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 up to me to set an example and make that one degree change in people’s mindset.
Wednesday, 26th of August 2015
We had our first regular weekly meeting, called “Breeze All Hands Meeting”. We all made updates on our areas, and Robert announced we will soon be able to produce our first air sensor devices that we will be able to sell, as soon as some components arrive from China.
When I arrived home, I found my accommodation contract from Miss Postel and two letters from Haspa in the mailbox. Since I couldn’t understand German, I went outside and asked some nice young students to help me. They turned out to be from Poland: Dave, Alex (girl) and her sister, Victoria. Dave translated the letter to me and I was able to access my online bank account. The outside courtyard here at the dorm seems to be a good place to hang out and make new friends, on two conditions: that I have time to waste and that it doesn’t rain in Hamburg. These two conditions are rarely met simultaneously.
Thursday, 27th of August 2015
This morning, a young man approached me on facebook chat. He had rainbow-style profile photo, and since I had a similar photo, he started to hit on me, thinking I was gay too. So I felt like explaining myself, re-sharing my profile photo and writing that I am heterosexual, but I defend the gay rights, and I am not the only one. This started an endless comment discussion with all sort of homophobic remarks from radical people, trying to explain why it is an abomination to defend the gay’s right to adopt children. Some of my friends defended my point of view, but we soon grew tired of fighting the windmills, like Don Quixote. I too once thought it is abnormal to be gay, but after learning there are hundreds of animal species who conduct homosexual behaviors, I changed my views and since have been defending gay rights by engaging in projects conducted by the Romanian Humanist Association, whose executive board I am part of.
At lunch we had some complementary potato soup, due to a workshop in the office building. While serving my soup in the kitchen I met Vincent, a Spanish web developer living in Germany for 5 years now, who was also working as an intern in a startup which was part of the Startup Europe accelerator program, just as Project Breeze. Soon after lunch, he asked for my help with some Photoshop image and I managed to help him. I am always looking for chances like this to meet new people and who knows what business opportunities will occur in the future.
While working on our user interface, I made some research on UX / UI and realized I was skipping some steps in the process and jumped straight to the mock-up stage. So I stopped everything started with the first step: the idea phase.
The office toilet seems to be an endless source of inspiration. Here’s another practical idea I came accross:
Friday, 28th of August 2015
Today I received new complex tasks at work, like designing a new website and creating a corporate design guidelines manual. I’m learning by doing, and this is probably the best way.
At lunch , me, Robert, Zarko and Annika went to eat at a fast-food called Kumpir, which serves stuffed baked potatoes with recipes from all over the world, from Mexico to Russia.
The potatoes looked something like this and they tasted just as good:
I learned that Germans love potatoes, and while serving lunch we even talked some politics like why Germany isn’t allowed to have nuclear weapons or heavy artillery (due to the 2nd World War), and how Angela Merkel at first decided not to follow Gerhard Schroeder’s policy on closing up nuclear power plants, but after the Fukushima incident in Japan, turned at 180 degrees and decided that the future of Germany stands in renewable energies.
After work I decided to go shopping in the supermarkets between Altona and Koenigstrasse. At first I went to an all-natural bio products supermarket but didn’t buy anything, since it was too expensive. For example, it had cheese that cost over 30 EURO / kg. But it’s nice to know I will have where to spend my money when I will be rich 🙂 After that I came accross “dm” Supermarket and bought some pretty inexpensive eau de toilette, and finally went to Edeka. Edeka seems to be quite a nice supermarket. It has a wide variety of products and they were all very well organized. And I can’t say it was expensive, either. I liked it.
Saturday, 29th of August 2015
I had to wake up earlier than I wanted (around 12:00 pm) because I was scheduled to use the washing machine. The washing machines and the laundry dryer are located in the basement of one of the buildings here in the campus. In order to use them, you need to insert some special coins which you can buy from some designated students. The washing machine coin costs 2 EURO, and the dryer coin costs 1 EURO. I must say that especially the dryer was worth all its money. In just 2 hours, I had my clothes clean and dry, ready to put them in the closet.
On my way to the AIESEC office I was stopped by two Norwegian guys who thought I was also Norwegian, due to my Red Cross values t-shirt which was in Norwegian.
He wanted to talk to me about Jesus, and after I told him I am an atheist, we had a short debate. The debate would have taken longer if I hadn’t told him I was on a hurry. It’s funny how religious people are always trying to “save” you from burning in the eternal flames of hell. 🙂
At 17:00 o’clock there was an AIESEC Local Committee meeting where all internationals were invited. This time it was a special one, because the new Executive Board was taking over and the old one was leaving. It had everything: AIESEC dances, shouts, singing, building a cardboard ship, eating and drinking. I met some interns just like me, from countries like Latvia, Austria, Brazil etc.
The story of one person in particular made a strong impression on me. It was the story of Darius, from Afghanistan, who was brought to Germany by German troops, after suffering two gunned attacks from talibans. He wasn’t shot, just injured by the glass from his car’s windshield as bullets pierced it while he was driving. His family was forced to emigrate to Tajikistan, while he received a 3-year visa to live in Germany. Sometimes we forget how lucky we are to have been born in countries that aren’t ravaged by war.
After the LC meeting me and Zarko went to the office in GaussStrasse to meet some startup entrepreneurs which were on a bus tour throughout Europe. We had free pizza, free beers and captivating conversations about startups.
Sunday, 30th of August 2015
I woke up very very late today, in the afternoon. But I didn’t want to let this day go to waste, so I went to Stadtpark and made some photos.