Sunday, 12 July 2015

First week in Berlin

So far Berlin life is great. But after six years living in a small city, it's amazing what an adjustment it is to be in a metropolis again.

I've made it through my first week in Berlin, mostly spending my time dealing with the practicalities of settling in. But now I've got my apartment all set up, my balcony full of flowers, and my phone full of a German sim card - I'm ready to go.

I've also been exploring my immediate neighbourhood - Sch├Âneberg. It's central but quiet, the heart of West Berlin with some of the fanciest shops. While things in East Berlin have changed dramatically over recent years and continue to change, this part of West Berlin has remained roughly the same since I started visiting this city in 2002. There's something rather comforting about that.

As I expected, though, I've mostly been going out in East Berlin. In a way I almost feel like I'm living in a leafy suburb to the west of a city centre. But I kind of like that feeling. I've been living in Brussels city centre for six years so something quiet and pretty is just what the doctor ordered. For now at least.

I love my new apartment. It has a nice-sized balcony overlooking a quiet courtyard, all modern amenities and, best of all, comes fully equipped with anything I could possibly need. It's fantastic as a 'starter apartment' - I was able to move in and get comfortable right away, without having to furnish it.

One thing that's been difficult to get used to is the immense distances between everything here. In Brussels I got pretty used to being able to walk to most things I needed to get to. Here's not so much. Some metro rides feel like they're taking so long I can't possibly still be in the same city.

I got a bike to get around, which has been helpful. But even these bike trips feel incredibly long! I suppose it's just something I'll get used to after awhile.

This week I'll be working on a project from home while I continue to get settled. I also need to choose a language school this week. I'm leaning toward one that is down the street from my apartment. Apparently, as an Italian citizen I'm eligible for free courses from the state. But these may be of dubious quality and could be far away from my apartment. And as I mentioned above, I don't like long distances!

If anyone has any recommendations for language courses, I'm all ears!

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