The people I met in Hamburg were so open and welcoming that I could see and understand why
the Germans are known for their hospitality. The first German student I met, Bernd, went out of
his way to guide us around campus and provide us a place to stay when our dorms were not yet
available. A new friend, Christianne, enthusiastically introduced me to different types of German
food and beer. Another friend, Cibele, as well showed me around the city.
The students I worked with in the lab were also eager to teach me about and share with me their
customs and traditions. Through it I realized that German culture has many American influences.
For instance, much of the music played in clubs and bars are mainstream popular songs that are
streaming now on the radio in the U.S. They also never had a concept of prom, or having any
type of dressy dance at the end of their high school senior year, until recently.
However Germany has its own unique traditions that I found unusual, but interesting. In
Hamburg, for a bachelor party, the festivity does involve drinking and celebration, but in
addition there is also usually a group of friends that is selling small trinkets such as pens or key
chains on the side to raise money for the party that is currently going on.
There is also a custom for someone that is turning 30 and not married. On their birthday their
friends scatter a pile of some sort of small objects around, like marbles or paper clips, and then
make them sweep it all up. I don’t understand the tradition, but it’s intriguing and entertaining.
In turn, the students in the lab were very eager to learn about U.S. as well. I find it interesting
that they perceive New York City as an exciting, foreign place, in the same way that I perceive
Europe as. For me, because I am a resident here, I find the city life more normal and I haven’t
visited major tourist sites like the Statue of Liberty or the Empire State building because I can do
it anytime. But for them it is new and a different type of environment to be in. In the same way, I
traveled to many major cities in Europe that the European students had never visited.
The students in the lab.
Fabian, Justine, Francesca, Me, Professor Ernst
Dhongik, Claas, Mats, Petra