Finding the best of both worlds in Hamburg

7 February 2019

Emanuela reflects on the highlights of her semester in Hamburg and her year abroad as a whole.

emanuela blog 4

The other day I helped a friend moving out of her Hamburg room to go back to England. She was also here on Erasmus and she’s been my partner in crime throughout the term. During the train ride to the airport, I had one of those classic looking-out-the-window epiphanies and I found myself drawing a balance of my own experience in Hamburg through the lenses of her departure. 

Deichstrasse, Hamburg

I remembered, for example, how it felt like when we first arrived in Hamburg in late March and we were greeted by snow and winter winds that made the welcome week's Sommersemester presentations seem like a joke. We would wonder and repeat how nice it would be “when the leaves would be on the trees”. Then spring came, uni was in full swing and before we realised it, we had already got attached to Hamburg and seen it was nice indeed. 

Hamburg has really a lot to offer and being here for the summer term allowed me to exploit the city's potential to the fullest: having barbecues and picnics in the park, going rowing on the river, wandering around the impressive warehouse district and the vibrant Jungfernstieg area and chilling at the Elbstrand were all fun and heart-warming moments. 

Hamburg is a city where things work (the transport system is extremely fast and efficient), a green city where you find the right equilibrium between fun and relaxation, a city never too loud and chaotic, but also never boring. 


As I mentioned in my previous blog, the activities of the PIASTA and Buddy-Programm are definitely a highlight of Uni Hamburg and I would absolutely recommend taking part in as many as possible.My favourites this semester were the visit to Chocoversum and Miniatur Wunderland and the trip to Kieler Woche. Chocoversum is every chocolate lover’s dream: a museum where you get to see the processing of cocoa beans into the finished chocolate (and try it in every single phase). What’s more, you get to select your favourite ingredients to make a chocolate bar that you can take home. 

Miniatur Wunderland is the largest model railway in the world. It includes reproductions of Hamburg, Rome, Scandinavia, Arizona and many other places, as well as an erupting volcano and a functioning airport. With its through details and its plentiful animations, the Miniatur is a place for travel lovers and the young at heart. 
Finally, the Kieler Woche is one of the largest sailing festivals in the world, taking place in Kiel, a city one hour away from Hamburg. If you are fascinated by water and everything maritime, this is definitely an event for you. Besides ships and water activities, there was an overwhelming offer of international food and an exposition of old cars. Oh, I also got to stroll in a balloon (a soon-to-be hot air balloon). Kinda weird, but fun too. 


The only buzzkiller of my time in Hamburg was my endless daily struggle with the German language. I think any German learner can relate to this. 
Unlike when I was in Mexico, everybody I met here spoke English, making it way too easy and too tempting to just chat in English and forget about the “mission” of improving my German skills. Again, the PIASTA program came handy: through it I got two language partners with whom I could practice the language in an informal way, while simultaneously helping them to improve Italian or English. 

Finally, meeting Mexican people here in Hamburg made my Erasmus. Despite enjoying Hamburg and having European friends here, in fact, I was missing la buena vibra, the vibe so to say, that made me fall in love with Mexico and its people and that Germany simply lacks. Having Mexican friends in Hamburg gave me “the best of both worlds” to put it that way. 

Perhaps the most interesting aspect of my Year Abroad was precisely experiencing the clash and the transition between the two countries I have been to. Although I would have loved to spend a full year in both Hamburg and Mexico City, time restriction forced me to split the year between them. Both gave me awesome memories, people, skills. I loved and I hated both depending on the moments. Experiences abroad are never long straights roads, they are always rollercoasters. The deal is enjoying the ride. And of course, when you find one you really like, repeat it. Did I mention I’m going back to Mexico in one month? 

To all the “not lost” wanderers, goodbye.

By Emanuela Conti