Geography lessons, gentrification and unexploded ordinances: a weekend in Aarhus

After more than a year away from Denmark, I took a weekend trip away from Hamburg to visit my friends in Aarhus.

Aarhus has changed, and it hasn’t. After a 4-and-a-half hour train ride due north, I found myself downtown in a city which I had once called my home. It was a surreal feeling, with everything at once so strange and so familiar.

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Downtown Aarhus. The gray clock tower in the middle is City Hall.

The EU has designated Aarhus the European Capital of Culture for the calendar year 2017, which means the city will be organizing a series of cultural events in order to draw visitors and make a name for itself.

According to Wikipedia, Preparing a European Capital of Culture can be an opportunity for the city to generate considerable cultural, social and economic benefits and it can help foster urban regeneration, change the city’s image and raise its visibility and profile on an international scale.

You know what another word for “urban regeneration” is? Gentrification. And the gentrification was hard to miss.

Continue reading “Geography lessons, gentrification and unexploded ordinances: a weekend in Aarhus”

Living in the shadow of World War II

For most Americans, World War II is nothing but a distant history lesson. As the people who lived through it slowly die out, it doesn’t really seem to exist outside of textbooks, tombstones, and the occasional war movie.

But for Germans, memories of the war are a daily reality and cannot be escaped.

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Square of the Deported Jews – your daily reminder that the Holocaust happened. This is located near Dammtor Station in Hamburg, where thousands of Jews were packed into trains and were sent to camps which almost inevitably lead to their deaths.

Continue reading “Living in the shadow of World War II”

#RefugeesWelcome

There is no hotter topic in German media right now than refugees.refugees-welcome

I’ve told several friends about my job teaching German to refugees and gotten a lot of positive feedback. Several have asked if I get paid (I do) and said they’d like to be involved in something like that, even on a volunteer basis. Everyone is talking about the refugee crisis right now, with Germany taking in more refugees per month now than it has in twelve months in the past. (I believe the statistic I heard was, Germany took in more refugees in June of this year than it did in all of 2013). Chancellor Angela Merkel is under close scrutiny for the country’s refugee policy right now, especially after that video of her accidentally making a little girl cry went viral. Continue reading “#RefugeesWelcome”

At a Wendepunkt … turning point

As the weather in Hamburg slowly shifts and is now firmly entrenched in fall, so, too, is my life changing, and instead of a supermarket warehouse worker, I’m starting to feel like a student again.

I grew up in Washington, the Evergreen State, so living somewhere with dramatic fall colors never ceases to awe me. If you like my photos, follow me on Instagram: https://instagram.com/alison_haywood/
I grew up in Washington, the Evergreen State, so living somewhere with dramatic fall colors never ceases to awe me. If you like my photos, follow me on Instagram: https://instagram.com/alison_haywood/

I quit my job at the supermarket, which had been bringing me down and taking up a lot of time for a while now, and now have three new jobs – the most exciting of which is definitely teaching German to refugee children.

Continue reading “At a Wendepunkt … turning point”