There have been some big changes in my life recently that warrant a blog post of their own, since they’ll change the content of this blog a bit. To cut to the chase, I have relocated to Berlin. This was not my original plan for the coming year. I finished my Fulbright year in June, went back home for a month in August and then returned to Germany at the end of August. The plan upon returning to Germany was for me to move in with my boyfriend in Marburg and start working in Frankfurt.
However, that plan never fully materialized for various reasons. I had an option for working in Frankfurt but it was far from ideal for me, and efforts to find alternative options were proving less than fruitful. As I was trying to figure out what my plans for the coming year would be, I was informed of an internship opportunity in Berlin that I knew I was well qualified for. Although I wasn’t thrilled by the prospect of moving across Germany so suddenly, I felt it was irresponsible of me not to at least apply when my options were otherwise so limited.
I applied, interviewed and was offered the position… so I took it. In a matter of a week my life in Germany shifted dramatically. I hope it’s for the better in the long run, but right now I’m feeling more than a little overwhelmed.
Up until now, I’ve always enjoyed blogging as a chance to, in particular, highlight both places and aspects of life in Germany that often go unappreciated by tourists and other short-term visitors. One thing that has made it possible for me to focus on these areas is the fact that most of my time in Germany has been spent in smaller, lesser-known places. I studied abroad in Marburg, a university town of 80,000. I worked a year in Fulda, a town of 60,000. My boyfriend is from a village outside of Göttingen with a population of about 2,000.
The best experiences I’ve had in Germany haven’t been epic nights out in clubbing districts or visiting huge, well-known cultural destinations. They’ve been spent drinking bottles of wine in front of castles, shooting off fireworks in the streets of a village or having a friend invite me to her home for Kaffee and Kuchen. None of these are necessarily things you can’t do in big cities, but the experiences have certainly been enhanced and often made more special by being in smaller settings.
All of what I have become so used to in my life in Germany has changed. No heads will turn when I walk down the street talking English – I’ll just be another American walking through Berlin. Speaking German in everyday interactions in the city will become an option rather than a necessity. I will no longer have to choose between catching the last bus of the night or staying out at the bar just a little bit later. And I will no longer have the feeling that I’m seeing sides of Germany most people never experience – or at least, I’ll have to work a lot harder for those moments.
I hope this doesn’t come off as too negative, because I am definitely very excited to start this new chapter. But I guess when people congratulate me on landing a position in Berlin, as though this is what I’ve been waiting for this whole time in Germany, I feel like a very important part of my experience in this country is being pushed to the backburner.
I am thrilled to experience Berlin as a resident, but it does not have my heart. My heart remains somewhere in the west -- in a town with a picturesque castle on the hill, in a town exuding 18th-century beauty, and in a village tucked away among the rolling fields.