It has now been officially one week since I arrived in Berlin and alot has happened. Adapting, homesickness and my classes are a couple things I have been dealing with this past week so I’ll divide this blog up to address each topic in the order I listed them in. We begin!
A DIFFERENT TYPE OF LIVING
“Ich spreche kein Deutsch.”
I have used this phrase A LOT during my time here. Essentially although Berlin is a cultural melting pot for different cultures and has some of the more diverse populations available globally, Berlin is still in Germany, and Germany speaks German. Locals try to be as accommodating as possible and I have often found that many people do speak English in Berlin. This however has not saved me from dealing with the language barrier problem many people face abroad. It prevents you from communicating even simple things such as asking for directions or more important things like building connections with the locals.
This and many other small things remind me that I am not at home. There are no such things as free water cups, or free water refills here in Germany. A gym membership requires a German bank account. The streetlights have no intermittent yellow light. Nothing is open on Sundays, including most libraries. These things are not like home. If I have to the describe how living in Germany feels like I would use the word “Efficiency”. The cars are faster and the streetlights shine green for a shorter time. People get to where they need to as fast as possible while still maintaining order in the streets. The hustle and bustle of Berlin can be quite overwhelming for many, but it is hard to not appreciate how alive the city seems.
A HOME AWAY FROM HOME?
This city is full of life. In many ways however, it feels like I am still doing things I would do in Berkeley. I walk to class everyday. Do my daily readings. Work on homework. This is all familiar to me. In many ways Berlin is not too different from life in America. But I miss my family, my friends and my routine from back home. It is hard to come here and feel like you don’t know anyone in a foreign land. But it has definitely made me reflect and grow as a person.
If I feel this estranged coming to a land where my language is well-known then how must people coming into the USA without English feel like? It must be hard. Especially if you are immediately judged as an outsider based on your appearance and do not have the power to defend yourself. I’m only going to feel like an outsider for 8 weeks. I will only miss my family for 8 weeks. I will only experience a minor language barrier for 8 weeks…
Some people will go on feeling like an outsider for years just for the minor chance of having a better life. Thank you so much for your sacrifice mom. Algún día todo valdrá la pena…
A COMPLEX SUBJECT
Class is hard. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.
To be fair, I was never expecting my class to be easy since I had already had the same Professor this last Spring semester for Linear Algebra. And although there are moments where I feel like I should quit or question why I keep studying a subject that I feel so far below in comprehension than my peers, I cannot give up yet on a subject that has expanded my mind like no other. Mathematics, from my point of view, is intrinsically tied to our own mental process of finding out truth in statements. I want to work on my own power to find truth. And if I can, I want to use truth to help people.
“That which does not kill us, makes us stronger.” – Friedrich Nietzsche
Thank you for taking the time to read my thoughts. I’ll update next week about new things or thoughts I have about my trip. I tried to highlight the most important and memorable parts of this first week which obviously means a lot of occurrences were sacrificed. I hope you enjoyed reading through this.
Bis nächste Woche!