After 3 weeks in Berlin, I still find myself constantly reprocessing where I am. Even though I have settled into the city and my daily routine, it still seems so insane that I get to spend my summer in a place as great as Berlin. Looking back at the time I have spent here so far, my first main takeaway is that it is easy to settle into a new city without realizing it. I was so nervous that I wouldn’t be able to adjust and I would constantly feel like a tourist, but that hasn’t been the case. After the first week, I was able to fall into a rhythm and I am actually proud of myself for feeling like I belong in Berlin. I may not be a real Berliner, but I don’t fully feel like a tourist anymore.
Part of settling in is having that first realization moment, which I think hit me on my commute home during my second week here. I was looking out the window of the bus after working a day at my internship, and it just hit me that I was on my way back to my “home” in Berlin. It just felt so crazy that I could call an apartment/hotel room in Charlottenburg my home for the summer, which is also when I stopped feeling like an annoying tourist. Yes, the presence of an American who does not speak German is still annoying to locals, but I learned the main cultural dos and don’ts to where I am not a nuisance on the streets of Berlin.
Another key takeaway from this experience so far has been the cultural differences. I experienced my first bit of culture shock when I learned about the public transportation system here. In Germany, transportation such as buses and trains are based on an honor system, meaning you do not have to scan a ticket or enter money in order to use public transportation. This was so shocking to me as an American, because next to nothing in the United States is based on an honor system. When hearing this, we joked about how quickly this would fail in America, because no one would follow the rules. Another big culture shock was the behavior of dogs here. Most dogs that I have seen in Berlin are unleashed, but are the most well-behaved pets I have ever seen. They go into public transportation, restaurants, and stores without leashes and still behave perfectly. I feel like there are many leash laws in the US that prevents this, and if there weren’t then the unleashed dogs would be much crazier than here.
Overall, I have learned a lot during my time in Berlin, and I hope to continue learning throughout the next 5 weeks. I will continue to post blogs, and I hope that you continue to read them!