Guten Tag! After 2 weeks, I am starting to feel like a resident of Berlin, even if I do only have 6 weeks left. This city is so intricate and expansive, so it can be hard to find your way around each of the neighborhoods. For the summer, I am living in Charlottenberg, west of city center. I live in a hotel/apartment building with the other 7 students in the program, which was set up through our program manager and Intrax, the study abroad company that organized part of our trip. I am so grateful that I did not have to find housing for myself, because finding an apartment here would have been a very stressful experience, especially since I don’t speak German. Though I have my own room, all of us students live on the same floor so we are close. The building is very nice, and I have found myself spending a lot of time outside on the back porch (I am currently writing this post there). Each apartment also has a kitchenette, which makes saving money on eating food out every day so much easier.
German housing is different from American housing in many ways, but the most sudden difference that confused me was the numbering of floors. Here, the first floor is actually the second floor, because they start with floor 0. This can be difficult if you’re coming home after a long day and go to your room on the wrong floor. Something else that is different in this apartment that aligns with Germany’s sustainability focus is how the power works. Here, you have to put your key card in a slot by the door in order to turn power on for the apartment. I have noticed that this really cuts down on electricity use caused by forgetfulness, so I really enjoy this difference and its environmental impact.
One thing to hate or love about my housing is its location. On one hand, I am only a 20-minute bus ride away from my internship, which is a very quick and easy commute compared to average commute times in the city. On the other hand, I am not in the best location for exploring the city. We live in a more touristy and upscale neighborhood, so any dinners or evening hangouts are usually at least a 45-minute trip on the U-Bahn or S-Bahn. This is because I am trying to focus on exploring up-and-coming areas that are more popular with younger Berliners, which tend to be far away from Charlottenberg. Luckily, most museums and tourist attractions are a quick trip so I can easily experience the important historical sights of Berlin. I am excited to continue experiencing the city as a short-term resident, and I hope you enjoy these updates!