Berlin is a massive, diverse, leafy, lake-filled city. Built for 5 million inhabitants with a current population slightly under 3.5 million, Berlin is spacious and airy, feeling less like a city and more like a conglomeration of squares.
A month has hardly been enough time to explore all that Berlin has to offer. For the first two weeks, everyone wanted to do everything, all the time. Expansive parks, riverfront walks, organized tours, famous attractions, and beach bars filled up our afternoons after class. Evenings were reserved for cheap dinners out and a few beers, before staying at one of Kruezbergs clubs until 5am, chowing down on a revolting kebab, then waking up at 8 and doing it all again.
This sort of lifestyle can’t be lived forever. Now that the program with CityTravelReview is nearly over, we’ve started to settle down – and settle in.
Unfortunately, just as we are relaxing, so is our work load. It’s nearly time to leave. I wish I had taken a couple weeks to explore Berlin on my own time before the internship started. Though I am proud to be doing something productive instead of backpacking aimlessly, I miss the freedom that comes with travelling solo.
Having more time in this city has made me feel like I have less. There are still so many things Lonely Planet screams at me to do, and though I’ve been relentlessly busy, I feel like I haven’t done any.
But what I have done is even better than touring – I’ve been living. I’ve busked on the streets with Berliners, snuck into abandoned buildings, and watched the German World Cup games in a crowd of mental fans. I can navigate the public transport system with my eyes closed, rattle off my postal code, and order a meal in German. I’ve spent three weeks discovering this city as a resident, rather than as a temporary visitor. I’ve received mail. I’ve learned to operate a washing machine. I’ve grown accustomed to taking an hour to get anywhere and staying out past sunrise. I’ve never once held a Berlin city map – and I don’t intend to.