As I come to mark my 3rd year anniversary in Berlin, I thought it was only right to look back on some of the memories from 2015; the year I moved to Berlin on a whim which no real plans. I can say it was the best decision I have made despite the fact it was hard at certain moments. I feel it’s important to get to know what your limits are and also to work out how to grow into the person you want to be.
Moving to Neukölln, for a bit
I moved to Neukölln for one month and then onto Kreuzberg in Mehringdamm. I had a lot of fun. I was learning to speak German at conversational level. The sun was shining at 30-37 degrees; I went to Badeschiff, looked for jobs in the morning, drank Turkish coffee, had the odd falafel, explored nearby areas. I have never felt as free as this. I had an interview at Google in London but that didn’t quite go the way I wanted despite getting the the final stages. Sometimes these things are for the best!
Having more beer than ideas
I went to Zug der Liebe (Love Parade), Christopher Street Day, Mauerpark, Viktoria Park, Hasenheide. It was a summer of outdoors and learning to speak German. And drinking beer. And going to the späti.
Getting salt, bread and a plant
Upon getting a year contract for a job and a flat, I moved into Kreuzberg and learned the tradition in Germany which is as follows: upon moving into a new place, its custom to bring salt, bread and a plant for luck in the new flat.
Looking very Russian
Long dark hair and getting mistaken for a Russian. A compliment, I must say.
This is where ideas of The Secret Linguist started flowing.
Exploring some abandoned areas thanks to Yann
Berlin has so many abandoned buildings which have already been marked as listed buildings and are just sat there rotting away, unfortunately. I was fortunate enough to get to see Blub, an abandoned swimming pool that lots of Berliners remember as a really nice indoor pool. There were tickets on the floor in D-Marks, saunas which looked in good condition (ish) and lots of graffiti. The outdoor pool was particularly colourful. I tried to visit a few abandoned places but it is definitely not without risk.
Flying to Amsterdam for 20 EUR
Because Berlin TXL and SXF are just great to fly to anywhere in the world.
Getting confused between languages
Sometimes when learning two languages at once you can either mix it up with your mother tongue or maybe a languages which is entirely unconnected. It’s good to keep lists in your Evernote, watch Tagesschau on ARD and listen to some German radio to keep it in your head. Travelling can make it easier as you have some time out, but similar languages such as Dutch can really confuse!
Because as much as we love the city; it’s important to get some time out. Berlin has a lot of nature in its surrounding areas; you can get your dose of green areas at any time! Think the lakes nearby, or driving out to a different Bundesland altogether. I went to Fleesensee in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern. Let’s just ignore their political views for now 🙂
After 1 year: fully appreciating the beauty of the city
Because Berlin is arm aber sexy. Because despite the hustle of the city, there can be moments when strangers help you, strangers are nice to you, and you find yourself carrying out random acts of kindness on a weekly basis. Because Berlin makes you want to be concerned about the environment, getting irate that Google are coming to build a campus, getting ready to protest at any moment where gentrification comes to invade. I am very appreciative of this new opportunity to integrate into Germany and Berlin. I have enjoyed giving up material things and exploring techno, creativity, languages and culture.
Thanks to Grant, Merrick, Yann, Sabine, Jasmin and many others for making my first year so special but also for their support and love. I hope to spend more years and create more beautiful memories for the next 3 years.