Greetings from Hamburg!
I’m Shinui Kim from IEDP and right now doing my internship in Hamburg, Germany, till the end of August. This is my first blog post on my internship experience and it will be divided into three parts, before the first day at work, first week at work, and Hamburg.
1. Before my first day at work
There were few things to consider before I arrived in Hamburg. The first thing was, as you can all guess, housing.
Living expense in Hamburg is quite expensive and it is hard to find a good place to live for three months with low price. I had looked for many housing options from Airbnb to other house rent websites, but most of the options exceeded my budget. Luckily, before May, a cohort who is also going to Hamburg with me for her internship, found a house. A Chinese couple owns this house and there are other Chinese students who share it. Since the price was reasonable and the distance from the institute was not that far, I accepted the offer.
I think it was a good choice to live in a shared house because all the basic stuffs needed for your daily life were offered by the landlord. It is hard to decide whether you should buy things, such as an electronic kettle, mattress, pot and pan, since you are going to stay just for three months for the internship. Also things like pillow, bed sheets, and blanket are heavy to carry but also buying those seems like a waste of money because you have to throw them away after three months. However, I did not have to worry about these things because those were all prepared. It seems like a minor concern, but this has always been my biggest concern based on a lot of traveling and living-abroad experiences. However, it was easily solved by looking for a shared house. So I recommend looking for a shared house if Airbnb is too expensive and you have to stay less than 3 months. The house where I’m staying is located in a suburban residential area, so it is very serene at night and lets you take a good rest after coming back from the work.
Also another thing to consider was public transportation. There is an app, called ‘HVV’, and this app shows you how to get to a certain place, using public transportation, including bus, train and subway. Additionally, you can purchase the ticket at the same time through the app. It quite precisely tells you when the bus, train, or subway will arrive. So I use this app to purchase the ticket every day to get to the working place because public transportation system in Hamburg is quite fast, clean and well-organized. Also there is an option to buy a monthly ticket, but I haven’t tried it yet.
Other than these things, there aren’t many things to worry about because Hamburg is a big city and has almost everything you need. Also it is a very friendly city to foreigners so I did not have a hard time adapting to a new environment.
2. The first week at work
The first week was mostly consisted of a series of introductions because the institute is big and has a long history so there are a lot of things to learn.
On the first day, Jan, the librarian, gave us a brief introduction about the internship and all of the interns were assigned a desk. All of the interns and fellows stay at one office on the first floor and there were six other interns and one fellow, including another IEDPer, at the office.
The next day, I and other two interns were assigned to a team. All three of us met a supervisor and there was an introduction on the institute and the projects we were assigned to and what we will be doing. After a briefing session, there was a tour and we were introduced to other staffs in the building. Everyone was welcoming and friendly.
There was another briefing session on the first week, which was about using library system. So the institute where I work owns the biggest library on lifelong learning material. As an intern, I could get all the access to the resources, either online or offline. We learned how to use the library system, and it felt good to see all the resources we have access to.
Also Jan, the librarian, gave us a tour to the library downstairs, and taught us how to find and lend books. The books were organized based on the topics and all the topics looked interesting. There were a lot of resources and teaching materials that I can’t normally see, so it was so interesting. I look forward to spending a lot of time reading all these while staying here!
There were several more sessions on work and an operating system. So, yes.. It has been quite busy and took some time for me to adapt to this new environment. However, I was assigned to do a research on a literacy program and I feel lucky that the work was assigned so fast because having a concrete thing to do everyday makes me feel like I have already adapted and found my place in this institute!
This is the last part, and it is about the city where I live right now!
As I mentioned earlier, Hamburg is an international city and I think foreigners wouldn’t find this city a tough place to live. A lot of people speak English well and you wouldn’t feel that uncomfortable even if you don’t speak good German. However, I am planning on attending an academy to learn German because I feel like I have to. One of the intern, who stayed here already for three months, gave me information on German language course and I will visit there soon! (Maybe this could be my next blog post…?)
Also people here are very nice and are willing to help you if you need a hand. (At least I felt that way) Just smile and don’t be afraid of approaching others and asking for a help because you are a foreigner. I think this applies wherever you go. Don’t have a prejudice on people and try to be nice and kind, and then people will respond to you with kindness. This is a little tip I got based on several experiences of living abroad. If you are too shy to approach others, then just smile at least (This is what I do when I get shy and feel awkward. haha…).
I like to stay at home as much as I can, because I feel comfort and serenity at home (especially when I’m alone). However, during this three months of internship, I am trying to force myself to go outside more because Hamburg is a beautiful city. It is not a huge city, but it has beautiful architectures and lakes and rivers around, and I love it! Also the daytime is enormously long so it feels safe to walk around until 9pm.
So far, everything is perfect except for the lack of energy due to adaptation. My personal goal is to explore the city more and go outside as much as I can. I think I can succeed this time because the city is adorable.