Does that sound familiar to you? For those who read my article which concerns my internship at DIAS in 2016, it probably does. This time though, it is a four-months internship and, in a nutshell, this means that I am going to stay and get myself organized in another city for four months on my own. I actually planned to do an international internship, which didn’t work out for a couple of reasons, but I can now assure you that arranging myself in a different city in Germany itself is already a bit of a challenge…
I didn’t focus on any city in particular, but as I wanted to go abroad in first place, I asked around at different companies and organizations abroad. I quickly realized that this is not going to get me where I wanted because they either told me that they had no capacities available for an intern or they straight away forwarded me to one of their German offices. Even if it worked out, it would have definitely been way more challenging to arrange my stay and any kind of necessary support. Therefore, I started calling up companies in Germany located at different places, some of which straight away declined my request due to low capacities during my requested time period.
In the end, DIAS once again were the ones who eventually called me up and accepted me for an internship for four months.
Now I got an internship in Hamburg, so yay! Well, almost…
Given that it is quite a distance to travel from Stade’s country-side to Hamburg and I can tell from my own experiences that there is a lot of construction work taking place along the railway route which causes delays and canceled trains, I agreed with my parents that it is better to find a place to stay in Hamburg itself for my convenience.
So far so good, but Hamburg is a very crowded place and room is limited, so it is essential to check for available places around the clock.
First, I created an account at www.wg-gesucht.de, which is a platform where people can offer a room in a shared house, their whole flat or their house to other people.
There are two options to find a place to stay: either create a request or look for available offers, which I did both.
The next morning, just a few hours after I submitted my request, I already got some replies. Someone offered me a room in a flat for a very cheap price per month. After some research, however, we found out that the flat’s pictures were equal to the pictures of a flat in Munich which turned out to be a scam, according to a post in a Facebook group for Erasmum students. Even the name and other personal information described in the post were identical with the information sent to me. There are a couple of those scams around and they are usually up for a prepayment possibly via payment services such as Western Union (according to WG-Gesucht) and they give you a couple of reasons why you cannot meet them and check out the room in beforehand but, rest assured, they’ll send you a contract and the keys after the payment.
On Couchsurfing, I always have a chat with the people I am staying with in beforehand because I feel way more comfortable that way. In this case, as the time period I stay in Hamburg is much longer and a monthly payment is involved, I consider it to be one of the main conditions to check out the place, its surroundings and meet the people I am supposed to stay with in beforehand before I am thinking of any further steps.
I got one or two more replies on my request and contacted a couple of people concerning their room offers, but they either did not reply at all, the room was already rented, the time period of my stay wasn’t suitable or they were concerned about my visual handicap. As frustrating as it is being declined due to my disability, I really appreciate their straightforwardness. Seriously, they could have come up with some sort of bad excuse which can be even more embarrassing on both sides, because depending on the type of excuse, you can clearly hear that there actually is something completely different on their mind. Therefore, there is nothing to blame them for on my side really. It would for sure be discriminatory if they don’t want to see me at all due to my blindness but, in fact, they are totally fine with meeting up during the time of my internship for a cup of tea and a random talk. After all, it is always great to know some of the locals in beforehand who are more familiar with the city than I am. 😉
Speaking of locals, I also asked some friends of mine living in or near Hamburg concerning possible options where I could stay and, to my astonishment, it eventually did the trick!
On December 27th, 2018, I went to Hamburg to join an English meet-up advertised on Couchsurfing. There, I met Alexander, an awesome guy from Boston who moved to Germany about 30 years ago with whom I stayed in touch after the meeting and, of course, I also asked him for advise.
On March 2nd, my mother and I went to Hamburg to meet Alex who introduced us to one of his friends who rents one of her rooms in her flat in Hamburg Altona and after a little walkaround and a pleasant talk about this and that, she granted my stay!
In the end, I can only say that I am truly astonished how quickly I got my internship arranged and a place to stay nearby later on. Especially as far as a suitable place to stay is concerned, I thought it would take way longer and it probably even would if I didn’t attend the English meeting on this particular December 27th. You know, our networks keep expanding and sometimes, good people just show up at the right time.
I keep you posted as anything new concerning my internship develops. The next thing which is currently going to be arranged is cane lessons in Hamburg…