Before you ask, that’s not a picture of me. I haven’t dressed as smartly as that since 2011 when I was obliged to for work. That’s a picture of a nice lady waiting for an S-Bahn train. Or creepily watching one depart.
The ‘S’ in S-Bahn stands for ‘stanky’. Sometimes kids use it as slang. ‘Dude, those are some Stanky-Bahn Pokemons you caught!’
You’ll notice I’m talking about the S-Bahn with some authority. That’s because I live here now. And in case you’re wondering, as far as I’ve worked out the ‘U’ in U-Bahn stands for ‘Ughhhh’, but I gathered most of my data on a Sunday morning so that one’s up for debate.
It’s been a ride so far. I’ve only cried from feelings once since coming here. Most of the other times were from watching Season 4 of Orange is the New Black.
Since I’m still very new here in The Big Toke, I’ll attempt to distill my arrival and set-up into a trendy format known as a listicle.
My Top 3 ‘I’m Totally New Here!’ Experiences
#1 Let Me Fucking Live in your House
Getting established in Berlin is a lot like playing a game of Blind Man’s Buff, except the room is an indoor soccer stadium, the runaway opponents are mice, and you’re drunk.
In order to start work you must be registered, in order to get registered you need to be listed at an address, in order to get an address it’s desirable that you work. It’s an ouroboros of requirements that had me alternately running across the city looking at apartments and taking stress naps while I waited for the rejection emails to pile up.
Eventually, fortune smiled on me and I found a place in Wedding, which to many Berliners is the equivalent of saying you’ve moved to a bin on the moon. I like it though. It’s got trams and I get to live with a cat called Carlos.
#2 Party Fears is Go!
In the world’s most irresponsible trust fall, former BaekMa drummer person, Eilis joined me in the Berlin Party Fears adventure.
While I ran around the city smiling like a maniac at potential landlords, Eilis got to work on finding us a practice room, advertising for a bassist and setting up our first show.
We were lucky enough to find Juan who is a young person with very white running shoes and big hair. He’s from Uruguay and did a beautifully executed backwards tumble down a grassy hill when a homeless person asked him for his beer bottle. His answer to our bassist ad went something like, ‘Hi! I don’t have a bass but I love all these bands! 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 :)’, and he proceeded to list what were by our estimation all the best bands ever.
He came for a jam and we invited him to join us that same day. We subsequently terminated our place at that very jam room near Treptower Park because I asked the sweary, stone-washed jeans wearing, adult male manager to speak politely which caused him to go into meltdown and he exploded.*
We played our first show to a lovely cache of people who were kind enough to start a friendly mosh pit at the front. I pretended I was in The Wildhearts and tried not to shit myself at the responsibility of having so many young people’s skulls travel at high speed towards one another. The bathroom was totally S-Bahn but that was okay because they let us use their amps and they were very, very friendly.
We have since bought our own amps which we will use as soon as we manage to force our way through the scene’s gluey membrane and book another show.
#3 Meeting People is Easy
It is very not. There are a few factors at play, the biggest being that for the first time in my nomadic life, I’ve moved to a totally unfamiliar city without a job already in place. Since I don’t have enforced hangout time via work, I have to wait for fate or my own ingenuity (lol) to smash myself into the temporal lobes of strangers. If I could print out friend CVs and shove them into people’s faces screaming, ‘Like me!’ I would.
Also, the city has a lot to live up to. I loved my community in Seoul. I loved it. I experienced more growth and self-discovery in Seoul than in any other environment. When I left I felt like a tooth that had been wrenched out of a perfectly healthy mouth.
So coming to Berlin where I start and finish most social interactions with ‘Uh…’ is jarring. And hard. Throw a trip to previous home-city Glasgow into the mix and Berlin seems positively tight-fisted.
Also, I am quietly terrified of meeting new people. Which surprises a lot of my friends, but shouldn’t. Here’s a picture of me at a party.
So Berlin, it’s not your fault, but beGod if I don’t want to blame you.
Despite the travails of getting set up I genuinely like Berlin. It’s charming and relaxed and, unsurprisingly, very cool. I like the people I’ve met here. There’s definitely a sense of the missionary about the city; about people having upped sticks to do more of what they love or be more of who they are.
It’s hard to remember at times why I made the move, but then Party Fears practice and my little world makes sense again. Also, I’m eating seven kebabs a week on average. And that’s got to count for something, doesn’t it?
There’s also Carlos the Cat. Who will love me despite literally all of his actions suggesting otherwise.
So yes, I’m optimistic. And as soon as I get a job I’ll be reasonably miserable again like most people, instead of occasionally rolling around on the floor full of kebab-fuelled ennui.