To really feel like you live in a place – to feel a real sense of belonging in a city – you need four things: A literal place to live (obviously), work of some sort, a lover or something like a love life, and then this fourth, often overlooked thing: a social life.
We take friends for granted a bit. When I moved here from Brooklyn, I sort of forgot that I’d have to start from scratch to have an active social calendar: to know where to go and what to do, and have people to do these things with. It can be quite hard to make solid plans! Berlin is a vibrant city, of course. With so many visitors and hostels and everything, it doesn’t take too long to learn that, say, clubs exist. But without some effort, you might think that nightlife is all about Matrix! Who knows when you’ll meet the cool person that turns you on to Sisyphos?
Fortunately, there are lots of resources out there to help those of us new to the city. After you’ve sorted your anmeldung and visa and all the headache stuff, and even found an apartment (miraculously!), it’s time to have fun. I don’t need to tell you about Tinder or im gegenteil or the many other dating apps focused on finding love and sex. But finding friends is another story. It’s sort of hard to imagine a Tinder for friendships, isn’t it?
This very website – iHeartBerlin – is a good start, I think. It lists great events and has guides for clubs, bars and restaurants. And certainly plenty of good ideas for dates or friend groups. And as proud of our work as we are 😉 we aren’t the only Berlin blog in town. There’s also Finding Berlin, Berlin Food Stories and Exberliner, just to name a few. All of these blogs aim to express our love and appreciation for the greatness of the city, and all can help new Berliners to discover things to do.
Another resource I wasn’t quite aware of before I came here is actually Facebook, believe it or not. Of course Americans use Facebook (a ton), but we use it a bit differently. More specifically – just for posts of news and stalking each other. There isn’t the proliferation of specialized groups there the way there is in Europe. Sell Your Stuff, Free Your Stuff, Free Advice, Berlin Expats, Berlin Meet-ups, … these pages are a great way to start conversations. Search around and request to join them!
Another resource that didn’t even exist when I moved here are various event, neighborhood and meet-up apps, some of which you can find in our new Berlin App guide from 2018.
And there’s a subreddit called /r/berlinsocialclub, which attracts a lot of visitors looking for drinking buddies or new friends to do something with, and that’s cool too, but each post only seems to reach a few people.
It’s funny – this weekend, there are some gallery openings and parties that I’m curious about, but many of my friends are out of town. I could ask out a girl to join me, but I’m not sure I really want it to feel like a date. There’s so much pressure in a dating situation. It’d be cool to casually go somewhere with an acquaintance or stranger without the awkward pressure of escalating the relationship. Sometimes we just want a noncommittal outing and someone to stand with as we people-watch.
Regardless of how you go about it, it’s important to get out there and talk with people, to laugh and have fun! I say this having spent a winter here locked up in my room, writing. It’s dangerous for the mind to be too withdrawn, and unhealthy for the ego to always go out alone. So start a mild conversation with a stranger and tackle the outside world with some companionship – it’s called a social life 😉 The world is full of new opportunities!
photos: Claudio Rimmele, Alejandro Arretureta