Berlin Life Updates: January 2019 Was About Physical & Mental Health

Berlin Life Updates: January 2019 Was About Physical & Mental Health

I’m happy to report that I’m becoming way more comfortable with commitment. This is the second month in a row where I’ve remained true to my promise and published a Berlin expat life update post. Last month, I talked about some rad accomplishments I made in 2018, how I got better with how I spent and saved my hard earned money, my trip to Mainz, and more. 

Recommended reading: My last update, Berlin Life Updates: December 2018 Ends With A Bang.

Berlin Life Updates: January 2019 Was About Physical & Mental Health

Berlin Life Updates - January 2019[bctt tweet=”Berlin life updates for @cherylhowardcom – January 2019 Was About Physical & Mental Health” username=”cherrysberries”]

Here’s the latest and greatest happenings with my Berlin life.

1) My First Cold Of The Winter Season

2019 didn’t start off on the best note healthwise. I went out on New Year’s Eve knowing full well a cold was coming on, but decided to push myself and have a good time anyway. Regrets followed the next morning when I woke up not only with a wicked hangover, but also a bad cold which lasted around 10 days. Even though I knew better, I still went to work every day as well.

Despite this, I conquered the cold like a boss, as I drank a lot of tea, made homemade chicken noodle soup (for the first time!), and stocked up on every vitamin possible. Vitamin C, Zinc, and D are all part of my morning routine now. 

The most amazing part of all of this is that last year around this time, I’d spent much of the winter nursing a cold. This year couldn’t be more different and it’s all because I’ve done a lot more to take better care of myself.

I’m Almost A Non-Smoker, Like Really 


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S-Bahn design

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While I still officially can’t say I’m a non-smoker, I’m inching closer to that reality. I only smoked 3-4 cigarettes over the course of the entire month. Why I even did that is beyond me, but I’m very near my goal of being 100% smoke free.

A Spa Night


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Later afternoon light at my apartment RN

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A friend invited me to spend a Saturday evening at Vabali Spa. As it’s one of my favourite places in Berlin, I jumped at the invitation. We’d a nice time touring the different saunas, feasting on dinner while wearing bathrobes, and taking dips in the heated outdoor pool and jacuzzi. It’s surreal to be sitting in a warm pool (naked!) watching the steam rise up around you on a cold rainy night in Berlin. 

The only thing that was disturbing was the long queue at the entrance – Vabali’s so popular these days that we had to wait more than 20 minutes in line just to enter the spa. My pro tip – avoid the crowds, take a day off work, and go mid-week. 

My Surgery Finally Happened 


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Most unglamorous photo ever?! This is what my life looks like for the next week. Home recovering from a medical thing until the end of next week.

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I finally had my long anticipated surgery at the end of the month. I went in for a CO2 laser surgery to remove abnormal cells from my “private area” that if left unattended could’ve become cancerous at some point.  The surgery went well, the hospital staff were professional and caring, and I’m now back to work but still in recovery mode (I’ll share more about that in next month’s recap).

The experience started with a pre-surgery appointment one week prior to having the actual surgery. A very tired me arrived at the hospital in Buch for 8:00 am. I did some blood tests, had yet another pap smear, an ultrasound, talked with my doctor extensively about the procedure and all the related risks, and concluded by meeting the anesthesiologist. They also gifted me with some brochures about how to prepare for my hospital stay – like what to pack in your overnight bag, not to eat or drink on the day of surgery etc. It took about three or four hours to get through the day and I was home by early afternoon. 

Funny for me was how much effort they go through to explain every possible risk. For example, if they need to give you a blood transfusion, it’s possible that you could get HIV or when they insert a tube in your mouth to help you breathe during the surgery, it’s possible they could break your teeth. I know they do this for legal reasons and to make sure you’re informed, but it’s terrifying to hear all of this just before having an operation.  Overall, I especially liked being able to speak with my doctor and ask lots of questions. It made me feel better knowing what to expect and that the surgery was more minor than I’d originally thought. 

A week later, I arrived at the hospital for my “big day”. I checked into my room, got prepped, was on the table at 7 am, and back to my room around 10 am where I bunked with three other women. I passed the time by celebrating simple wins throughout the day, like when they let me go the toilet without a nurse escorting me, being able to get out of that hospital gown, eating lunch, and getting all the gadgets out of my arm. A friend came by that night and we spent a few hours in the hallway chatting and laughing about work, boys, and life. A fun distraction, considering I would’ve just at there in my room bored. I spent only one night and was able to go home on my own the next day in a taxi.

More amusing cultural observations? Germans don’t care about privacy at all. I was wheeled in my bed to and from the surgery area through the main hallways of the hospital where everyone can just stare at you. There were no curtains in the room – especially daunting when one of my roommates kept staring at me without a smile or a nod. I saw a lot of bare bottoms, as you know those gowns don’t hide anything. One shocker was the surprise needle before bedtime which they inject into your stomach to prevent thrombosis. That one hurt! Lastly, the food was terrible (the Abendbrot in particular) and I was only saved by the food I brought and some other snacks my friend gifted me with.

All in all, the experience wasn’t so bad and I’m happy to have gotten it over with so I can focus on my recovery and next steps. There’s a possibility for more surgery later this year for another unrelated matter.

My Mental Health Wasn’t The Best 


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I spent much of January an emotional mess, one minute happy and the next minute shattered. I cried in the bathroom at work, on the S-Bahn, in the doctor’s office, and at home in bed.  You’d think after all of the spa days, I would have been in a better place mentally. 

Nothing was ever really as bad as it seemed and I think the prospect of having surgery bothered me more than I cared to admit. I also took on too much – I worked late too many nights and busied myself with other unnecessary things that could have been left for a later date. If I learned anything during January, it’s that I need to say no to way more things, work less hours, and slow down.

Sometimes I’m Social


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Proof I was at the Hertha game last night

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Like usual, I went out and did stuff like  discover new dive bars in Schöneberg, watch a Hertha Game in the cold (it was really cold!), and go to a decision making workshop at The School of Life in Prenzlauer Berg. I’m not sure if I’m better at making decisions yet, but I hope it’s going to help. 

A Weekend in Budapest


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Not wanting to come back to Berlin tomorrow

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My first trip of 2019 was to Budapest. My weekend in Budapest included staying in a beautiful boutique hotel, falling in love with a library situated in a former castle, and spending hours indulging in the spa experience at Gellert Baths.

Another cool part of my weekend away was the wonderful Canadian woman who I hired to look after my cat Izzy. She took good care of my high maintenance feline and kept her happy while I was away. She spammed me with plenty of photos and videos each day and made me feel totally relaxed when I was on vacation. If you live in Berlin and are looking for an amazing cat sitter, send me an email, and I’ll give you her contact details (she doesn’t have a website). 

I’m Waiting For The Tax Man To Rain A Little Money On Me 


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There was BOTH sun and snow this morning so I wrote how I felt about it

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I had to wait for some pin codes to arrive in the mail from Elster, but I finally completed my 2018 tax return with SteuerGo. I’m now patiently waiting for my refund to arrive in my bank account. I’m hoping that because I completed my return so early, that it won’t take as long as it did for the Finanzamt to process my return. 

Blogging Like No One’s Reading (But They Are)


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Hipster Budapest (and where can I buy a vintage typewriter in Berlin?)

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As planned, I’ve been blogging a lot more and published these new pieces in January:

1) A Year in Review: Where I Travelled In 2018 – find out all the new places I travelled in 2018 and the places that I revisited.

2) The Best Hotels in Szczecin Poland – read about some of the best places to stay in one of my favourite Polish cities.

3) Weird & Offbeat: Ronald Reagan Statue in Budapest – learn about how a statue of an American president ended up in Budapest. 

Meeting And Not Meeting Goals


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Guess who got flowers … for herself? 🌼

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How did I do goal wise during January? You can see my goals in my December recap post.

✅ From a financial perspective, so so. On a positive note, I managed to fix a problem with my line of credit in Canada and I put money into my Canadian savings. As mentioned above, I also filed my tax return. Then I decided to spoil myself in Budapest, which meant not putting money into my German savings and using my credit card a little too excessively. 

✅ Travelwise, I stuck to my plan and travelled to Budapest. 

✅ From a health side, I still didn’t stop smoking entirely. I did eat healthier, but not healthy enough. I drank less, but still more than I should’ve. I had the surgery and am on the road to recovery. I still suffer from insomnia and if anything, my worries have only increased. My ability to withstand tough moments is almost non-existent. 

✅ I rocked my blog goals, publishing four posts in January alone and growing my traffic by 13%. I still haven’t been able to stop caring so much about Instagram, but I’m working on it. I know it sounds lame, but it’s hard not to compare yourself to others and want their levels of followers or engagement, never mind being skeptical of methods people use to be perceived as “successful” on the platform. 

What’s Coming in February?

February’s going to be pretty low key (aka super boring) as I recover from surgery, return to work, and come out of hibernation. I do have tentative plans to go to a concert and comedy show one weekend though. 

That’s it for my “Berlin Life Updates January 2018” post. Stay tuned for the February update and in the meantime, sign-up for my newsletter or browse my past Berlin diaries.

Good to Know 

1) If you’re looking to explore Berlin, book a city tour. 


2) Book a hotel when you’re visiting Berlin and browse available options on

3)  If you are a fan of road trips, rent a car.

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

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