This time last year, I was sitting on a bus from Riga to Berlin, my worldly possessions safely stowed in the hold (I hoped), with around 16 hours stretching ahead of me to contemplate what exactly I was doing; moving to a city where I didn’t know a soul, with no job and no long-term accommodation lined up. All I had was about five words of German and a roof over my head for the next two weeks. Little did I know I’d end up sharing with a septuagenarian who would have a penchant for dry humping me while I cleaned his fridge.
Looking back, there were a lot of things I couldn’t have predicted. And while I’m not saying six flats, three jobs, leaving the Catholic Church, and endless rounds of bureaucracy were a walk in the park, they certainly made for an interesting year. In between all of this, of course, I did have some fun. I’ve been to museums, festivals, lakes, book launches, football matches, Christmas markets. I’ve been to Hamburg, Dresden, Leipzig, Potsdam, and Marzahn (shudder). I even managed to get my name on a plaque in Humboldthain Park.
I’ve done my best to unravel the mysteries of the German poo shelf. I’ve been sold on the idea of two single duvets on a double bed (that probably also has two single mattresses). I’ve battled with the German language and am now an
expert absolute beginner at business German thanks to “Die Höhle der Löwen”*. Or at least I can almost pronounce “Die Höhle der Löwen” – it’s something like “dee huhhluh der luhffen” if you want to give it a go. (Germans, feel free to laugh now.) I’ve tried – and failed miserably – to be a good German Hausfrau, but I do still rinse out my pasta sauce jars. The fact that I use pasta sauce from a jar explains a lot about my failure to be a good Hausfrau.
I’ve made some fantastic friends, and some colossal mistakes. Thankfully, the former helped get me through the latter. The thing about Berlin is that she’s a slippery little sucker. Every time one thing slips into place, something else slips away. For the past year, it’s all been a bit one step forward, two steps back. Or, sometimes, more like half a step forward, have your feet ripped from under you and end up flat on your arse. But I’ve realised that the trick is to keep getting up again, a bit like Arnold Schwarzenegger in Terminator. (The similarity would probably be more apparent if the Terminator liked a glass of wine and busting out Dusty Springfield tunes.) Aaaaanyway, the point is, one year on, I’m still here and I’m still standing.
Because this is my life, this is Berlin, and this is home. There’s always something amazing around the corner. And even if there isn’t, there’s only a few months to go ’til Glühwein season…
So, I hope you’ll all be sticking around, because I know I will be.
*The German version of Dragons’ Den/Shark Tank. The 50% I can understand is massively entertaining.