Goodies from Romania
Monday, 5th of October 2015 Since Robert and Annika haven’t yet arrived back from Istanbul, I worked from home. Saving 2 hours which I usually spend commuting from home to work and back might not seem much, but when I can use that time to get an extra hour of sleep, it’s magical. 🙂 I can’t say that my work is stressful or exhausting, but years of freelancing and waking up whenever I could damn please, have made their toll on me, so it takes a while to adjust to a schedule. Tuesday, 6th of October 2015 In the evening the internet went down. This is probably the worst thing that can happen. Someone has accurately updated Maslow’s Pyramid of Needs, and you’ve probably seen this before: Wednesday, 7th of October 2015 We ate at Cooko’s but I forgot to take a picture. 🙁 So I’m just going to show you a picture of some bruschettes I baked in the oven: They’re kinda like pizza, but less tasty. Remind me not to buy them again. Thursday, 8th of October 2015 When I told you I’m probably going to change this blog into a food review blog you didn’t believe me. Well, here’s another episode… Today we all had lunch together. And when I mean all, I am referring to me, Zarko, Annika, Elsa and Robert. And when I mean lunch, I am talking about potatoes at Kumpir. Anyway, it was really nice to see that the Breeze team is growing. We all knew it was, but you don’t really realize it until we all gather together like we did today. Of course, we couldn’t resist buying some cake from Rewe supermarket. Friday, 9th of October 2015 Every day I am passing by a very peculiar monument. I am not sure what it commemorates. It obviously has something to do with war, but I found it really interesting how they used real bomb shells to create something of artistic value. “Oh Tudor, tell us some more about food.” Okay okay, hold your appetite. I recently discovered that I am an excellent cook. I can bake any frozen pizza in under 13 minutes! Beat that, Jamie Oliver! :-p Saturday, 10th of October 2015 Oh boy, oh boy, oh boy. Today I am going to go get the package full of goodies sent by my mum all the way from Romania. Oh but wait. What’s that reindeer doing on that poster? And why is he wearing a Christmas hat in October? Obviously, Germans are eager for Christmas to arrive. I even heard some Kaufland supermarket was already selling Santa-shaped chocolate. Be patient, Germany, we still have more than two months till Christmas. Finally got the goodies. Obviously, half of the weight of the package was occupied by “zacusca”: Thank you once again, mum, for sending me all these goodies. Special thanks also goes to Dana, Corina, aunt Livia and everyone else who contributed. I have immediately eaten a whole jar of zacusca, but then I decided to save the rest for some of my German friends. Sunday, 11th of October 2015 I see plenty of nice cars on the streets of Hamburg. And also some old retro cars. Like this one: So apparently Germans know how to appreciate good, old school design. We...read more
Happy birthday, Germany!
Monday, 28th of September 2015 False alarm. I’m not going to Istanbul, but my colleague, Annika will. I am happy for her, but I wonder if I will get another opportunity like this until the end of my internship. Now that I think about it, I kinda wish I was the one appointed to accompany Robert at the startup fair in Turkey. However, I do feel happy for Annika and I hope she will have an awesome time there. Today was quite a productive day, which came as a surprise, since Robert was out of town. I had to rebuild the entire web app wireframe in UXPin, as the previous version became corrupt for unknown reasons and wasn’t able to save it. Very disappointing, UXPin… very disappointing. Tuesday, 29th of September 2015 I wasn’t a coffee drinker at all before coming to Hamburg, but now it seems easier to be more energetic by starting the day with a nice, milky, hot cup of coffee. We usually drink the free coffee prepared by Primo Portal Hub (the building where we and other startups have their office), but this morning we were offered free coffee capsules for the coffee machine for which we would normally need an access card. Not a bad way to start the day. 🙂 My German is not very good, but once in a while I pick up fragments of conversation from people around me. Today I overheard Robert wishing “Alles Gute zum Geburtstag” to Annika on the phone. It means “Happy Birthday”. So later on I called Annika to wish her happy birthday, and she invited me and Zarko to the celebration party at her place in the evening. Of course, I accepted, but then I was faced with the dilemma of getting her a present. I knew she likes chocolate, so I went to the Alnatura supermarket to buy one, and I came across this tasting table: Why can’t we have nice things like this in Romania? I mean we do have tasting tables in supermarkets but there’s always someone there so that people won’t be greedy and eat everything. Here at Alnatura there wasn’t anyone. Just a small sign inviting you to try it. I had a great time at Annika’s birthday party and I met some new people. Just what I needed to end the day. me and Annika fooooood 🙂 Wednesday, 30th of September 2015 In order to keep my budget under control, I am using a nice spreadsheet template in Google Drive that calculates automatically all my spending and income. It’s the end of the month, so it’s time to draw the line. Aaaand I would love to say I am sustainable, but I’m not. I have exceeded the budget by 35 EURO. It’s not so much, but next month I will keep a closer eye on my spending and hopefully I will earn at least as much as I spend. We’ll see… Thursday, 1st of October 2015 In the evening I was invited by AIESEC to a German Dinner. I was disappointed to find out the others internationals decided not to join. It was just me, Yungfeng (another trainee just like me) and 5 other happy AIESECers. But the food was good. I had some Original Hamburg “Labskaus” which looked...read more
5 Debunked German Stereotypes
Monday, 21st of September 2015 Today was a casual working day. Robert had to leave for a few days, so feedback came slower than usual due to the fact that he has scarce access to an internet connection. So while waiting for feedback, I read some more about design and user behavior. For instance, did you know that while you are reading this post, you are actually following the so-called “F-Pattern”? Here’s an example (the more reddish, the more your eyes are drawn to that particular area): To simplify the image above, take a look at the scheme below: When you first open a website / webpage, the first place your eyes look at is the upper-right corner. I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but that’s where the logo of that website is usually placed. Then, your eyes scan the first horizontal line, moving to the right. Usually this is when you take a look at the menu of the website, which is placed on the first line. As you begin to read this article, you search for keywords, moving your eyesight on a vertical line on the left, basically reading the beginning of each paragraph. When one paragraph catches your attention you begin to read it, thus completing the “F-Pattern”. The process continues until the end of the article, so in the end you get sort of a “F”-like pattern, or how I like to call it: “the F on steroids”. 🙂 This is a very empowering information. Designers take advantage of this pattern to design performing websites that ultimately get more views. But I don’t want to bore you with “fun facts”. So let’s talk about something we can all relate to. Today I was craving for some chicken so I went to KFC. I found it surprising that there are only 4 KFCs in the whole of Hamburg, but what was more surprising was that they don’t have that delicious garlic sauce. Nope. That awesome, mouth-watering garlic sauce which is probably one of the main reasons I eat at KFC is… missing. In fact, there is not one garlic sauce at KFC in the whole of Germany! This, and the fact that torrent websites are forbidden in Germany, make me think twice about actually moving here for good. I’m serious. Tuesday, 22nd of September 2015 A good friend of mine, Mada, told me she would rather read about cultural shocks and other issues and challenges. Well, the reason I didn’t write about cultural shocks is because I haven’t really encountered so many. Maybe I am not paying close attention, but I could probably count the cultural shocks on just one hand. Let’s see… One: Germans don’t have a sense of humor False. I mean, yes – they are generally more serious than Eastern or Southern Europeans, but for example, me and my colleague, Annika, are always having a great time joking about mundane things like work or other colleagues at the office. Two: Germans are never late False. I have German colleagues at work and they are sometimes late. I’m not going to point fingers or anything. As for the buses… they are always late when it’s rush hour. Not the subway though. The subway is usually on time. Three: If it’s German, it’s high quality Partially false. The...read more
Surprise Children from Durex
Monday, 14th of September 2015 This morning at the subway two guys with saxophones and a boombox begun entertaining people. I think one of them was Romanian, although that’s not very important. What is important is that these guys, who didn’t seem to have higher education, managed to find a way to earn their living, in a quite original manner. I mean, how many times do you hear sax music on your way to work? Getting his saxophone out… …and playing like he was on a stage. Today, while waiting for Robert I read some more about flat design. I weighed the pros and the cons, and the conclusion was quite balanced: even though flat design is the new hype, sqeuomorphic and realistic design may still be appropriate, depending on the situation. I liked the analogy one author made by comparing a classical curved sink with a modern, almost minimalistic, flat-bottom one. The flat-bottom sink may look new and modern, but when the water from the faucet runs, it splashes all over the place, while the classical curved sink, although looking rather old and outdated, is more practical since it redirects the stream of water inwards. You can read the whole article here. Tonight I had a skype call with my dear executive board members from JCI Târgu-Mureș. It was nice to see them after more than a month, and talk about what has changed in the past period. I feel so sorry I can’t be there with them during such memorable times when we are about to obtain national membership. It is the culmination of more than a year’s work, and I am proud of what we have achieved so far. Oh, before I go, I need to tell you that today a new record number of unique users has been recorded. Almost 220 people have viewed my website today alone. I don’t know if that sounds a lot to you, but I’m not stopping here, and I’m aiming for the next goal: 500 unique visitors per day. 🙂 Tuesday, 15th of September 2015 In Robert’s absence, today I read more about design trends from an e-book I got from UXPin, which is called “Web Design Book of Trends 2015-2016” (click here to get it). If you’re into web design, or even graphic design, I think this is a must-read. With an intern salary, it’s a constant struggle to keep your costs under control and be financially sustainable. I was inspired by Zarko and today at lunch I had some canned soup which I heated up on the stove in the office kitchen. For 0.85 EURO, I had no idea it would taste so good. If I had lunch in a restaurant (as I usually do 3-4 times per week), the same dish would have cost me ten times more, so I think I’ll continue having soup for lunch a bit more often from now on. Wednesday, 16th of September 2015 Today at work there was just me, Robert and Annika. Zarko decided to work from home – something I will probably also do in the future if coming by the office wouldn’t be necessary. The working day was semi-productive. I did manage to finally design a graphic mockup that I like, for the web interface. It is a combination of...read more
First Month in Hamburg – Home Sweet Home?
Monday, 7th of September 2015 As I was riding the bus to work, something unexpected happened. A blonde lady made a U-turn right in the intersection, cutting the bus driver’s way. Can you guess what happened next? You guessed wrong! The driver didn’t say absolutely anything, didn’t lose his temper, didn’t honk, didn’t even sketch a grimace. He just waited patiently for the lady to finish the U-turn and go about her way, after which he continued driving calmly to the next station. I can only imagine how many curses the blonde lady would have received if she was in Bucharest. We should all learn from this, a true example of driving fair-play. At lunch, Zarko and I went to an Asian restaurant called Wild Rice. The food was excellent and plenty, probably the best way I could spend 7,50 EURO today. I had some crispy duck with sweet-sour sauce, while Zarko had chicken with curry: Every day I take the subway to and from work. And every day I pass by miles and miles of graffiti painstakingly drawn on the walls flanking the railroad. I probably wouldn’t appreciate a graffiti if it was placed on a monument or a nice building. But it’s all about context, and this time I can say the graffiti on the walls in the subway break the monotony and give them their own unique style. Tuesday, 8th of September 2015 Another day, another restaurant. 🙂 This time Robert and I went to “Otto’s Burger” and had a big juicy burger. That’s right, vegans and vegetarians – I ate meat and I liked it. I know that a cow had to die so that I would enjoy my lunch, but if you think about it… that cow probably wouldn’t have been born at all if it wasn’t for meat eaters like me. So before you call me a killer, just think that a cow actually lived for a while. Maybe not for long, but still, it lived and loved, and had happy cow dreams. Thanks to me. Food for thought… Wednesday, 9th of September 2015 Last night after taking a shower I came across a HUGE freakin’ spier in the bathroom! It wasn’t the first big spider I had to eliminate near my dorm room. It’s probably got something to do with the fact that I live in a semi-basement apartment and the windows are always open. Lunch seems to become the highlight of every day, and that’s not necessary a good thing, because this means the rest of the day is simply not interesting enough to write about on my blog. Anyway, I will torture you with yet another food photo. Today, Robert, Annika and I went to “Via Vai Pizza Al Taglio”, which is now one of the best places I’ve eaten at in Hamburg, equaling “Wild Rice Asian Restaurant”. You can almost smell the pizza just by looking at it: Thursday, 10th of September 2015 Routine. It can depress you, but at the same time it’s what you need to become better at what you do. I am neither depressed, nor can say that I’ve become a better designer. But I am learning new things every day. Today I spend almost all day reading articles about flat design versus skeuomorphism versus material design, and browsed through Google’s...read more
Riding the Tractor through Hamburg
Monday, 31st of August 2015 It was quite a normal start of the week. Robert left for Berlin until Friday, and I have quite a lot of tasks to resolve until he returns. When I left the office I came across a bizarre appearance on the streets of Hamburg – a tractor in the center of the city, driving alongside Volkswagens and BMWs: I arrived home and checked my mailbox… and surprise: I have received my brand new debit card from Haspa bank. Although it looks a bit weird without the 16-digit card number and I wonder how I am going to use it for online shopping. Tuesday, 1st of September 2015 While Robert is gone I have quite a lot of work to do, and unfortunately I still depend on him giving me prompt feedback. Things are not going very smooth because of this and I have to work at least 3 tasks in parallel. After work I went to the bank machine to withdraw some money. I managed to accomplish this task from the first trial, even though the interface was in German. While I was doing it, a thought crossed my mind, thinking this is how people playing at slot machines must feel like. Pushing random buttons and hoping for money to come out. 🙂 I also managed to make a monthly transportation subscription in the morning, but in the evening I wasn’t so happy with the acquisition as I learned that for just 10 EURO extra, I could have made a monthly subscription not only for 3 areas in Hamburg but for the whole Greater Area of Hamburg (rings A and B), which comprises pretty much all the important areas of this big city. So I went to Hauptbahnhof (Central Station) and I changed it, paying only the 10 EURO difference. Wednesday, 2nd of September 2015 I’m not sure how a coffee addict feels like, that is if he feels any different at all, but although I don’t fancy its taste, I do need that extra energy boost that only a cup of coffee can give. I didn’t drink any coffee before coming to Hamburg, and now I serve it hot, milky and sweet, every morning. Two things that I’ve noticed coming home from work: First, the bus got a bit more crowded, and I’m guessing it’s because people are back from their summer holidays. Second, there are more beggars on the street and on the subway than there are in Bucharest for example, which is quite paradoxical, since Germany is supposed to be a rich and developed country. When I took bus 179 towards the dorm I had to get off one station before Ueberseekolleg because the police made a road block on Alsterdorfer Strasse. I wanted to make a picture, but I didn’t want to look suspicious and be stopped by the “Polizei”. They looked intimidating enough even from the distance. Thursday, 3rd of September 2015 If you remember, I wrote in one of my previous posts that ZDF – the national German television – came to the office to make a report on Project Breeze. Well today, we appeared on TV. Click here to see the video. Pretty cool, huh? 🙂 In the video you can also see parts of the office. But what you can’t...read more
New People and New Professional Challenges
Monday, 24th of August 2015 What a day! And I don’t mean that from my perspective, but from the perspective of my Serbian colleague, Zarko. You’ll see what I mean if you read further. So in the morning I finally got to meet Ms. Postel, who turned out to be just as Stefan described her: a nice lady. She really liked the small souvenir cup from Romania that I gave her. On the other hand, she informed me that accommodation is paid in advance, which is 300 EURO, and besides that, I also have to pay a deposit of 360 EURO. This kinda ruined my financial plans and I will have to rethink them. At lunch, me and Zarko went to Haspa Bank near Altona to open up bank accounts. There was no problem for me, since Romania is part of the EU, but unfortunately Zarko had some issues, since he is from Serbia, which is not yet an EU member. Fortunately we were lucky enough to have an appointment with a nice lady who turned out to have emigrated from Croatia a decade ago, but could still speak fluent Serbian. I’m not sure what she and Zarko talked about, but she was very kind and helpful. It’s moments like these that I must say I am grateful for being an European Union citizen. It makes things so much easier for us, and a lot of time we take that for granted. On our way back home we came across a really nice idea: a free library in the bus. You could spend useful time in the bus reading a good book. And it’s all for free: You can find out interesting things if you pay attention. Like this sign from the toilet at the office which says: “What would MacGyver do?” (if he ever ran out of toilet paper) So… what would you do? 🙂 Tuesday, 25th of August 2015 New challenges at work. Today I had to review several wireframe apps in order to construct the web interfaces and website layouts. Translation: I had to find a program to draw pretty design prototypes. It’s not entirely new for me, since just this spring I had the opportunity to work in Balsamiq at Startup Weekend Mures, but this time it’s on a different professional level. On one hand I like that Robert is pushing me to learn new things, but on the other hand I am struggling with the insecurity of new territory, where I can’t perform unless I have patience to learn new technologies. On my way back home I heard Romanian being spoken on the street. It wasn’t the first time this happened. This time it was two lady beggars right outside the Altona station. And a second time, a family of four in the subway who weren’t acting very civil. Unfortunately most of the times I meet other Romanians in Hamburg I feel ashamed and don’t want to engage with them. And I almost begin to understand Germans’ and other Europeans’ preconceptions about my country. I mean… what else would you think about Romanians when all you see every day is these kind of people? More and more I feel the burden of responsibility to prove everyone that not all Romanians are like that. It’s...read more
First Week in Hamburg: Overwhelmed and Mixed Feelings
My first week in Hamburg comes to a close. It was just a week, but so many things happened that I feel it was a month. On Monday I begun my first day at Project Breeze. Since I wanted to make a good impression, I arrived at the office at 8:45 am. I was the first one to get there, but then I had to wait for more than an hour because everyone else arrived at 10:00. Joke’s on me I guess. Since then I decided to conform to the status quo and be there 10:00, just like normal people. 🙂 My first week at Project Breeze was more busy than I expected. I had to design about 5-6 different versions for a rollup before one was chosen as the winner. Robert seems to be quite demanding when it comes to design, and that’s not a bad thing when you want to challenge yourself and your design skills. After my first working day I was exhausted and went home only to realize I still haven’t found a fork to buy, so I had to eat my fish salad using only a knife. I guess it could have been worse: I might have been forced to eat using two sticks. 😉 There was another problem at my dorm. I had already spent the 250 Mb I had from the O2 mobile network, and theoretically I still had internet, but at very slow speed. Slower than a snail watching turtle porn. But I was promised by one of the tutors here at the dorm that I would have internet by Tuesday. Tuesday we had lunch at and Asian restaurant that Robert was familiar with. But since I had never eaten Vietnamese food before, I ordered the same as Robert. My food looked something like this: But it tasted sort of like a combination of wet socks and plastic noodles. Zarko on the other hand had some really really …. REALLY hot sushi: But enough about food. Back to work, and after the daily work program, a long but interesting brainstorm meeting on UI / UX. Wednesday morning, me and Zarko from Serbia went to register at an institution whose name I cannot spell, so I will just copy and paste it here: “Einwohnermeldeamt” in Eimsbüttel. Didn’t manage to solve anything, just to obtain a form which we had to complete. We realized we weren’t going to solve much all by ourselves and that we need the help of someone from AIESEC, so we wrote Stefan and he agreed to help us the next day. In the afternoon, ZDF TV came. ZDF is the national television here in Germany, so it was quite an achievement that they wanted to interview Robert about Project Breeze. Below you can see them in the background, with cameras and microphones, while in the foreground there’s Zarko and my laptop screen: Thursday we finally managed to get registered as interns working in Germany, thanks to Stefan who was very kind and although not having any sleep the previous night, took us to where we had to register, and then made appointments for us at the bank to get bank accounts next week. I even visited the AIESEC office in Hamburg and took some pictures for you: Quite a typical AIESEC...read more
And so it begins…
Sunday, 16th of August, around 23:00. I was getting ready for bed, since tomorrow is my first day of graphic design internship at Project Breeze. But I couldn’t have slept without telling you how my adventure begun. I arrived in Hamburg, Germany, 3 days ago and there’s so much to process when I look back. I left Tirgu-Mures Wednesday morning, heading to Oradea with my mother. After a day of shopping for Romanian souvenirs, the day has come for me to say goodbye and board a mini-bus to Budapest Airport, terminal 2. On my way there I was surprised to find out I was sharing the mini-bus with 2 other AIESECers. One of them was on his way to the Thai Embassy in Budapest to get his visa, and the other one was going in exchange to Tunisia. I actually got to spend a few hours in the Budapest Airport with the second AIESECer, but eventually we said goodbye to each other and after a thorough security check I boarded the plane that was going to take me to Hamburg… to freedom. At Hamburg airport I was awaited by Miko, whom I later found out would be the next President of AIESEC in Hamburg. We arrived at the flat where I was going to spend the next 2 days, in Stefan’s room. These two days would seem to pass quite fast, but before I left to my dorm where I was going to settle for the next months, I got a little taste of a German AIESEC party. Friday was the birthday of Norman (Vice-President Finance) and I think the following picture pretty much dismantles the myth that Germans don’t know how to have fun: Friday I also met Robert, Sascha, Annika and Zarko, during a complementary dinner from Project Breeze. They seemed to be nice people. Saturday I left my cozy bed in Stefan’s room and headed to the dorm. I met Ana Maria, a tough Colombian girl who was going to give me her dorm room, since she was moving to an apartment that was much closer to her workplace. And so I moved into this dorm room which is pretty clean and intimate, but more about my journey next week, because now I really need to go to bed so I won’t be late tomorrow on my first day at work. This article is meant to be just the first in the series which I have called “Freedom Addict Diary” and its purpose is, beside the one of a public diary, to inspire and encourage others to step out of their comfort zone and simply explore the World and themselves. Until next time… make an awesome week for...read more
On Planet Mars. That’s Where I See Myself in 10 Years.
I applied to the Mars-One program. The Mars-One’s objective is to select 2 men and 2 women and send them to Planet Mars in an attempt to create the first human settlement on the Red Planet in the year 2023. Help me become a part of the crew! Click on the button below to view my application video and if you liked it, please rate it 5 stars! (If you are using Google Chrome, you might not be able to watch the video because of some ads, so better use Mozilla Firefox or any other browser.) View My Application VIDEO . . . Also, you can help me spread the news. You can share this article or even better: you can share the facebook image promoting my application. View the Official Facebook Image ....read more