that can mean that there are two opposing interests or opinions and one person has to compromise, or just give in. Until yesterday, I thought this to be the case for the language issue.

The language issue?

Yes, the language issue. I mean this apparent paradox: people come to a foreign country, usually wanting to learn the language. But in order to survive here long enough to learn the language, they need to get up-and-running – getting a job, getting registered, finding a network of friends – without speaking German so that they can support themselves long enough to stay here and … learn the language.

So on the one hand, we shout at everyone here: “speak English!”

But everyone who has ever learnt a foreign language knows that you can’t learn a language without speaking it. So: “speak German to us!”.

I can imagine this gets confusing for the locals. They must think: “Can these people please make up their minds?”

German for beginners

Yesterday I interviewed Rebecca from the UK, who works near Johannes-Brahms-Platz (named after the world-famous composer who was born and lived a long time in Hamburg). The article will be appearing in the next couple of weeks – please be patient!

Rebecca came up with a great idea: how about events that are in German, but aimed at people who are non-native speakers? This makes expectations clear from the start of the event: everybody is there to speak German, including during the networking afterwards; it’s ok not to understand everything (and to say so); and you don’t have to worry that people will snap into English as soon as you look puzzled.

We’re in this together: someone’s got to give

Hence the word play in the title. Not “something’s got to give” because we’re all in this together. In return for help learning the language, we can provide immersive environments for non-native speakers. This is a big advantage for people who do business internationally. It’s also just nice.

By having events for English learners and German learners, and making expectations clear, I think we can make Hamburg a better place for international people, and do our bit to make our city more successful internationally. We’ve all got to give – and can only benefit by doing so.