Hamburg, Germany – Top 10 things I will miss about living here
Kristi Fuoco


One of my favourite views - looking over the Alster towards downtown Hamburg at sunset.


I know in two weeks when I board the plane back to Vancouver and say a final goodbye to Hamburg, Germany I am going to bawl my eyes out. I never expected it, but this city and country found a place in my heart and grabbed on tight. So, as I reflect on my last wonderful 18 months in Germany, and prepare for my move home, I wanted to get a couple of blog posts out. Back in early 2012 as I prepared for my move here, I wrote two posts; one positive, and one more critical, about leaving my beautiful but sometimes exasperating Vancouver. My sister was really the one to inspire the follow up, encouraging me to write the same posts before leaving Hamburg.  And so, without further ado, here is the first post and some of the things I will miss the most about this wonderful and complex country.


1. All my amazing friends, students and the people I have met here. This has to be number one! People make a place and I am happy to say I now have a whole new set of amazing friends in Europe and around the world. So many of my nights out I would look around and realize that there were five or six countries represented at one table. This is what kept me going on those tough, expat days.

I love this shot from my birthday/going away party this year as I gave a little “goodbye speech” of sorts and started tearing up, this moment was caught on camera by my friend Yvonne (and incidentally there are five or six countries represented in this photo). Obviously there are many, many more people and I can’t post photos of them all, but I will miss each and every one of them!

2. The food and drinks – particularly the beer, bread and chocolate. I want to take it all home with me. Like all of it. And the cheapness of it all. Oh man, it’s going to hurt to go back to pricey Vancouver, I tell ya.


A fridge full of yummy German food and drinks!



3. The amazing party scene and how easy and cheap it is here to go out and stay out. Trains run all night on the weekends, clubs and bars stay open all night, tons of places have no cover charge. You can find every style of music, every scene. It’s really hard to beat and I’m gonna miss it like crazy when I return to what some call “no fun city”!


This was a crazy night after called “Schlagermove” in Hamburg where people dress in nutty 60s/70s/80s clothes, get ridiculously drunk and sing Schlager songs. The amazing thing is ….the next morning this place (the Reeperbahn) would be spotless!

4. The beauty, humour and logic of German words. There I did it, I used the word “beauty” AND “humour” in the same sentence as “German.” See, I’ve grown. I really have come to appreciate the German language, though I still have trouble feeling comfortable in it and often just want to speak English, I just love some German words. They sum up concepts and ideas in the most spot on and often adorable way. Like “Kopfkissen” for pillow (head kiss) or “Fußgänger” for pedestrian (foot goer but sounds like “foot gang” to me…I imagine a group of thugs.)


A typical German packaged treat – a Milch-Schnitte literally translates as “Milk slice”. Sounds SO much healthier that way – yes please! (I particularly like the placement on my English grammar book here…the treat was a gift from my students)


5. Being able to hop on a plane or train and be in a different country with a potentially different climate in just a couple hours. This is not Germany specific (most of Europe can be included here), but man am I going to miss this part of living in Europe!


On a whim I decided to book four days in Stockholm, Sweden in the summer and hop on over. It was lovely!

6. Being a foreigner. This one is a bit strange because at times I hate being the foreigner and at times I love it. But at the end of the day, people always find you more interesting, and are often a lot more accommodating when you can pull the foreigner card – especially being a Canadian in Germany since I’m happy to say, Germans seem to really love Canada.

This year a few of us Canadian expats in Hamburg got together at an Irish pub and celebrated Canada Day – everyone stared. We were cute. It was fun.


I never get tired of seeing fanny packs
for sale here. This particular stand was
at the famous Hamburg fish market.
7. The adorableness of Germans. Adorable? Germans? You might ask. But it’s true. Germans are so cute. Okay okay this may sound a little condescending but it’s true. They care about the really really tiny details of life and about making everything just so (okay I find this one equally cute and annoying depending on my mood and the person) and they not only have a word for everything, but words for how to do everything. They are proud of their nerdiness (in fact I don’t think they realize that they are nerdy.) They watch Eurovision and think it’s great. They drink beer by the litre and sing cheesy songs and dress up in 80s clothes and still dye their hair pink. They still wear fanny packs. They don’t get small talk. They love to be the best at everything and like everything to be the best and they don’t understand the concept of “bad quality.” They are über (to use a Denglish word) safety conscious and yet their highways have no speed limits and they think driving over 200 kilometres an hour is totally normal (I happen to love this fact.) Their motorbike gangs wear safety vests. The men don’t know how to flirt, but they pull out lines like, “I like your glasses” or “You are funny and sexually attracting” that you can’t help but be charmed by. They may seem cold and tough on the outside at times but are warm and fuzzy in the middle. What can I say? I love Germans.

8. Getting delicious fresh baked goods in scuzzy looking train stations. Okay, nothing in Germany is really that scuzzy looking compared to most other parts of the world, but you never really expect to get anything good from a train station, but in Germany you can get mouth watering, deliciously calorie packed, foodgasmic hot and fresh pastries on your ride to or from work. I have tried to cut back on this dangerous habit but I’m really, really going to miss it.

On the right a classic Hamburg pastry – the Franzbrötchen and on the left some delicious apple thingy. Totally healthy of course.


9. Taking the train. Yes, sometimes train travel and the lateness of trains drives me crazy (see my post on Germany – a land of contradictions), but I absolutely love that not only can you take the train anywhere in the city, but you can take it all over the country. And if you know when to buy, you can get great deals too. There is nothing quite as wonderful as sitting on a quiet, lovely, cushy train, looking out the window on the way to an adventure.

The logos for the U-Bahn and S-Bahn trains which can get you pretty much anywhere in Hamburg.

10.  Being able to tune everyone out whenever I want to. I had a strange experience when I was in London last week, I realized that I could understand all the conversations and people around me and it was completely unnerving! I had no idea that one of the things that frustrates me so much (not being able to understand German completely), would also be an amazing respite for me. I love sitting on the train and being able to so easily tune out everyone around me, even without music. I can understand German conversations now, but only when I concentrate. I will miss this built in internal ipod. Good thing I have a real one for when I get back home.

Tuning out in a park in Stockholm…works in every foreign country!



Stay tuned for the Top 10 things I will NOT miss about living in Hamburg, Germany….



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Kristi Fuoco

 KRISTI FUOCO – Social media enthusiast, English teacher, writer, marketer, traveler, music lover. West Coast Canadian gal living and working in Germany and traveling around Europe. Current city – Hamburg.

Twitter: @kristifuoco

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My experience in Germany has been invaluable. In addition to learning German and taking part in another culture, I have learned so much about myself. I am confident that I can thrive away from the comforts of home and that I am dynamic and flexible. This is exactly what today’s employers are looking for – giving me a competitive advantage in the working world.
Kate from British Columbia – working for an international not-for-profit organisation.