Berlin wakes up and stretches her legs.

by Heidi Obermeyer

A few musings as of late:
Residency! I finally got my visa from a dashingly handsome German man, with no problems at all! What a relief, minus how early I had to be at the visa office- I got up at 4:45 a.m. and arrived at 6:15 a.m. for an appointment at 7 a.m., just to be on the safe side. All in all I was in and out in less than 20 minutes- hooray! I am very impressed, but let this be a lesson to you, future international students of Berlin- make an appointment at least 6 months in advance for minmum hassel and maximum efficiency. Also exciting about my residency permit is that it takes up 2 whole pages in my passport- I stayed long enough in Munich that they issued me a separate card, which was also nice, but it’s fun to have such massive proof of my time in Deutschland in sticker form this time around.
Since the weather has been amazing the last few weeks (sunny and in the 60’s and 70’s) I’ve finally been biking around town more! There’s just nothing like a nice cruise around the neighborhood on a bicycle to lift your spirits when you’re grumpy, and it feels good to get some exercise as well. Even though lots of people bike in Berlin, there’s still lots of main streets where bikes ride with traffic and no bike lanes, and after witnessing two near-misses between bikes and cars while walking around I decided to do the mature, responsible thing and buy a bike helmet. There are a million scary bike accident stories out there and I have wasted no time totally freaking myself out by reading them, so now I proudly strap on my helmet (I got one of those skateboarding-type ones, so obviously all the 13-year-old German boys will think I’m the coolest) and so far no helmet hair or crashes have come my way whilst out and about.
I’ve been feeling uninspired to cook lately (although I’m still loving baking), so I’ve been eating out at places like Transit, Bonanza Coffee Heroes, and Burgermeister. I had the best coffee of my life today at Bonanza Coffee Heroes (which you might have seen on Instagram) and it was a major day brightener. I’ve been trying not to drink coffee every day now since I’m not getting up early anymore for work, but it’s tough when there’s so many magnificent cafés in this town beckoning to me from the street corners.
I went to the most hipster event of my life on Friday night, which involved a CD release party for an artist called “Dinner” who wore a huge scarf hanging on his head while singing very close into the mic over some electronic background beats. His songs were available on vinyl, cassette tape, and iTunes, and the show was complemented by a projected light show of random shapes onto the walls of the vodka distillery where it was being held. Needless to say, we left after just a few minutes, but the whole time we were there I found it nearly impossible to hide my amusement as all of the incredibly cool people around me whipped out their iphones to capture the moment. There’s a lot of blunt bangs and ironic facial hair in Berlin, and when they all gather in one place it can be a little overwhelming, both visually and musically, as it would appear.
Although many things in Berlin are very traditionally German- the quality of service (indifferent and sometimes poor), the quiet Sundays, the well-behaved dogs- I find myself speaking, hearing, and reading vast amounts of English. Lots and lots of Americans, Australians, and Brits have made Berlin their home hoping to capitalize on or check out the hip parts of town, and despite their creative contributions to the city I am disappointed that I don’t get to spend more time around Berliners and other Germans. Maybe it’s just preemptive nostalgia for Deutsch kicking in (I don’t have set plans to return to Germany after this semester as of now) but I find myself wishing for more opportunities to speak in German for extended periods of time outside of class. I’m going to Dresden next weekend to visit an old friend from high school, so hopefully that will be a German-filled few days and a nice break from the Berlin expat bubble.
I’m almost exactly at the halfway mark right now of my time in Berlin- I think things will start speeding up as I really get going on schoolwork and settle in a bit more. I’m trying to find some sort of part-time internship in the city, but most places are looking for someone long term and full time. I submitted another application yesterday, so we’ll see what happens with that one this week.
Otherwise… not much else is new! I recently reread Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire and cried when (spoiler alert) Cedric died, and am now reading a book about Hilary Clinton’s time as Secretary of State that Emily suggested and loving it so far! It is taking me right back to the middle of the diplomatic world. Have a happy Sunday friends 🙂