Welcome to Deutschland

Posted on September 27th, 2011 by

My brother and me (Samaraweera bros always working the camera)

Hello Gusties (former Gusties, current Gusties, kids who might possible be Gusties) and all you other fine folks who have stumbled onto my blog. In case you’re unaware, my name is Hasanga Samaraweera, but since I can remember, people have called me Hassie. I graduated from Gustavus only four short months ago and am now starting a new adventure in Berlin. Yup, that’s right. Germany baby. I’ll be here for a touch over a year while I do my Masters in Public Health at Charité University.

Now you’re probably wondering, how did a kid who grew up in North Dakota and went to school in sleepy old St. Peter happen to end up in Europe? Well, a stroke of luck and a bit of misfortune. My plan for pretty much as long as you can have a career goal (I mean once you get past wanting to be a pro soccer player or a taste tester for Cold Stone Creamery [lactose intolerance brought that dream to a screeching halt (by the way, you’re going to notice quite quickly that I love parentheticals)]) has been to become a doctor. Unfortunately, my attempt at gaining admission into medical school was stymied by… well I’m not really sure, but apparently they had their reasons. Luckily, I had never actually intended to go to medical school the following year (maybe that’s what they realized…). I was hoping to be able to gain admission and then defer for a year, which would allow me to have one last exciting adventure before selling my soul to anatomy and physiology books, late nights in the library (and these stay open all night unlike Folke Bernadette…), and cadavers (they’re always looking for those souls). The only problem was that I didn’t know what form this adventure would take. I knew that as much fun as simply running around Europe for a year would be, it would not be fulfilling enough for me. I had to do something with some legitimacy. So I (and by “I,” I mean Alisa Rosenthal [Gustavus political science prof, the head of the Gustavus Fellowships Office, and an all-around incredible woman]) scoured the internet and found numerous different programs worth an application. With Alisa’s help, I crafted various essay and jumped through the sometimes ridiculous hoops (like sending in a notarized copy of my high school diploma in blue ink; obviously, it’s a fake when it’s in black ink), and in the end, was awarded a scholarship from the DAAD. The Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst (try to say that three times fast; or just at all…). This meant that the German government was going to give me a monthly stipend, among other random benefits, to study Public Health in Germany. Needless to say, this became my plan post-graduation.

German Parliment aka Proof I'm Actually Here

Now the next thing you’re probably wondering. What the hell is up with the title of this fine blog? No, I’m not a narcissist (well at least not too much so). I just know how to lure people in with a title (at Gustavus I once entitled a paper about constructing one’s own society: Luvtopya- A City of Love Shacks Baby). In actuality, the title is just a bit of wordplay. Berlin’s slogan (kind of like NYC’s I Heart New York) is arm aber sexy. This directly translates into poor but sexy. It’s meant to evoke the feeling that Berlin is a place for everyone, even the poor man, without losing one iota of its significant amount of sex appeal. It is the place of aspiring artists. A town filled to the brim with culture. It’s a city that’s poor but sexy.

Public health even fits under the mantra of poor but sexy. Poor in the sense that money, or lack thereof, is a constant influence on health care, and sexy in that you’ve got to be healthy to be sexy (you try being sexy with a catheter). I’m hoping as this year goes on, I’ll better understand the struggle between these two sides of health care while observing the European approach to the subject (maybe I’ll even become a Socialist).

Now, for a little bit of honesty. My reason for undertaking this endeavor is simply my love of storytelling. Hopefully this introduction has given some credence to Gustavus’ decision to give me a blog like this, and I want to thank those in high places who have given me a venue from which to tell my tale in this foreign land. I’ll do my best to make it interesting and entertaining and show the ways my life up to now (and good ol’ GAC) has prepared me for this adventure. And I do hope you’ll come along for the ride.

Hugs and hand pounds,




  1. Brit Barkholtz says:

    HASSIE. You’re fantastic. We miss you. Beat ’em, bust ’em! 🙂 Thanks for keeping us updated!

  2. Ryan Kaufman says:

    Mals, sounds like you’re having quite an adventure! While you’re there, could you keep your eyes out for any of my distant relatives or a guy I went to High School with? His name was Michael Roch, but we called him German Mike…you may be able to walk around yelling that and find him. Take care bud and enjoy yourself! Kaufman

  3. The Meatballs says:

    As much as we (our family, I can’t speak for the masses) miss you here, Hassie, I’m enjoying your blog already. I know there will always be a story when you are involved…

  4. Ravindra Weerasooriya says:

    Good luck

  5. Mane Mama says:

    Hi Hassie. Great writing and frankness is well displayed. If Berlin is sexy, what is Sri Lanka where you had a few elderly lady fans at Kandy Hospital?

  6. Ravinda Samaraweera says:

    Wow, total overuse of parentheticals. What happened to the brother I once had who pooped his pants and picked his nose? Haha. Good stuff, I look forward to reading your blog. Great comments from Kaufman and Mane mama.

    • Nuwan Mama says:

      I haven’t seen any comments from Polpitiya mama; only saw one from Mane mama. Nice work Hassie. I agree too many parentheticals, you get lost inside the praentheticals.

  7. Brian Krahulec says:

    I second that your use of parentheticals maybe be on the extreme side (and when I say extreme, I mean that you might at well put parentheses around the entire blog and call it a day). But great title, the sexiness of an individual should be down graded because of the amount of money! Say it loud and strong my friend….Wait you actually mean it to be a connection to Berlin hahahaha. But still poverty should not take away ones sexiness.

    Anyways great blog!