Mitch, second year, studying English Literature at Freie Universitaet Berlin
So. It’s definitely been a while. Like, a really, really decent while. Everything’s been quiet on the blog front while everything’s been hectic and busy on the ‘year abroad life’ front. I’ll start not by making excuses, but making a plan: this blog will be a general (hopefully interesting) ramble on things that have gone on for me recently on this period of time abroad – because it really is amazing in its own unique way. Then, there’ll be two blogs on all the fun things/hard things that have happened, all the stuff I’ve enjoyed (or not) and why/what I gained from these experiences, which I think is a pretty interesting topic, no?
Then, I think it’s down to more academic/uni-related stuff in two other blogs, possibly one for each semester I’ve been here (with one finished, and one still ongoing). Plus maybe a blog on looking for internships and things in second year, going through interviews etc, as that’s been a (fortunately successful!) aim of mine in organising this coming summer. I have so much to say on these topics because they were a real learning curve for me (almost as much as the weather in Berlin but requiring a lot less coats). So many blogs, so little time!
One thing that stands out for me immediately, as being now an official, certified, signed-up Berliner of nine months and counting is that, to be honest, Berlin is a very strange and wonderful beast. I said this in my first blog and I’ll say it again because it’s just as true now as it was then. I’ve been here for almost a year and I still can’t quite wrap my head around all the brilliant and odd things that happen, such as relatively chilled bars on the tops of shopping malls which you have to walk through car parks to get to (lots of these around). Or maybe impromptu dance/music ensemble performances including karaoke in the middle of the day in Gorlitzer Park. Or screening of artsy Tilda Swinton films in artsy art-house ‘cinemas’ with one screen attracting artsy types and leading to so much eccentric artsy-ness in one room that it kinda makes my head spin (in a good way). And, a ticket for these films costs something like €4. Like, really, come on now, UK. You’re not fooling anyone with your ridiculously overpriced €13 tickets for the latest Marvel movie clone. Add to this, hilariously frank adverts on sexual health and wellbeing dotted around the city, proud as punch, and the city really does have something for everyone. But you do have to accept that it will involve cheesy, off-the-cuff, highly repetitive puns, because, y’know, I think Berliners (Germans?) are massively into these.
I also feel like, on a related note, random, interesting cultural stuff here is a lot more accessible than in the UK, where, for example, going to the theatre is more of a formal, occasional thing that is fairly pricey and gives a fairly exclusive feel most of the time, probably to its detriment. Here, performance is everywhere. Theatres have an amazingly cheap student price most of the time (€9 for a pretty good seat) and this oddity extends much further than in the UK too. Myself and a friend went to see this amazing, brilliant, other-over-the-top-adjectives performance of Twelfth Night, reimagined, in German with English supertitles (more on this in another blog). It was particularly good as my friend Beth who was with me is much more of a Shakespeare buff than I am (more into Modernism myself) so she could walk me through parts of it if I was a bit lost. I love a good reimagining of a Shakespeare play though (see: Leo DiCaprio or Private Romeo), so this was a fab night to say the least, including practicing my German (maybe this will be another blog post too as there’s also a lot for me to say about this!).
On the whole, then, things have been great. Hectic, different, at times a teeny bit difficult, but great all in all. And the good thing is, that because of all these different experiences and all the feels I’ve had for this city, I’ve got about a thousand other things that I want to cover in my next blog.