September: I HAVE A CRUSH ON YOU!
There I was... in the middle of the former East Berlin. I had already seen some old postcards of Berlin and lucky me, my new ‘home’ appeared to be exactly as in these pictures! Also my new neighbours must have been around at the time these photographs were made; average age: 70 and older. Let the Erasmus experience begin!
I had chosen to live in ‘the centre’, which means that it took me about an hour to get at university, since the ‘Freie Universität Berlin’ is situated in the South of Berlin. Six weeks I followed an extra German course and this is where I met most of my friends. After our courses in the morning, we went swimming in the Wannsee, visited Museums or chilled in one of the many parks. In the evening, there were of course the beer gardens, bars and some of the most famous techno, minimal- and electro clubs in the world.
- There is more smoke hanging over the parks, than over the motorways. Whenever the weather is nice, there are hundreds of people grilling. It feels like one big family, where everybody brings something to share with the others.
- FKK and naturalism: there is a kind of naked culture at almost all the beaches and parks in Berlin. Families come to picnic naked, friends have a beer together and women just want to get rid of those last white spots…
- It’s all about vintage and the ‘hipster’ style in berlin. In some shops, you can even buy clothes per kilo!
- We spotted a grandpa sniffing drugs and met several friends of our grandparents with pink or green hair dancing on electro music or singing karaoke in Mauerpark.
October – December: FLIRTING AROUND…
My flatmates arrived and it couldn’t have been better! I immediately assured them, we were not just living in an old DDR-building, but we found ourselves in the ‘coolest’ area, since ‘Ostalgie’ seemed to be very popular. Together we went to festivals, concerts, other cities and countries … and to university. I followed an English course about first language acquisition, a Dutch course about German and Dutch literature after the second world war (with Mr Lensen) and last but not least, my favourite course: media in and about Berlin. Not only did this course give me the opportunity to visit different newspaper editors (TAZ, Junge Welt, Berliner Zeitung, …), I also stayed up to date with what was happening in and around Berlin. This made me realise that I was at the heart of everything: art, fashion, economics, politics and crime. We interviewed people from the Occupy-movement, a former prisoner from the Hohenschönhausen Stasi-prison and the man behind East Side Gallery, Kani Alavi.
January: THIS IS LOVE!
Berlin is one of these cities you just have to live in to get a glimpse of what it is like. When I first visited the city, I immediately liked it because of its architecture, museums, parks, restaurants and clubs but I only started to love it after learning more about its history, culture and people. According to me Berlin is not ‘Poor, but sexy’, like the governing Mayor said in 2004, but rather ‘Sexy because it’s poor!’ Without idealising ‘the poor artist’, Berlin is still a place where there is some room for free thinking and dreaming, where you can be who you want to be and where rules are made to be broken. The fun of doing something was often just as big as the frustration of missing another. You still need to ask me what made me love this city?