As I was growing up, verbal interactions in any language other than Polish were a pretty rare occurrence in my town. So when in 2014 I got a chance to spend my summer vacations at my brother’s in California, I couldn’t contain my excitement at actually being able to use English on an everyday basis. But it wasn’t before I experienced Berlin that I really got to know an environment truly fitting for a cosmopolitan spirit; I’ve realized that my typical day in Berlin comes with more linguistic challenges than I’d face in an entire year had I not moved here.
illustration: Jacqueline Pulsack
I LOVE going to the movies. I love seeing visual art and storytelling on the big screen, hearing sound through big speakers, my senses encapsulated. I love the architecture and physical space of going to the movies, entering from city streets into a particular lobby and then into the seats of an auditorium. I love the social aspect of congregating in a dark, silent room with others to pay attention to something important. Yes, I enjoy watching movies at home, but there’s something about a formal start time, a public event, a demand for reverence without distractions that only the cinema provides.
When I moved to Berlin from New York, I was worried how hard it might be to enjoy going to the movies. One of the best things about New York is its unabashed love for film, and the many wonderful theaters that celebrate quality cinema. The German-speaking world is such a big market — and most people are so subtitle-averse — that American films are generally dubbed over in German for theatrical release. If your German is still as bad as mine, this can be a serious problem!