Surprise! I’m now living in Berlin.
To be honest, I’m probably about as surprised as anyone; I only made the decision to move here two weeks ago, as I sat, frustrated by Scandinavian visa regulations, in the somewhat feeble sun of a Stockholm summer day.
Stockholm is a gorgeous city, but you see, you cannot apply for a Swedish visa while in Sweden (except via the convoluted act of sending an application to Australia).
So, instead I decided to hitchhike to Berlin and, after waking at 4.30am yesterday to line up at the immigration office, I now have a shiny, new German Working Holiday Visa.
It’s a completely new city for me.
I’ve been told by countless people that I would “absolutely love” Berlin and despite the numerous recommendations, it was not until a week and a half ago, when I arrived in my new home, that I actually got a chance to make the judgement for myself.
At first, I wasn’t sure of what to make of it. It can often be grubby, grey and foreboding, even where not untouched by generations of lurid graffiti, many of its parks and inhabitants have an appearance best described as scruffy and thanks to Allied bombing efforts, it’s devoid of many of the old buildings which so often lend European cities their charm.
To be sure, it has its moments of grandeur (museum island) and nice neighbourhoods, but it’s not the prettiest of Europe’s grand cities.
But thanks to a little time and the guidance of a rapidly growing network of friends new and old, I have begun to warm to the character of the city: Pop culture and sub cultures, tourists and punks, the weight of history, people of every nationality and possible orientation thrown together resulting in the kind of surprise occurrences that can only happen in such an environment.
Anything is possible. And I rather like it.
On a side note, several friends have suggested with amusement that I have embraced a long-smothered desire of becoming an hipster, having moved to what is arguably one of the hipster capitals of the world.
I would counterargue that if I had, I should very well have attended the 2013 Hipster Cup last weekend – a tongue-in-cheek hipster Olympics involving such activities as a horn-rimmed glasses tossing competition and skinny jeans tug-of-war. My alibi? I was instead in Poland under very non-hipsterish circumstances.
As much as the last week and a half getting to know Berlin has been a blast (more to come on that soon), now is the really exciting part; finding a room, more writing work and beginning a new chapter in my new home base.