one month ago, i packed up my entire life (and by that i mean i packed up 9 pairs of shoes, 7 pieces of outerwear, basically no clothing, and nothing else of use to me other than both my laptops, great job emma), hopped on a plane, and relocated to berlin, germany. it was scary. nothing anyone told me, and certainly nothing i told myself, prepared me in any way for the past four weeks. i’ve always published on littlecity in the name of full disclosure, so for better or for worse, here are some things i’ve learned about berlin.
before you leave, everyone will try to say nice things about your probably stupid decision to move across the world to a country where you don’t speak the language, and where you do not have a job that pays you. “you’ll be fine,” they will say, “you can get by without german! you’ll find a job in no time! the miniscule amount of money you saved will totally last for at least 3 months.” these people, though they mean well, are liars. save more money. learn the language. don’t accept unpaid internships.
on the other hand, here are some things that people told me that are true: “it will be scary,” “you’re going to have the time of your life,” “you’re so lucky,” and most importantly, “you’re going to fucking love berlin.” all truths, and all things that i remind myself when it gets particularly hard.
because it gets fucking hard. i have shed tears. yes, furious hot tears such as when i spent 20 minutes trying to figure out how to deposit money into my german bank account and ended up storming out of the bank, money still in hand. tears, such as when i got lost for a half hour trying to find the S1 platform amidst the construction in mitte. tears, such as when i received emails gently letting me know that i didn’t get jobs i really wanted. yes, it gets fucking hard.
but you surprise yourself. more than anything this past month, i have surprised myself in strength (previous point in this post notwithstanding), in perseverance, in courage. even when shit gets hard, and all you want to do is curl into the fetal position and wait for this entire decision to blow over, you toughen up — you message german friends to help you with your banking, you buck up and ask as many locals as you have to until you find your way, and you pull yourself together and keep moving forward because, let’s face it, that’s the only option you have. and that’s a really soul shaking thing.
germans are rude. they are aggressive and they don’t give a shit if you throw elbows at them to get out of your dancing space at club der visionaere. they will knock you over and spill your whiskey, and they’ll make you like it.
the music here really is as good as they say. in my four weekends here, i’ve hit CDV, berghain/panoramabar, tresor, renate, anita berber, and wandelbar, to name a few and this city has been an endless source of inspiration and unrelenting amazing music. there is so much to discover that you will probably bleed from your ears trying to do and see and hear it all. you’ll dance to techno for 19 hours and then go home and dream about techno and then wake up and do it all over again.
you have to learn to say “no.” (read: go home when you have no money left). luckily, despite popular opinion, i’m actually quite good at knowing when to say no. and it’s a good thing too because as some random guy said to me from the top bunk of a broken bunk bed at renate, “if you’re not careful, this city will eat you up and never spit you back out.” he looked like he knew what he was talking about.
germans are basically the equivalent to the fat person inside of you that you never let eat. this country is obsessed with pastries. there is croissanteries (or the german equivalent to a croissanterie) on every corner and in every u-bahn station. they have croissants drizzled with chocolate and filled with nutella. there is pretzels for sale everywhere you look. they put mayo on fries, on sandwiches, on cut-up tomatoes, inside pretzels, and on slices of cucumber with salt. it is obscene but it is also fantastic because now i can eat forever and ever with no shame. goodbye social life.
it’s grey. this is another one of those things that people warned me about, “it’s never sunny there lol,” they said. they were right, it’s not. it rains and it is cold and it is grey, but it’s berlin, so you get over it.
did i mention the music?
one month down. 11 more to go.