Berlin Life Updates: December 2019 Ends With A Bang (Again)

(Last Updated On: January 9, 2020)

Berlin Life Updates: December 2019 Ends With A Bang (Again) – In November, I was finally released from my Robocop like foot brace, spent two weeks at home in Toronto, and contended with numerous issues on my blog.  

Recommended reading: Last month’s recap post, Berlin Life Updates: November 2019 A Visit Home

While November was more or less a “blah” month, December was a whole lot of fun and ended on a high note. For the first time in a long time, I’m looking at 2020 with a slightly hopeful but still cautious mix of determination and optimism.

Read on for our latest expat life installment, “Berlin Life Updates: December 2019”. 

Berlin Life Updates: December 2019 Ends With A Bang (Again)

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1) The Cold AKA Plague That Followed Me Into December 

 

 
 
 
 
 
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Festive things making me happy right now

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My vacation cold (plague?) spilled over into merry and festive December. When I arrived back home in Canada, I felt like a zombie cast member of AMC’s Walking Dead. Sickness combined with jetlag left me feeling so dead that on the first day I was due back to work, I ended up calling in sick. 

The North American version of me panicked at the very idea thinking about how bad this would look to my colleagues. But my day at home was no party as I spent most of it buried under the blankets on my bed snoozing, coughing, and hugging my pillow thinking about how terrible I felt (pillows are great cuddly companions btw). The extra day off helped enough that I felt strong enough to return to work the following day, albeit loaded with meds. 

The important lesson learned was to embrace the German mentality of staying home when you’re actually feel sick and to not unnecessarily fight through it. This is also part of my more recently adopted vow to treat myself better, something I’m still only learning to do (more on that later). For example, little indulgences like the flowers in the photo above really helped boost my overall mood. 

2) This Caterpillar Became A Social Butterfly Again (At Least Sort Of)

 

 
 
 
 
 
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Latent Being

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In addition to the sickness souvenir I brought back from Canada, I’ve been feeling highly anxious for a while now. Whenever I get stressed, I tend to fade out pretty fast and hide, much like a turtle does in its shell. I retreat to the sanctuary of home, don’t socialize, and cancel all plans. I close myself off to the world until I regain a semblance of composure, only to emerge when I’m feeling more like me again. The biggest problem I’ve had is that the stress has been so intense and showing no signs of stopping, that I became more and more of a recluse in recent months.

Once I ditched the cold, I tried to shake off those overwhelming feelings and get over the ensuing social anxiety. So I feigned happiness and motivation (at least initially) to do things even when all I wanted to do was stay at home curled up in bed with Netflix or a good book. 

My plan actually worked as being around good people really helped to lift my spirits. While the source of stress is still there and I still need to figure out how to deal with that, life in general became much more manageable. Notably fantastic highlights over the month were my company’s Great Gatsby themed Christmas party, finally seeing Latent Being at Kraftwerk, dinners out at Chotto and Dolden Mädel, as well as attending December’s Travel Massive event which was an intimate piano concert in a lounge at the Orania Hotel.

3) I Finally Had A Real Vacation (Even Though I’d Just Come Back From One A Few Weeks Before) 

 

 
 
 
 
 
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My tiny little Christmas tree – complete with one whimsical little cat ornament (because I am a crazy cat lady)

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Yes, I had two weeks off at home in Canada over the last half of November but trips home are never truly a vacation in the common sense of the word. Most vacations I take involve sleeping in, taking long meals, and exploring the destination – seeking out weird and offbeat sites or whatever else strikes my fancy. Most importantly vacations mean being absolved of anything that closely resembles obligation or responsibility. My time home was a frantic rush of running around meeting friends, spending time with family, shopping for things to bring back to Berlin, and dealing with the plethora of emotions.

I don’t know how others keep their emotions at bay when they’re home after being away for a long time, but mine encompassed quite a wide spectrum. From absorbing all the guilt trips that are hurled at you like sharp knives because you’re simply not home anymore, to embracing the joy at reuniting with loved ones, regretting when you can’t make meetings with friends happen knowing you likely won’t be back in 2020, and realizing how disconnected you feel from your former home and way of life is a lot. I did have one interesting personal revelation and that was that Berlin is now really my home. 

That’s heaps of feelings for anyone to handle, especially a stressed and burned version of yourself. The entire vacation seemed to fly by and it felt like there were too many things to do and not enough time to do them. I came home both emotionally and physically spent and in dire need of a “real vacation” where I could do things like sleep in with no alarm, cook at home, go for long walks, read books, and silly things that bring me joy. 

I had almost two weeks off at the end of the year, a ritual I’ve now practiced three years in a row. It’s literally the highest form of self care I can practice and I wish that the reset came more than once a year. I wrapped up 2019 by spending a fair amount of time alone, as well as with friends, and tending to various things like writing new blog posts, decorating my little Christmas tree (complete with one single crazy cat lady ornament), and treating myself to little things that made me happy.

4) I Spent Christmas Alone (On Purpose) 

 

 
 
 
 
 
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Merry Christmas from #Berlin!

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I purposely set out to spend Christmas alone this year. I know this may sound weird but I wouldn’t have spent it any other way. My vacation actually kicked off on December 24 and I needed my alone time to set the right tone for the rest of my time off. On Christmas day, I slept in, made a nice breakfast, visited a Christmas market, took a walk through Mitte, came home and took a long soaking bath, and Facetimed some family and friends.

It was exactly what I needed.

5) I Took Myself Out On A Hot Date

 

 
 
 
 
 
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About tonight – I watched Peanut Butter Falcon (Also – holidays are awesome!)

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What else is there to say for this edition of “Berlin Life Updates: December 2019”? The day after Christmas I watched a light hearted move, Peanut Butter Falcon at the Babylon in Kreuzberg. Afterwards, I had Korean food at Chikogi. Again, I did all of this alone. 

It’s a bit silly, taking yourself out on a “hot date”. Yet, the most important thing is not what I did but more that I took myself out of the house and stopped the repeated pattern of being a recluse at home. I did something fun and broke out of my usual routine of work, home, work, home. It’s clear that I need to make more room for fun things when I return to work in January. 

6) Updates From The Blogging World 

 

 
 
 
 
 
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Ringing in the new year with ❤️

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While I have not resolved all of my blogging issues on the backend (it’s still a work in progress), I managed to write a couple of new posts:

💖A Year in Review: My Top Ten Blog Posts Of 2019 – Looking back at my top ten blog posts of 2019 – popular topics were advice on Berlin life, city guides to places like Hamburg, & naturally, German nudity.

💖A Year in Review: Where I Travelled In 2019 – Looking back at where I travelled in 2019. It includes Hungary, Sweden, Greece, Malta, Germany, Poland, Estonia, Finland, Czech Republic, Ukraine, & Canada.

I also started a new Facebook to connect people looking for work in Berlin. It will be a place to get tips and tricks, find out about job postings, get support and inspiration, and more. Join our group!

It was tough this month seeing the blog’s traffic drop to the lowest it’s been in several years. Any hopes and aspirations of reducing my work week to four days or using extra money earned from the blog to pay down debts and build savings are currently on hold.

One of my primary goals for 2020 will be to make my blog a successful side business.

7) I’m On Track To Be Healthy

 

 
 
 
 
 
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Tonight at home – cooked myself dinner and I’m watching a Netflix documentary series about WW2. Also I signed up for the gym today. BOOM!

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During my time off, I made a concerted effort to cook a lot more at home, especially meals that were more healthy than my usual choices. I even signed up for FitX and my plans are to start going to the gym regularly.

2019 took a huge toll on me in terms of health – one part due to physical restrictions from the surgery I had and later on, the foot injury. Add in the ongoing depression and anxiety which resulted staying at home a lot and other bad habits, I’m know very well that I’m not the best version of myself.

This leads to one of my other primary goals for 2020 – get healthy, both mentally and physically. Yes, I will cook more at home and go the gym, but many other things need to happen. I need to change a lot of things and rather than list my bold (and likely unachievable) plans here now, I’ll report back as to what I accomplished instead of listing off goals that I didn’t meet. 

8) A Day Trip To Szczecin For A Day Of Health And Wellness

 

 
 
 
 
 
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Moods

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In my ongoing effort to be kind to myself during my vacation, I took off on another day trip to Szczecin, Poland for the day. This time it wasn’t for beer and pierogies (although that was also a motivation), but to spend the day at Baltica Spa. I had a massage and facial, plus spent an hour or so in their wellness area which includes steam rooms, a sauna, and jacuzzi.

A couple other highlights were having an uber yummy pastrami bagel at Bajgle Króla Jana and walking through the city that’s become so familiar over the years.

9) I Celebrated NYE with friends

 

 
 
 
 
 
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Happy new year 🎈

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I’d seriously thought about spending New Year’s Eve alone as well, but of course, I knew it would be more fun with others. I had dinner and drinks at a friend’s place, went to watch the fireworks at midnight in a nearby park, and then headed home around 3:00 a.m.

That’s probably the earliest I’ve come home on New Year’s Eve and I’m super proud about that – I even skipped clubbing with the same friends!

Only one event killed my celebratory vibes – which was a bunch of police officers boarding my S-Bahn car as I was coming home. Their guns were drawn and pointed! It was surreal to watch them in action as they went about peacefully arresting a guy. I still have no idea what happened and I’m glad it was resolved without issue, but it was intense and frightening.

What’s Coming In January?

 

 
 
 
 
 
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Post New Year’s apocalypse

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As mentioned above, I’ll be focusing on two main things – this blog and my well being. I’m even thinking about embracing clichés and trying out a “dry January”. I also won’t be travelling anywhere until February, so it will be all about taking moments to enjoy my beloved Berlin. 

This wraps up my “Berlin Life Updates: December 2019” post. Stay tuned for the next update and if you’d like to read my past monthly updates in the meantime, browse through the rather dusty archives of my “Berlin diaries”.

Berlin Life Updates: December 2019 – Good To Know

cherylhoward.com Newsletter1) Book a guided tour when you’re visiting Berlin:

 

2)Book a hotel in Berlin:

Booking.com

3) If you’d like to stay at an Airbnb apartment, first time users can use this link for a €34 travel credit.

4)If you’re travelling around Germany road trip style, rent a car.

5) There is even more Berlin life and Germany related posts on the blog – check some of our festive content:

💖A Berlin Walking Food Tour With Eat-the-World – Walk and eat your way through the German capital by taking this Berlin walking food tour through Neukölln with Eat the World.

💖Photos from a Sunday in Berlin – Photos from a Sunday in Berlin, including autumn scenes, happenings at Alexanderplatz, and train station snaps.

💖Moving To Berlin Guide: Tips From Someone Who’s Done It Twice – This moving to Berlin guide is the most comprehensive guide out there. Find where to learn German, find a job, secure a flat, open a bank account, & more.

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*Disclosure – This post contains some affiliate links. If you book a tour, car rental, or hotel through any of these links, I’ll earn a tiny commission at no extra cost to you. Thanks for your support!

Founder of cherylhoward.com. Canadian in Berlin. Frequent traveller now at 43 countries and counting.

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