A Sunny Weekend in Berlin
When I first arrived, I remember being so perplexed at how different Berlin was from, not only San Diego, but everywhere in general. I had never been to a city before where people weren’t trying in some way or another to fit in. People here don’t care what you think.
It’s like everyone fits in but at the same time no one actually does. Individuality and uniqueness are what matter. If you are from Berlin, you call yourself a Berliner and if you’re not but you live in Berlin, you eventually start feeling like one. It’s hard not to fall in love with a city that offers a range of activities, from partying till sunrise at one of a kind techno clubs, to short train rides to a forestry town named Potsdam. Every day is different and every weekend is an adventure.
My weekend started with a 90’s party in Kreuzberg, one of the most hipster areas of Berlin, and ended with celebrating May Day, a German holiday similar to Labor Day in the US. In between, I remember getting lost in an area called Friedrichstraße. It all started when I decided to do some solo exploring. Yay me. I’m usually exploring with a group of friends I now consider my family away from home, but I was at a point where some alone time was much needed. You see, I am an extroverted introvert. I love people but I also very much enjoy spending time by myself. Anyway, back to my story. I got on a bus and decided to visit Museum Island. Museum Island is an area in Berlin between two canals where you can find art, food stands, music, and, you guessed it, museums! I explored for about two to three hours and ended up in the coolest book shop. I found it as I was leaving Museum Island, and it was the main reason that Saturday was one of my favorite afternoons in Berlin so far. It was a three-story bookstore. At first I hesitated to go inside because everything, of course, was in Deutsch, but in the corner of the second floor I found an English section. It wasn’t long before I was hooked. I went through so many books until I found something that caught my eye, the story of a young woman from San Francisco who became the CEO of her own multi-million-dollar company, NASTY GAL, before she turned 30. The name of the book is #GIRLBOSS and I most definitely recommend reading it. I don’t think I would have ever even heard of it if it wasn’t for my decision to walk in. I loved that they had seats by the windows from which you could see the sunset. I sat down in one of those comfy chairs and read away, for about two hours. I decided to buy the book and finish reading it at home.
As I walked out of the bookstore I realized I didn’t know how to get back home, but I also noticed I had a couple euros left, so I bought myself macadamia white chocolate ice cream. Best decision of my life. I kept walking and found a street performer that blew me away. He was playing acoustic guitar and singing his own lyrics with love and gusto. And there I was, on the other side of home (and by home, I mean San Diego) having the time of my life, appreciating this artist’s talent and eating ice cream.
After a lovely day in Friedrichstraße it was time to head back home and get ready for the rest of the night. At university and outside university, most international students stick with each other; and the German students do the same. Since I started my journey in Berlin I had not really hung out with any German students outside of class, however, this Saturday a couple friends and I got invited to one of their parties. I learned a lot that night. For one, Germans are not very open to inviting new friends into their already established circle of friends. Some were very nice to us and made sure we had a great time while others didn’t even try to say hi. I’m not shy so I approached them instead and I started asking random questions to learn more about their way of thinking and living.
I learned that although it is very hard to become good friends with them, once you’re in their circle, you are lifelong friends. Their get together was not that much different from “kickbacks” in California. There were around 20 people and a beer pong table was set up in one of the rooms. The only difference I noticed was the music that was playing. Berliners love techno.
I am so happy I got to spend some time with the German students outside of school, because I had this perception of them that I created from things I had observed and things I had heard. And let me tell you, it was quite inaccurate. That’s why they say to never judge a book by its cover, you never truly know what people are like until you get to know them on a personal level. Even then, people will continue to surprise you in many wonderful ways.