Why I’m Afraid to Leave Berlin

Why I’m Afraid to Leave Berlin

photos: Beth James. 

When I think about Berlin I imagine the U-Bahn rattling on the overhead tracks, pigeons flapping above rooftops and the faint sound of techno in the distance. Berlin is graffiti, sweaty nightclubs, beers on the canal, weird art exhibitions, midnight bike rides, sticky summer days that wrap around you like a blanket and icy, grey winters that make you forget what summer feels like. Berlin is late nights and early mornings, lake swims, laughter on rooftops, marathon dance sessions and afternoons in the park, shoes off, lying on your back under a hazy sun. It‘s a place that tempts you and taunts you, that lifts you up and tears you down. Where freedom reigns and no-one gives a shit. It gets under your skin, and the longer you stay the harder it is to leave.

Berlin is also an identity, and many wear it as a badge of honour. That’s why you see people with Instagram accounts that say their name and “Berlin”. Because it’s a vibe, it stands for something. Being associated with it explains who you are. I’m finding it hard to untangle myself from this identity I have been wrapped in for the better part of a decade. It has taken a lot of soul-searching to make the decision to leave my long-time lover, with its dark heart and endless thrills. Over the years, whenever I felt it could be the right moment to go I would be sucked back in, somehow pulled by an invisible current. I would come up with a million reasons why this was the place for me, and why I could never find anything like what I had here.

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The Unexpected Comfort of the Mundane Life at Home

The Unexpected Comfort of the Mundane Life at Home

photos: Roger Sabaté

What a fucking rollercoaster ride. I’m sure most of you will agree that the last 3 weeks have been some of the most intense ones we’ve all lived through. It’s hardly an exaggeration that what’s happening right now is the biggest shared global experience since… ever? I don’t even think the world wars actually immediately effected every single country in the world as this pandemic does. And I guess even previous outbreaks didn’t reach as far and as fast because back then the world was just much less connected than it is now.

But while it’s crazy outside in the world, what most people are really experiencing right now is actually happening on a much smaller landscape. For us, everything’s going down now in our own four walls. And unless you are still working and have not been confined to the home office, the longest way you walk from there is probably the small number of blocks you have to pass to reach your nearest supermarket. Our world feels like it shrunk remarkably.

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Game-Changers for Singles in Self-Isolation

Game-Changers for Singles in Self-Isolation

photos: Kinga Cichewicz

Just when I thought that being single in Berlin couldn’t possibly get any harder, the level of difficulty has skyrocketed because of the pandemic. It feels like suddenly, one is basically stripped of all the cool Berlin single life privileges but has to carry all of its burdens. Ironically, in pre-Corona times, singles would sometimes get annoyed by some of the very things that actually can bring us solace in the current circumstances of isolation.

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The Quarantine Diaries: Gardener of the House

The Quarantine Diaries: Gardener of the House

Normally, he is the gardener of the house. I watched him year after year, half paying attention. Seeds, coconut-husk soil; add water and in a few months boom… Chilis. Too many to consume. Habaneros, Thai, Jalapenos, Scotch Bonnets. The heat lamp has been set for a few hours in the evenings, on an automatic timer. Every day it clicks on and off. I think maybe I will go mad. I think maybe this is a gift. In our apartment, I set up to work at our dining room table. It’s not the most comfortable set up. The hard chair cuts the blood flow, just above my knees.

One conference call has ended and tasks have been assigned. We have no idea when we will meet in the office again as a team. The dates keep changing. The company provides status updates, the chains of command feign bold ignorance. We’re never quite sure of what is happening at the top, that’s just how it is. They leave that part out of the marketing campaigns and new hire information packets. We are the masses, with seemingly no control. I look over at the seedlings. If I don’t water them, they will surely die, but how much water is too much? I have no direction and no green thumb. Instead, I have an internal lie detector, razor-sharp detachment skills, and Google.

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10 Awesome Podcasts from Berlin You Should Tune Into

10 Awesome Podcasts from Berlin You Should Tune Into

The Kyoo. 

Whether you’re currently exploring previously unknown levels of boredom, or looking to take your mind off your own anxious thoughts around the continuing corona crisis, listening to some podcasts might be just what you need! Check out these ten diverse recommendations with topics ranging from yoga and meditation to news and culture. Some of the podcasts might also give you a chance to work on your German!

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The Quarantine Diaries: My Pet Slug in CoronaVirus Times

The Quarantine Diaries: My Pet Slug in CoronaVirus Times

There I was, in my Berlin kitchen, minding my own business. Preparing a salad at a leisurely pace when I noticed a round, gooey, grey, slimy, blob on one of the bio salad leaves (has anyone else noticed bio supermarkets are less hit by the panic shoppers?). On closer inspection, the blob turned out to be a very small, dare I say cute, slug. What to do? I considered putting it on my balcony but quickly thought otherwise as I didn’t want to put my darling plants, and recently sole companions, at risk. Perhaps I would wrap it in a small piece of lettuce and throw it out the window. No. Living on the 5th floor, that would be an unnecessary risk and irresponsible (like those teenagers throwing a Corona -no, not the beer- party at Pankow this week).

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Making Sense of the Elusive Charm of Berlin-Kreuzberg

Making Sense of the Elusive Charm of Berlin-Kreuzberg

photos: Roger Sabaté

For me, Kreuzberg has always been a bit of a mixed bag. Don’t get me wrong, I do understand that a lot of people especially love this district, and I certainly have an appreciation for it, too. But to answer what’s exactly the appeal of Kreuzberg, this requires a bit of elaborating.

For a quite long time, Kreuzberg was anything but popular for the regular Berliner. In fact, in the time of the division of Berlin, the district was not exactly coveted. This might have been related to the proximity to the Berlin Wall. The small district had three sides of the wall towards Mitte, Friedrichshain, and Treptow. As history has taught us, the areas towards the wall were considered dangerous – there were cases of border patrol shooting at people on the Western side by accident thinking it was people from the East fleeing. I’m not sure if this is actually an urban myth, but it did come up several times.

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The Invisible Devastating Effect of the Corona Virus Panic on Artists, Freelancers and Small Businesses

The Invisible Devastating Effect of the Corona Virus Panic on Artists, Freelancers and Small Businesses

As a kid born in postsocialist Poland, I only associated empty supermarket shelves with distant times of communism only present in the memories of my parents. It’s quite ironic that the first time I actually witnessed a similar image was through the eyes of my German flatmate, who documented her struggle of shopping for toilet paper in Berlin just last week. That instance was followed by countless others, making Coronavirus the common denominator of practically everyone’s social media feed. But there are more serious economic consequences to this general panic – some of them especially perceptible to freelancers and small businesses. 

Jokes involving the sudden scarcity of toilet paper and the sales drop of Corona beer could be regarded as funny if they hadn’t been indicative of an unprecedented hysteria surrounding the virus outbreak. A hysteria that is way more widespread than the virus itself, and so far affected greater numbers of people. 

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What Makes Berlin the Perfect Base for Remote Studying

What Makes Berlin the Perfect Base for Remote Studying

Constant personal rebranding has become quite common in recent years. No one raises an eyebrow when people want to try a new direction for their career and/or take the time to focus on their education. To make such a plan effective, it’s important to figure out what options are available and make an informed choice. In this guide, we want to tell you a bit about remote studying and what makes Berlin the perfect base for this kind of education. 

To provide you with expert knowledge on the topic, we spoke to our colleague Prof. Dr. Katharina Michel, head of administration of the DBU – Digital Business University of Applied Sciences, who is also based inside the dynamic Blogfabrik in Kreuzberg, our creative and inspiring home of the last 5 years. We want to take a closer look at Berlin in its role as a home base for remote studying and will be using the DBU as our practical example.

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Hi Mum, Yeah Berlin’s Great! Someone Wanted to Pee on My Face

Hi Mum, Yeah Berlin’s Great! Someone Wanted to Pee on My Face

Mum’s developed a new habit. Whenever I call home these days she likes to ask if I ‘have anyone special’ in my life. Her voice drops a little as she tiptoes around the question. Subsequently, my new habit is tiptoeing around the answer. Of course, I have lots of special people in my life but none of the ‘steady boyfriend’ variety to which I know she’s referring.

People often say that dating is a game. I have no idea what they mean by that, but the past few months of dating in Berlin has me thinking about the good, clean, family fun that is Uno. If you haven’t played the game in a while, here’s a quick refresher: each player is dealt a hand of cards that is, on the outset, as random as they get. There are colors, numbers, symbols, wild cards, draw two, draw four. There are so many combinations, the aim is to reduce your cards one-by-one. You know you’re doing well in the game when you’re left with a single card. As with any game, a good shuffle results in a better play. My recent dating experience has delivered a cross-section of men that is truly difficult to describe which means the cards in this game were shuffled by an evil genius.

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