By: Katrin Ziegler
Wait, what? I am usually known for my *slightly* critical posts and negative opinion about Berlin (see for example here and here). But it seems like the day has come where I actually have to share some positive thoughts. Because, you know, Berlin is actually pretty amazing. But why?
There are only a few places in the world where you can find such a dense history. It’s actually amazing that after everything Berlin has been through, it’s still standing tall. Famines, wars, cold wars, hipsters – none of these things have been able to bring Berlin down. This chameleon of a city knows how to survive. Berlin is over mundane things – even the new Google campus won’t be able to change that. Believe me.
PENNY PINCHER GALORE
Let’s face it – even though rents have been rising and the coffee in Mitte is now over 3€ – compared to, well every other major European city actually, Berlin is still hella cheap. I know prices have been hard on people who have lived here for ages. Whenever my mom tells me how much she used to pay for her first apartment in Berlin, I am about to start crying too. But then I remember the rents in Munich, Hamburg, London and my 1.3k room (!) in San Francisco. And then I remember that back in the day, there was a wall! And we have to give inflation some credit as well. Be sure that in the future prices will keep rising and people will keep coming, but we’re still comparably lucky!
Apparently I am one of the last people to realize that Berlin is awesome. Internationally, Berlin gained a lot of attention years ago, transforming it into a popular place to move to. For everyone. Yeah, that might mean that I order my lunch in English. But it also means I have access to food from all over the world. I meet people from all over the world. And I make friends from all over the world. Am I afraid of losing my German identity? Absolutely not! Because just as I get an American breakfast at my friend’s place, I also invite them over for Weißwurst and Brezen. Did I say invite? Force. I meant force. All was well.
Berlin is pretty spread out but public transportation is also amazing. Buses, Trams, S-Bahns, U-Bahns and whatever- Bahns bring you everywhere you want to go. Sure there are the usual constructions and delays – don’t get me wrong, we love to complain about that! – but again, compared to other major cities our public transportation is actually great. We just have German standards where a two minute delay is already outrageous. And if you don’t feel like riding the train – the city also has great bike lanes and walking can be nice, too! 🙂 And even though our airports are damn ugly and embarrassing, they are at least super accessible and offer a great deal of cheap flights.
Berlin might not be a city for everyone, but then again it is. Whether you are into techno, jazz, the opera or don’t want to have anything to do with music – in Berlin you are able to find it all. Hipster, punk, rock, rap, homo, hetero, fancy, shady, male, female and everything in between – in Berlin you can be yourself. Enjoy dancing naked? Singing in public? Museum nerd? Come all, come fast and be yourself. In Berlin nobody gives a damn sh*t.
Most of the time I feel like Berlin isn’t really part of Germany, more it’s own little state with German influence. Yeah, that still means a sh*t load of paperwork when you have to go to the scary „Ausländerbehörde“ and natives might seem rude and stare at you. But it also means social security and certain things you can rely on. The police might stop you when you are riding your bike on the sidewalk cause, duh, you shan’t. You kinda hate it but maybe you find it in your heart to love it as well. Berlin is a quite international and chaotic city – German style.
So many parks, so many trees, so much nature. Even though big cities might give you the blues at some point, Berlin does a great job in offering natural retreats just in front of your doorstep. There are numerous parks spread across the city, the Spree and canals have great spots to hang out. Oh and an old airport in the middle of the city? Let’s make it a giant park for people to hang out in because, duh, why not.
Sure, fun is important but at some point you will have to work for your money. From big and well-known companies such as Zalando, Facebook, Sony or Universal, over to government institutions and NGOs to an army of tiny start-ups – in Berlin you can find a place to work that fits your needs.
Ok, Berlin. You got me. You are great and life here is actually pretty easy and amazing. Well, except for the winters. Your winters are a bitch.