Experiencing culture shock in Hamburg, Germany

Culture Shock in Europe

August 9, 2018

August 9, 2018

From stepping off the plane through that first night of walking into the city, I loved taking in the art and design of Hamburg. All the signage was so incredibly clean and simple, the old architecture so gorgeously detailed, and the street art and graffiti so uniquely untouched.

First experiences in Hamburg, Germany


These things that are so engrained in the culture are what brought on this three-month trip in the first place, but left me craving any sort of familiarity after a couple days. I found myself in grocery stores looking for the brands and products I was used to (#sendpeanutbutter), staring at waiters speechless suddenly not knowing what words to use despite studying German pre-trip, and questioning the etiquette in every public situation I was in.


Hamburg summer evening picnic in the park watching the sailboats


When seeing all these incredible places on Pinterest and Instagram I just imagined myself within the gorgeous visuals without considering the other ways every day life might be different along with it. Once I was able to shift my mindset and embrace the fact that every aspect is a part of the culture it became easier to adjust. I booked airbnb’s in neighborhoods in order to do just that. It just became a matter of realizing things might be a little harder than life in Madison or Chicago, when there can be a bit of embarrassment for not knowing everything like a local and the occasional shame inflicted on us for being Americans.



But since this trip was not meant to be just the Americanized tourist version, we’re spending a week in each place so we can get to know the city and kind of “live” there for a week. We start each morning with a workout and then with some excursion, whether it is to a local park or neighborhood. Then we spend each night out, occasionally at some kind of festival, movie on the square, or  music in the park. Each afternoon we spend at the airbnb relaxing or working on something creative, things we would normally do in our downtime at home. So I had to realize THAT is what’s familiar. Its not the things in the culture but what we do with them that makes it feel normal. How we spend our days. What kinds of events we attend. With that I’ve been able to move past that brief “oh my god we’re doing this for three months” anxiety and embrace this incredible opportunity.


Hamburg architecture

Hamburg, Germany ice cream stand

Graffiti in Hamburg, Germany