Berlin Exploration: Design-Related Mitte

by Heidi Obermeyer

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Well, it’s the weekend (which means I am finally free to wear what I want! Green pants! Bright scarves! Red lipstick!) and I haven’t really shared much of the city so far in pictures or words. Work keeps me extraordinarily busy, which is simultaneously exhausting/thrilling/shocking to my system after the freedom that comes with being a student. I’ve had quite a few discussions with my friends who are already working about what the whole nine-to-five thing is like, and now that I am in it up to my eyeballs I certainly have a lot more respect for how valuable free time is.

I haven’t been taking pictures with my real camera since I got here- it’s just been so insanely, breathtakingly cold most days and I can’t get motivated. Even during the week I bundle up as much as I can, but it becomes quite the task to get to work warm AND looking decent. I’ve started knitting a new cowl to combat the chill:

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I love the pattern, which I found here. It’s been super easy so far (although this is the first time I’ve actually knitted something in the round) and I think it will be nice to have something substantive for staying warm on my winter walks. Cozy cozy!

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One thing I’ve been surprised by is how sedentary my days are. Not that I was getting much exercise over winter break before I got here, but it is shocking how exhausting it is to sit around on the computer all day (I write as I sit around at home on the weekend on my computer). By the time I get home it’s actually sort of late (and dark!) so I’m at a bit of a loss as to when I can squeeze in more exercise. Any thoughts?

Today I went on a mission to find a few different hipster-y stores I’ve been wanting to go to. Freitag bags are very popular around Germany, and I thought that they had their own store in Berlin. I didn’t find it (I’m still suffering from map-withdrawal) but I did find a store in the area that was selling the bags, just along with other stuff. I suppose that can count as a successful hunt. The store that was carrying them had a ton of cool stuff though! I love how design-oriented this city is.

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They had lots of carafes. I really want a carafe and matching glasses. I have a long wish list of things-people-in-grad-school-who-are-moving-can’t-buy. There’s a lot of kitchen appliances on it.

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Another thing on that wish list- Pantone-themed things. I don’t think I even understand what Pantone is seriously used for, but I am all over it. In Portlandia they can put a bird on it, but in my world, we’re going to slap some Pantone on it.

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I don’t feel nearly hip enough for this town right now. I left a lot of my fashion-forward clothes at home since I’m required to act like I’m a functioning adult/grad student most of the time. You know, one who has it together and wears things that say “I’m all business. Professionalism! Super competent person, right here!” and stuff like that.

Look at this cool tray! Put a tree on it.

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Although I admired for quite some time in a lot of stores and walked the distance between at least 3 U-bahn stations, I didn’t buy anything. I looked up exchange rates earlier this week and those numbers are still fresh in my mind; they are not pretty. No! Euros! Why do you have to ruin everything? Greece totally could have stuck with the likeable and vivacious Mediterranean thing if it weren’t for you!

While walking some unfamiliar streets today, I tried to keep an eye out for golden Stolpersteine (“stumbling stones”) that have been placed in front of buildings where people who were killed or persecuted by the Nazis once lived. I never noticed any in Munich, but according to Wikipedia they are all over a variety of European cities. I think they are a really tasteful way to remember people.

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It is supposed to warm up later this week, which I am really looking forward to! The sun came out, for the first time since I arrived really, yesterday and it felt nice to be out in the brightness today despite the bitter cold. I saw lots of strollers and kiddos out there, and if the 3-year-olds can walk around without whining, then I suppose I ought to too. Some parents just drag their kids around on sleds post-snowfall, which is pretty amusing in such an urban environment!

Anyway, I’m not sure what I’ll do tomorrow. It’s a Verkaufssonntag, which means that all the stores that are usually closed will be open. Normally this only happens around holidays, but this time I heard it was for green week or something. Hmmm…. interesting reasoning, Berlin. I hope life is nice wherever you are, and that the cold snap hasn’t frozen too many of your extremities.

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