I’m writing this at my desk, staring at storm clouds and rain dripping down the window pane, with my portable heater on maximum. This serves me right for being smug about Berlin’s lack of winter and the glorious sunshine we’ve had the past few weeks. I also suspect it’s because I bought a bike last week and the powers that be don’t want to release me onto the cycle paths and roads of Berlin as I am bound to be a public menace. To be fair, on my first day of riding the bike, I fell off four times resulting in a severely bruised ego and moderately bruised knees. I feel this has something to do with the fact it’s a men’s bike and as such the saddle is a bit high for little old me, meaning riding the bike provides a Penny Farthing style experience. Many old German men have stopped to laugh at me as I peddle furiously past them on the street. Maybe the rain is a blessing in disguise.
Me, on a bike, unusually vertical.
In other news, two of my friends from back home came to visit, making March already one of the best months I’ve had in Berlin. During their stay we managed to cram in a lot of sightseeing which for me combines exploring Berlin’s cultural history with pointing out every place I’ve ever been to eat. Food was a major part of their trip, but that’s never a bad thing. We wandered aimlessly around Tiergarten, took a tour up the Reichstag (German’s very impressive parliamentary building) and in more exciting news, ate a pizza that was a meter across, had religious experiences over superb pasta, and I surprised myself with how much I actually know about the city.
I also got to use my rubbish German quite a lot. The rule of thumb in Berlin tends to be as long as you made an effort, it’s okay. Whilst most people in the city do speak English and will switch to speaking it the second they clock the look of fear on your panicky foreigner face, there actually are marks for trying. Germans are far friendlier when you at least attempt to convey your message in garbled Deutsch rather than giving in straight away and reverting to English.
Me, casually ruining a photo of the Reichstag
With less than a week to go until April there is also not much time left before the summer semester starts. After writing a 7500 word essay for one of my classes I am in no mood to complete the other three I still have to write, and find myself missing the Brotherton and Eddy B, which for all their faults are so, so much less confusing than the libraries at university here. You have to lock your bag and coat away before you enter, a lot of the books can’t be checked out, and any sort of database where you can search for what you need appears to be a completely alien concept. Thank God for JStor.
And finally- because I revel in making my life needlessly complicated- I’ve started an internship here in Berlin to do alongside studying. It combines my love of film and writing about film with the glamour of unpaid work and being thrown headfirst into the German hipster scene, so I’m a happy, if not overworked and stressed, bunny. It is however nice to be back in some semblance of a routine and be filling my days with more productive tasks than watching Eastbound & Down obsessively or binge eating Haribo Smurfs. I don’t think either of those count as transferrable skills.