You can always say you’re having a tough time when you’ve moved somewhere new. I’ve read that many times in Guardian long-reads or in a start of a memoir. “Sandra found it difficult to adjust to her new home in Vienna.” That’s the sort of shit you read all the time right? However, it’s always in a retrospective, it usually leads to Sandra finding herself in the vibrant fruit market, or in arms of an exotic lover who showed her the wonders of the city she didn’t speak the mother tongue of.
You don’t read many articles that start with “I just moved somewhere and I knew it was going to be tough, challenging and lonely for a bit, but I know myself and I know I will stay indoors drinking wine all the time if left to my own devices.”
However, that’s just how this ramble is going to start because I just moved to Berlin and I have to fight my anxiety everytime I go out the door because I don’t like looking stupid. And that’s what I think of someone who lives in a country where they don’t know the language or is surprised by differences at the local shop. I seem to keep making myself look stupid by not even attempting to speak German even though I know some phrases that I need to get by. No matter how much I think ‘danke’ ‘bitte’ – I just go THANK YOU in the Queens.
Here are some observations in my first five days from the local REWE and BioCompany:
- Bread is weirdly packaged if you just want normal bread, not like a baked rye, it’s called butter toast or in the packing has an American flag.
- All booze is fucking obscenely cheap.
- Germans and Brazilians buy a lot of bottled water.
- There isn’t a wide selection of meat and poultry unless you want cured meat or German sausage in which case there’s fucking loads mate.
Fresh meat and produce generally is a bit more expensive than the UK, but in Berlin, it’s so cheap to eat out it makes sense why so many people just do that instead of cook at home. The amount of places I’ve walked past selling amazing looking food is crazy and people have got it in little bags, ready to take home for dinner instead of going to the shop.
I miss my cat.
The woman I’m renting the Air BnB from seems to be a little crazy, or perhaps crazy from my British sensibilities where she seems overly friendly, overly sharing and just overly everything. She came to the flat tonight to pick up some things she had forgotten and was horrified I wasn’t going out on a Friday night – she even went as far to invite me to go out with her and her friends. My British response to this was annoyance. Why are you being so inviting, why are you still here, please go and leave me to my bolognese and my 3 euro bottle of wine that I have bought and finished four nights in a row.
It’s slowly dawning on me that perhaps like London when I lived there, I loved the ‘idea’ of it. You know like Japanese tourists who go to Paris and freak out because Paris is actually a bit of a shithole. I’m not cool at all, I also don’t Instagram enough, I should be going to markets and cute bookstores and taking photos and shoving all happiness into the likes I get. People tell me the art here is great, cool any specific galleries? No, just all of it? Fuck, that’s a lot of pressure to get it right.
I also keep not speaking German out of fear that they’ll know, I mean, they know anyway.
I’m just having trouble functioning as a human being as well. I couldn’t find pans when I first got here, so assumed frying things wasn’t a German thing, they don’t really have bacon so I was like ‘okay then boiled eggs it is’. So now I have 12 boiled eggs in the fridge, I’m not a fucking bodybuilder, I have no need for 12 boiled eggs. I came back from a gig at a punk venue five minutes down the road and ate an egg drunkingly, confused at why I couldn’t just email the woman asking if she had a frying pan.
I found the frying pan and a few other pans. They were in the oven.
Food seems to be my main issue, I’m a picky eater in the sense that I eat food like a 18th century french nobleman. I like shellfish, cured meats, good cuts of meat and vegetables on occasion but they aren’t a main staple to my diet. Last time I was in Berlin I used a Google Translate camera app that let’s you translate things through your camera. As I was having anxiety about which tomato sauce to buy in an ailse fucking dedicated to it, I held it up to one and it flickered between thinking a German word said either ‘Humiliation’ or ‘Strangler’ – so a good omen.
I bought the one that said bolognese and it was delicious.
I’ll probably be better next week, but this was just random sporadic thoughts I needed to get out. Mum if you’re reading this, I’m fine, I’ll skype you tomorrow.