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Finding accommodation here is NOT EASY AND it is different to finding one in the UK. There isn’t a “Unite” or “Canalside” type of accommodation here. 90% of the time students/interns/trainees live in a shared flat (WG).  When I first got to Hamburg I didn’t have a permanent place I was staying somewhere temporarily. Overall I have moved 4 times – I just moved again two/three weeks ago.

Now I had no idea where to start looking when I got offered the internship. I didn’t even know what to type into Google. I was the definition of lost. I will split up my experience into 3 sections:

  1. FRAUDS

frauds

Yes guys, it’s not only Nigerians who are fraudsters. But omg the amount of fraudulent activities I experienced (especially on the Erasmus website). It’s not Erasmus as an organization, but more of the “frauds” who sign up and advertise fake flats. Don’t get me wrong, I also experienced fake adverts on the other flat rental websites but the ERASMUS website was the worst. The ERASMUS website didn’t do quality checks for fake accounts, whereas the other websites did and they would send you an email to warn you.

These frauds really take advantage of the fact that you’re a foreigner and have no clue about the city you’re about to move into. We’re like fresh meat to them.

Some fraudsters will send you “pictures” of “them” and “their fake family members”.  Honestly these pictures looked so legit I never imagined for them to be fake. I was sent pictures of the different rooms in the flat etc and they were all fake like seriously where were they getting all of these pictures from. After all the picture sending they’ll then ask you where your work location is and then BOOM! miraculously the next email from them will be a random house address near your workplace and because you don’t know any better you’ll just be so happy of how lucky you are that it is walking distance from your workplace and how decent the price is. Then I said I’d like to come and visit and then all of sudden they were on “business trips” and never returned. I lost count of the amount of times this happened to me and from then I knew it was fake.

DISCRIMINATORS

stand out

When I was applying for rooms I do believe I was discriminated on many occasions, but there was one that just stood out to me. I applied for a room with a family who had advertised their house on this website. The mother who put up the advert, was so helpful and was telling me all about her family and the room via e-mails and sending me loads of pictures of her family. After e-mailing her I felt like this would be a welcoming family to stay with and she was ready to reserve the room for me. Then she dropped the bomb killer question

“Could you send me a picture of yourself please?”

oo

When I saw this email I just knew that this was the END and bye bye to my room. I still had a bit of faith in her because she just seemed so nice through email. Anyways I searched and scrambled through my photo album and picked my best picture and sent it to her.

10 marks to the person who guesses the end of the story!

That was the last I heard from her.

At this point my mum was getting really worried that I had nowhere to stay. She said I should stop sending them pictures and just be nicer than usual. Of course I totally understood my mum’s concerns and reasons but why should I hide the fact that I am black? So I can get a room? Nah mate. I’d rather not. If you don’t want me in your place you don’t want me. It’s not by force.

So after that situation, whatever advert I put up, I made sure I put a picture of myself so there weren’t any “surprises” haha!

  1. FLEXIBILITYYYYYY/INTERVIEWERS

The reason I extended the “Y’s” is because I am trying to emphasize on how flexible these room sellers/landlord wanted me to be! I’ve never heard of someone finding a room from the UK it just never works most of the time. You have to physically be in Hamburg/Germany for you to get a room. When I was searching from London some people will advertise a room and will need it filled immediately. I’d ask when I could come and view the room and they be like:

“Tomorrow”

And I’d be like:

whet

“Emm whet? Thanks for the notice”

So you could see the perfect room and they could ask you to come tomorrow. And if you’re balling like that then hell yeah by all means book a flight for tomorrow but that wasn’t the case with me. And the advertiser would not wait so it’s first come first serve.

Also sometimes going to a viewing/ or having the money there and then it still doesn’t mean that the room is yours. I went to Hamburg for a day to view flats and I had no luck with all the 5 flats I viewed. Some advertisers were so picky! They will interview you and see whether they like you. This is understandable to an extent but come on why you interviewing me for a room. Like they’ll have all of these preferences like:

  • We must cook together once a week;
  • Have a walk in the evening on Tuesdays;
  • Braid each other’s hairs on Friday

urghj

What next? Have each other’s babies? It was unrealistic and unnecessary.

All in all that was a snapshot of my experience, and as you can see finding a room in Hamburg was such a pain but after 4 stressful moves I finally have the perfect place!!

If you are looking to study abroad next year or work abroad next year in Hamburg or Germany don’t be scared I don’t bite! Drop me a message, tweet, comment whatever I’d be more than happy to let you know where to look!

Disclaimer: This is just my experience – everyone will encounter different hurdles!

Post Author: Sarah T. AK

Sarah Temi Akinde: 20 years young. Business and Politics Undergraduate. Interning for Euler Hermes in Hamburg, as a Group HR Controller.​