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Ben Leander Willgruber, MSc.
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5 Unexpected Things I’ve Learned in Berlin

I have spent a good chunk of the summer in Berlin. Before I think of going back I wanna do a quick recap and reflect on a couple of things I have learned about the city. 

Just because it’s in the same district doesn’t mean it’s close

I had to learn this the hard way: Even though two points you wanna visit are in the same district that doesn’t mean they are nearby. No, it is probably not a good idea to try to walk through all of Neukölln on foot. The district I am living in alone has more inhabitants than my hometown.

The districts in themselves are also extremely diverse. I always considered Mitte the boring district with tourist attractions and fancy bars. But if you actually look at how large Mitte is, you realize that it covers a lot of interesting areas, like the Jannowitzbrücke where the legendary KitKat Club was located – so not at all boring!

The bugs here are insane

I really didn’t expect to be freaked out by the insects of Berlin. I am not scared of any particular bug or spider – as long as I know them. In Berlin summer, however, I saw some freaky insects I have never seen in my life. Unfortunately, I do not have any pictures or know how they were called but one night I found something that can only be described as a stag beetle with the trunk of an elephant. Also, when you’re wondering if it’s a bee or a wasp – it’s always a wasp.

Having a ‘plan’ is strictly optional

I am an overthinker and a planner. At the start of the week I already think about what I am going to do the next days – in work as in my spare time. Many people from Berlin, however, don’t seem to like to commit to plans. Or have plans at all. And I get it, going with the flow and seeing where live takes you is super nice and chill. Nonetheless, I have yet to find out how to meet with the kind of people who spend their time without planning anything.

It takes 30 minutes to get anywhere

When you wanna take the public transport in Berlin it is very likely that you’ll need just about 30 minutes to get from any place in the city to another spot. When the time is over 45 minutes that means that where you wanna go is damn far away from you. When I first moved here I was extremely annoyed at the long commuting times. Now I try to see these times as a part of self-care where I try not to think about anything. I even found a meditation podcast I really enjoyed and started listening in the trains (‘Moment Mal’). 

Trams only drive through Eastern Berlin

When I was looking at the maps of the tram system I got very confused as they only seemed to cover a certain part of Berlin. A passenger next to me noticed my confusion and enlightened me that trams only drive through Eastern Berlin. When the city was divided, Eastern Berlin built a tram system, the West didn’t. When the wall fell, they melted their existing systems together – but never added a tram system in the West! Didn’t expect to get actual knowledge from this post, did ya?

All in all, I love this city with all of its kinks and quirks. I am gonna miss it deeply when I am back home but I do also miss my friends and family from home now. By the way, last time I was here I made of a list of Pros and Cons on living in Berlin – have a look at that if you’re interested in more info about the city.

 

Ben Leander

Compulsive nonconformist who left the 9-to-5 world after studying psychology and has since then devoted himself to design and writing on a freelance basis. Has at least four different kinds of chips at home at any given time.

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