Due to my last post being laced with a frankly disgusting amount of nostalgia I’d forgive everyone for picturing me curled up in a ball crying into a tartan scarf. I’m obviously not! In fact, after a while here I now feel very settled in Berlin, or as settled as a person can be in this crazy and beautiful city.
After scouring sooo many nice and not so nice flats around the whole of Berlin I finally found a flatmate! At first I thought my new flatmate was a born and bred German… we were chatting away about the heightening rents in Berlin (a popular grievance of Berliners) and how we wanted to live in the area. She told me she worked for Zalando.de (the German ASOS) as a translator. One fateful day, however, I discovered she was in fact Irish and we spoke in English, from then on it was impossible to Switch back! We still watch a good amount of Germany’s Next Top Model together when we’re in the flat and drink a fair bit of Hugo Sekt (German cava which tastes of elderflower and mint).
My Flatmate, Aille, and I having typical German breakfast (laaarge) in our street:
I’ve been trying to write about Berlin. I’ve been trying to describe how it feels to be here and learning about a place that is so different to where I am from. It’s so difficult to put into words how I actually feel about it, but I’ll try if anyone feels like skimming the next paragraph!
(Try and hear this in a really unpretentious voice) I really feel like in the past month of living here I have changed. Sometimes in Edinburgh I felt really numb to everything because nothing ever changed for me. It was so comfortable compared to here but I’m starting to enjoy feeling a bit on edge if that makes sense. Maybe it doesn’t.
When in Edinburgh, I define myself as a local. Here, I guess that I’m trying as hard as possible not to define myself as a foreigner – or rather make that what defines me here. I find it kind of depressing when I meet people and they see me in the way that we see people who are obviously, in the purest sense of the word, foreign – like someone who doesn’t understand anything, culture or language wise. I really just want as far as possible to like fit in but not erase my background altogether which I think is a difficult thing to do.
The Erasmus meetings are lovely. They feel great. You know where you are at an Erasmus party. You know that whoever you meet they will speak English, they will also be new in Berlin and they will be feeling the same about everything. Yes, I think they are a great thing… but there’s an exclusivity. It’s a little safe place where everyone is clinging to their own culture and not embracing the new. The erasmus meetings always involve an uncanny selection of euro-pop tunes and feel very very different to any other night out I have experienced so far in Berlin.
By no means would I want to slander the group, I know how much it helps. And I know that my place might always be within these groups. It is certainly where I feel at ease. Apart from anything else the fact that the language of the group is English makes it necessary for me to look elsewhere. I didn’t come to Berlin to speak in English, and I also didn’t come to Berlin to feel at home or to talk about my country all the time. I wanted to learn both the language and the culture of People who lived here.
The Clubs of Berlin. Being Alone.
I’m fully aware that my younger cousins and distant relatives are also reading this blog so I’ll not delve into too much detail where the Berlin night life is concerned. Needless to say though, it is world renowned for being home to the most liberal, free-thinking and bohemian crowd. I would say the night life definitely reflects that.
My friends and I had heard about the exclusivity of the club scene and the fact that a lot of the club nights move areas to keep everyone guessing and ensure the best clientèle (less tourists, more locals). For that reason the door policy can be extremely random. The bouncers often tell people bluntly and in no uncertain terms: “You don’t belong in this club” or “Not tonight, you haven’t the right look”.
So when my friends from Edinburgh and I went to one of the world’s most famous techno clubs, all dressed in black, as the dress code recommends, I was really keen to get in to what I’d heard was the most exclusive nightclub in the world with the scariest bouncers. We had been turned away, but I was determined to get in, and I went up to the bouncer, who had one of the most impressive face tattoos and a sick leather jacket. We were advised to go in alone, big groups get turned away instantly. I was a little drunk. I walked straight up to the door and smiled at this really intimidating guy with a hat on, my hair in a pigtail and no make up. He smiled back, and I was in.
I went in by myself. I met a really great group of people, who accepted the fact that I have a weak but clawing grasp on the German language. I do a lot more listening here than I do speaking, like a little mute child… I often just smile and try to get by using as few sentences as possible… anyone who has ever heard me try and form German sentences will know why.
They asked me to a house party, where I was the only person in the room who wasn’t from Stuttgart, Germany. By the end of the night I can’t remember which conversations were in English and which were in German, which is a good sign!
It’s funny how the strange insistence of the clubs here on individuality actually forced me to be independent. I’ve never felt more out of my comfort zone, unsure, and off balance, but I’ve also never felt more intrigued and on my toes. I fail a lot of the time here, but when I succeed the rewards are ridiculously good. 🙂