Today marks the 180th day since my transition to Berlin from Seattle. It’s unbelievable that six months has already passed; in some ways I feel like I’ve been here for years, and other ways it seems like I just got off the plane at Tegel Airport in June. I was warned that time flies in this city. I’m also exceptionally good at not listening to things people warn me about.
The phrase “culture shock” has certainly taken on a new meaning for me. Prior to this endeavor, the longest I had really ever spent away from the U.S. was about six weeks. Otherwise I would be anchored in Seattle (or Boulder in my youth), and would get a brief opportunity doing what I love the most, which is traveling abroad. Now that I actually live and work here, and am not just in a constant state of flux, the culture shock I’m experiencing is coming from within. This is the life I’ve always dreamed of having, and now that it’s reality, aspects of my former life in the States seem distorted, and strange, hilarious, and at times unfamiliar.
While this experience by and large has been nothing short of amazing, occasionally there are glimpses of my life in the States that I miss emphatically, besides of course dearly missing my friends and family every day. Things like Mexican food (and readily being able to find ingredients – I’m looking at you, refried beans and corn tortillas), being able to watch music videos on YouTube without being blocked by GEMA, being able to overhear ridiculous conversations in public and being able to understand what people are saying — and most importantly, feeling completely comfortable in my ability to communicate. So much of my personal and professional life has actually revolved around visual, verbal, and artistic communication, and the one truly difficult thing about my new life is struggling with a language barrier every day. Sometimes I will crack a joke no one gets, or make a pop culture reference unfamiliar to a European audience, and it gets a tiny bit sad, but this kind of sad is more sentimental than it is depressing. The kind of sad when you see one of your friends’ bands play their last gig. Your thankful for the memories and know they are going on to do bigger and better things, but you just can’t help miss the days past.
I know these things will change over time, and that eventually my German skills will get up to snuff where I will be able to bullshit with the clerk at the späti while buying a beer, or not have to say “Es tut mir leid, mein Deutsch ist nicht sehr gut.” every day. Having to rebuild my life from scratch has been a frustrating, funny, weird, and strangely beautiful thing, and sometimes I feel like I’m 18 and just figuring out how to pay bills and do adult stuff all over again. What I do know is that I’m excited for what the next 180 days will bring.
[rh] 03.12.2015 – Berlin