You know when something just doesn’t feel right, when you have a bad feeling and it just won’t go away? Well that is how I’ve been feeling about Berlin since moving here a couple of weeks ago. I have tried very hard to fall in love with the city or at least fall in like with it, but I’ve realized pretty quickly that I’m not happy. It’s taken a bit of courage to tell everyone that it’s not working and make a new life plan and it’s not a decision that has come easily to me.
I decided late last year that my next home away from home would be in Europe. I spent months researching a place to live and eventually came to the conclusion of Berlin, in part because of the rave reviews I was getting from other people and they’re not wrong – on paper it is a great place to live.
Cheap – at least compared to other cities like NYC, London and Paris. I currently pay less than half what I did in NYC for a bigger room in one of the nicest areas of Berlin.
People – Germans are not as serious as the stereotypes suggest. All of the Germans I have been staying with, met with for coffee or have just come across in the street have been super friendly and open people.
Language & Culture – One of the great things about living in Berlin as an English speaker is the opportunity to learn German. I’ve had a lot of fun interacting in (very bad) German each day and feeling a sense of excitement when I actually walk out with what I wanted!
Biking – The city is fairly well set up for biking. Maybe not like Copenhagen is, but it’s still an ideal way to get around. There are large cycle lines, cycle carriages on trains and great parks for weekend bike rides. I recently hired a bike and spent a day cycling through Tiergarten.
Public Transport – The city is very well served by the U-bahn, S-bahn, trams and buses. If the train isn’t close, a tram probably will be. The other great thing about these forms of transport is that 9 times out of ten I get a seat! None of that NYC subway unintentionally grinding on five people on your way to work carry on.
But even with all of these things going for it, I just can’t help the sad feeling I have when I am here. There is something that doesn’t feel right. It’s not the language barrier, nor the distance from home or the thought of a looming winter – it’s a feeling and it’s hard to explain a feeling. My heart is telling me to go elsewhere and I can’t help but listen to it.
Fortunately I have a ridiculously supportive family who have been great to talk to. I was hmming and haaaing about whether I should move somewhere else; Copenhagen and London were both high on my list. It was my brother who suggested I spend a couple of days in London to see if I actually might like it, it had been 14 years since I was last there after all. What an obvious idea, but I needed someone else to actually say it. I booked flights that night for the following morning – one of the craziest things I’ve ever done!
I was so excited I couldn’t sleep. I smiled the whole way over in the plane and when the pilot dipped the wing to turn for the airfield and I caught a glimpse of the city, I fell in love instantly. It was like when I moved to NYC all over again except this time it felt like I was coming home. The excitement, the buzz, chaos but beauty all at the same time.
A couple of days exploring London settled it for me – I had to move here – sooner rather than later. Very soon I will be saying auf wiedersehen to Berlin and ‘allo ‘allo to London!
Life is short. Too short to do things that don’t feel right. I’m following my head and my heart on this one.
Safe Travels (wherever those travels might take you),