My name is Christian de Haan, 21 years old, and I am from the beautiful city of Hamburg in Germany.
Hamburg is the second largest town of the country, amounting to 1.8 million inhabitants.
One reason for its popularity is that Hamburg is the economic center of North Germany, having the country´s highest GDP ($ 64100 per capita) and a relatively low unemployment rate (88% of the working-age population have jobs). Especially the harbor contributes to this success as it ranks second in Europe after Rotterdam and ninth in the world. But it also profits from the banking sector and media businesses.
Besides Hamburg is famous for its great cultural life with 40 theaters, 60 museums and 100 music venues and clubs. Especially since the 1960s, when many employees from abroad were hired in order to overcome the post-world war crisis (the so called “Gastarbeiter”), the multiethnic influences had a great impact on the town, going along with many gentrifications in many parts. In this way alternative areas and those with a more modern imprint are not isolated from each other but can be experienced throughout the whole town so that a great variety is offered to everyone.
Furthermore, Hamburg was “Europe´s environmental capital 2011”: Parks and lakes in all parts of the town serve as a great contrast to the otherwise often hectic atmosphere in big towns, thus distinguishing Hamburg from comparable German towns like Berlin, Munich or Frankfurt for example. This is supported by a focus on environmental issues by politics.
But how did I get to Salem?
As in most other European countries, there is no equivalent to undergraduate courses in Germany, so that I started attending law school directly after graduating from high school. After two years of its program our university requires us to spend one semester abroad which I highly appreciate: Not only is it useful to have deeper knowledge of the differences between national jurisdictions as also work in law firms becomes more and more global, but it also and especially improves your personal skills – you have the opportunity to meet new people, get friends with them, learn about their different culture.
Salem seemed and seems the perfect place for me to do that: Students dominate a large part of the town and so it sometimes seems like a big community; students from my home town often complain that they feel anonymous because of the big universities. What can be boring, however, are the weekends: There is no problem on Thursdays, for example, with TNOs (Thursday Night Out), the Ram or similar possibilities. And there are also fraternity/sorority or other private parties going on, there are two good clubs and a couple of bars being not too bad. But still – I need to be honest: On the weekends you should either study or go to another place (like Portland, Seattle, Crater lake etc..) to really use your time effectively. Salem just cannot compare when it comes to cultural or party offers. I did that, and I am very content with my time here so far. All the people are very friendly, open-minded and so you get into contact very easily.
I am enjoying my time here, it was a good choice!