Loving Hamburg after a long time abroad

Meike Neitz
From Bremen
3 years in Hamburg

You’re quite the nomad! Where in the world have you been?

It really all started when I was only 15 years old and did a 3 month exchange program staying with a family on Vancouver Island, Canada. I had the best time of my life! There is this wonderful word ‘Fernweh’ in German – it translates into ‘longing to go faraway’. I’m pretty sure that is when I got infected and never really got cured from it. After I graduated from high school, I went on a world trip that started in Patagonia, Chile. I first helped out in a hotel, then got a job on a sailing boat and sailed three months up the Chilean Coast to Galapagos Islands. From there I went to Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Florida, the Bahamas (where I stayed for two months, again working on a yacht) and finally to New York, where my trip ended.

I then decided to study International Relations (no big surprise here!) in Dresden, but took any opportunity that I could to sneak out: I spent two month in Ivory Coast for example and studied for two terms at Boston College. For my Master Degree I went to London and had a wonderful year with the Brits. Afterwards, since I had missed New York so much, I moved over there for two internships.

I get recruited by a British research firm called Oxford Business Group, who specialize in Emerging Markets. I started as a Project Manager, then soon became Country Director and worked in Thailand, then Algeria. I was supposed to set up the Tunisian office, but unfortunately arrived in Tunis three days before the Revolution started. So it took a week until I could be evacuated: change of plans. My company decided to send me to Indonesia instead. I spent half a year in Jakarta, while traveling a lot around Indo on weekends. Best time ever! I then took over the office in Turkey. I did one project there, was sent to Bangkok again for half a year and finally came back to Istanbul.

Then I packed my bags and came to Hamburg. At some point I started counting countries I have visited. It’s 79 now.

Was it weird to return back to your own country?

Coming back to Germany was not easy for me and for a long time I asked myself if it had been the right decision. The first one and a half years I lived in 7 different apartments! Because I didn’t want to have my own yet I subleased from people that were abroad… It was also a good way to get to know different parts of the city.

I did really enjoy Hamburg,  but at the same time I missed the chaos of the emerging markets and the crazy weekend trips we had done. Yet I realized just how many places there were also in Europe that I had not been to, so did a lot of Eurotripping to Helsinki, Warsaw, Edinburgh, Vilnius, Riga, Tallin, went to Iceland, Sicily etc. I just changed the travel rhythm: Instead of having no base and always being abroad, I did smaller trips and also starting to notice just how nice it is to come back to my own place.

I met some wonderful people here and not always having to say goodbye is just great.  Also when I was living the nomad life I was never in a proper relationship.  By meeting my boyfriend a lot changed – we are now traveling together, I am writing this in Shanghai! I published a whole article about the topic on Edition F and interestingly got a lot of feedback from people who felt the same: That if you are into traveling, coming back and getting used to Germany is the hardest part…But give it some time, do a lot of little trips in between and it will work!

What’s something in your life right now that you’re super proud of?

I started my own communications consultancy called Die Zukunftsmanufaktur and it’s going super well! I’m helping companies in PR, content strategy, do copywriting and social media. It’s very fulfilling and a lot of fun.

Want to know more about Meike and her consultancy business? Check out her work at diezukunftsmanufaktur.de

Photo credit: Hanno Biesold



Best place to have drinks with a view in Hamburg?

Personally I love to be by the sea, so in summer, Strandpauli is awesome, also just hanging out at Park Fiction, which has a nice vibe. Then, since I live in Ottensen, Strandperle is perfect for beach feeling, the view of port life and also for awesome coffee, cake and pretzels. When the sun is shining, that is Hamburg at its best! 🙂

>> Check out many other city tips from Hamburg locals here

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