18 Months in Berlin
It’s quite the celebratory milestone. Against the odds (a lot of people didn’t believe I would return, myself included), I came back to my beloved city and managed to stay despite having to surmount a number of obstacles that came up along the way.
18 Months in Berlin
18 months in Berlin and this time there’s no end in sight. It’s an odd feeling, to be honest.
Sometimes (or more like most of the time) I don’t know what I want. There are days when I love Berlin so much, I think that I’ll never leave. Then there are moments when the pull toward home makes me consider moving back to Toronto. Other times, my wanderlust seizes hold, and I contemplate living somewhere else in the world.
But for now and likely the next few years, I’m here, in a place that I love and where I’ve been the most happy.
Putting Down Those Roots
Due to instability from a work perspective, I spent the greater part of the past year in a high state of stress, constantly worrying about how to make ends meet and find new work. I was never sure if I’d be able to stay in Berlin and often wondered whether or not I’d have to head home and conclude my European adventures. As such, I was hesitant to make any long-term plans and never really felt settled.
Until now. Over the past few months, things finally started coming together, and I’m doing things that are turning me into a more permanent resident. A nice feeling after 18 months in Berlin.
I’m now in month four of a brand new job. When I lost my job in January, I was worried about how long it would take to find a new one. By the end of January, I’d signed a new contract, but it took more than a month to have my new visa approved. The waiting period is nerve-wracking as you have no idea how long it will take and whether or not it will be delayed and/or approved. That month was one of the longest of my life and included a lot of sleepless nights and tears. Finally, it was approved, and with less than 24-hours notice, I started work on March 1 with a new visa hilariously stating I was an “Agile Couch” instead of an “Agile Coach.”
In other “big” news, I’m moving into a new apartment in July! For the very first time, my name’s going to be on the apartment door and not someone else’s. While it’s furnished, I get to go shopping and fill it with some of my own things, like bedding, dishes, and whatnot. I can’t wait to be able to add my own personal touch to the apartment and make it feel like home. It also comes with a dishwasher and, more importantly, a bathtub (!): two items that I’ve sorely missed since moving back. While it means saying farewell to Prenzlauer Berg, where I’ve always lived, I’m looking forward to getting to know a new district.
I’m insured to the maximum. When I went to the bank to open a savings account, I left with every insurance you can think of, including liability, accident, and home insurance. Germans really have a thing for insurance, so now I really feel more integrated.
Come June, I’m finally getting my lazy butt back into a language class. After all my talk about why one needs to learn German in Berlin, I’m taking my own advice and climbing back into that intricate and complex world of German grammar.
A photo posted by Cheryl Howard (@cherylhowardblog) on
These days, I feel like I can hardly call myself a travel blogger as I haven’t left the country all year!
I can reasonably justify sitting still. I was unemployed the first two months of the year, and spending money on travel would have been foolish, to say the least. Since I’m midway through my six-month probation period, I’m holding off on any big trips. I’ll travel when things are even more settled than they are right now.
That said, I do have a couple of minitrips on the horizon! I’m headed on a solo weekend trip to Paris this June and then Montenegro for my birthday in September.
Paris is a dream come true! Since it’ll be my first time there, my experience will be a stereotypical one as I plan on taking in the main tourist sites. My belly rumbles with desire whenever I think about all the delicious French food and wine that I’m going to consume. After watching this Bon Iver video years ago, where they walk through the rainy streets of Montmartre, I booked a hostel in the area.
Then comes an extra-long weekend in Montenegro’s capital, Podgorica. It’s going to be an interesting experience, as a lot of people have written that the capital can easily be seen in a day and that it’s nothing more than a hole. That said, I intend to try to experience the best aspects of the city (there surely has to be some good things, right?) and then use it as a base to take 1-2 day-trips to the mountains.
If you have any tips for either city, please leave a comment below.
You may have noticed that I’ve not written much here on the blog lately. Luckily, I’ve had help from a number of people coming forward wanting to do expat interviews. My friend William also wrote about Send My Bags, a service that helps those moving abroad, and my other friend, Fiona, shared her favourite things about Berlin.
So why haven’t I been writing? Truth be told, I’ve simply been overwhelmed and continually exhausted!
During the first part of the year when I was off of work, I obviously had a lot of time on my hands, but I was busy applying for jobs, going on interviews, etc. I managed to publish some posts, but during the time I was waiting for my visa to be approved, I also lost heart. I was stressed and spent many days at home in a panicked state, and writing was the last thing on my mind. Also, not being able to travel for such a long period of time didn’t give me the chance to explore any new places and write about them.
These days, work takes up a lot of time, and I’m not at all unhappy with that. But it does have consequences, as it’s impossible to do everything.
I usually get home around 7:00-8:00 p.m. By the time I cook dinner, take care of my cat, and do things around the apartment, I’m tired. Come the weekend, I’m doing things like catching up on sleep, cleaning the house, grocery shopping, or doing laundry. So more often than not, when I do have free time, I settle into bed with a good book or catch something on Netflix (like these documentaries). Welcome to my über exciting life …
As staying home all of the time would be utterly boring and I’d likely go crazy, I also go out and have fun, be it a spa date at Vabali, a night out at the movies, or attending one of my Make Friends in Berlin events (which, by the way, has become one of the top meetup communities in the city with over 1,000 members!).
That said, I miss writing and want to publish more material here and reinvigorate my Berlin Refugees project, which has been at an unfortunate standstill for months. My goal for the remainder of 2016 is to become better at managing my personal time and to figure out how I can best keep up with writing while still having some free time on my hands.
Here’s to another 18 months in Berlin! Watch for my next “state of the nation” over the coming months.
Do you want to write for me? If you’re interested in writing content about Berlin (specifically relating to the expat experience and tips for living here), send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Lastly, if you like the Instagram photos sprinkled throughout the post like confetti after any good party in Berlin, follow me over at @cherylhowardblog.
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