After two and a half months of traveling throughout Spain, The Netherlands, Belgium and visiting places like Budapest, Prague, Ljubljana, Munich and Limnos. I arrived in Berlin at the beginning of September and plunged immediately into the amazing and overwhelming experiences this city has to offer.
My September was filled with excursions, travel, exploring nightlife and most importantly daily German classes. Through the intensive German course run at ZEMS, I met many students who are struggling just like me to get by as a not-so-perfect German speaker. As we are all exchange students, I was able to meet people from all over the world (France, Switzerland, Mexico, Ecuador, Italy, China, Taiwan, Norway, Sweden, Spain, Great Britain, Belgium, Poland, The Netherlands, Turkey, USA, and of course Germany)! September was an exciting month for all since we only had the German course and no degree-related courses.
For me my daily routine consisted of waking up early to try achieve some touristic goal, such as getting to one of the multitude of amazing galleries, monuments or just somewhere that had good coffee. Then catching the scenic (incredibly efficient) U-bahn on the above ground lines through the city to study german for 4 hours. Which would then follow with me hitting up one of the many awesome record stores in the early evening spending money I didn’t have on amazing music, then relaxing by the canal with a cheap beer and a few new mates. Then maybe on a ‘cultural‘ excursion to one of the many banging clubs in this city. There’s something on every night in this city, spend a month here and you’ll get to see 3-4 of your favourite DJs, stay 6 months and…. I’ll let you know Maté
rinse and repeat…
One particularly moving and interesting place was the Berlin Wall Memorial. Where I was sent with other members of my German course to Bernauer Straße. The memorial contains the last piece of Berlin Wall with the preserved grounds behind it and is thus able to convey an impression of how the border fortifications developed until the end of the 1980s. Along a 1.4 Kilometre strip tourists and locals alike can engage with the literal separation and division of Berlin.
The city of Berlin itself is like one giant open Museum, with so many sites of importance in relation to Modern world history, but also sites of contemporary cultural significance such as the Vibrant club scene, that puts Australia’s idea of nightlife to shame. Theres a certain freedom in this city that you are unlikely to encounter anywhere else and with this freedom comes both a sense of calm unquestionable acceptance while also being an incredibly jarring exciting ride at times. With all these wonderful things, Berlin undoubtedly attracts a lot of attention, from tourists to expats alike. Which in itself is both terrific and frustrating, like, when you’ve been here for almost 2 months and realise you’ve maybe met only a handful of “Original Berliners”. Or the stress that ensues through the gruelling and punishing process of trying to find a place to stay. Good rooms in Berlin, wait, just rooms in Berlin are in high demand, But with the aid of certain sites like WG-gesucht. and many facebook groups created for advertising open rooms, it does take some time but if you’re diligent in your efforts you will be greatly rewarded.
Generally living costs like rent and groceries are much more affordable in Berlin than back home, but as always rent is on the rise. Something a lot of the locals here, or anyone who has been here longer than a year is not too happy about. But winter is coming… which sees a few less tourists city giving the general frenzy a very literal and figurative cool down.
In almost 4 month since leaving home to start this awesome journey with another 6 months ahead I can’t recommend the Exchange experience enough, the opportunities to learn and grow are seemingly endless in such a rich and exciting environment. Berlin truly is a city for everyone and I think that’s why it’s still so amazing even for people who have lived here their whole lives, because as much as you come here with ideas, excitement and bias past onto you by others what is truly rewarding is finding your own personal Berlin experience. In this city of endless choice and opportunity I know it’s out there.
Joel Spring 11759255