Remembering Helmut Schmidt: Hamburg mourns a legend

On November 10, 2015, just three days before the infamous Paris attacks, Hamburg lost a legend.

Helmut Schmidt, one of Germany’s most loved politicians and a Hamburg native, died.

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News of Schmidt’s death dominated the German newspapers on Nov. 11. Photo: Alison Haywood / Instagram.

Continue reading “Remembering Helmut Schmidt: Hamburg mourns a legend”

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The surprisingly slack standards of food safety in Germany

In the U.S., food workers are required to wash their hands multiple times a shift.
In the U.S., food workers are required to wash their hands multiple times a shift. Photo: Kelly Thomas

For a country known for its bloated bureaucracy and strict regulations, Germany has comparatively lax food safety laws – at least in comparison to Washington state.

To get my Washington food worker’s card, I had to watch a little video online about various food-related rules and answer simple questions related to them afterwards.

In Germany, I showed up one evening at a repurposed furniture store, sat in a crowded room, and watched a video on an ill-fated food worker who got a bad case of food poisoning and had to stay home three days from work. Continue reading “The surprisingly slack standards of food safety in Germany”

Stadtrallye – a different kind of new-student orientation

One of the most memorable university orientation events was the Stadtrallye. It turns out “rally” has a completely different meaning in German than in English, and rather than a pep assembly or political demonstration, this was more of a scavenger hunt/team challenge.

The challenges mostly involved a lot of alcohol.
The challenges mostly involved a lot of alcohol.

Continue reading “Stadtrallye – a different kind of new-student orientation”

Moving to Hamburg and the story of my summer

I got into a bit of a blogging slump this summer, so here’s a catch-all post of some of the highlights I’ve neglected to write about: Hamburg Pride, a Germany reunion with my dear friend Edwin, a brief weekend in Berlin, and a visit to Brighton, U.K.

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Trying to make the most of the short-lived sunny weather – paddle boating on the Alster with friends. (See below.)

Continue reading “Moving to Hamburg and the story of my summer”

What I am learning about German culture from working in a supermarket

To celebrate my new income, a few days later I got a haircut - badly needed, as you can see in this picture.
To celebrate my new income, a few days later I got a haircut – badly needed, as you can see in this picture.

After a month and a half of tangling with bureaucracy, bellyaching over budgets and nearly driving myself crazy with the amount of free time I had on my hands, I finally got a job.

I work at a supermarket chain collecting items for customers’ online orders and packing them neatly into boxes. I get to carry around a neat little scanner and push around a large shopping cart and learn the location of even the most obscure supermarket products, from Studentenfütter (which literally translates to student food and turns out to be a type of trail mix) to mango-flavored buttermilk (yes, Germans drink plain buttermilk, how gross) to Hüttenkäse (which literally translates to “little hut cheese,” which, as you may have guessed, is cottage cheese in English). Continue reading “What I am learning about German culture from working in a supermarket”