Transitioning. A little odd. Somewhat frustrating. Often chaotic. Thrilling. At a point somewhere in between sorting through shoes in boxes and updating your new address wherever possible, it becomes apparent that something is different. It’s where I am right now.
From Munich to Berlin.
We’re just passed the two month mark in the city we now call home. Our third new home and new city in the past five years. For some that’s normal. For others, it’s two more cities than they’d ever experience in a lifetime. For me it’s enough to assume i’d have a well-oiled transition plan. Or perhaps a list of “lessons learnt” from the the last time we started fresh.
Feeling home in a new home isn’t that easy. The process is bound by the continuous back and forth between the feeling of excitement and an unsettling fear of what could come. You’ve left behind the familiar – the friends, the favorite corners of the city, the routines – for the foreign. New faces, new sounds, new streets.
And in my typical fashion – I’ve chosen this adventure at the same time as starting a new role. Just a little less unsettling than the time I decided to move to Germany with only 5 German words in my vocabulary.
I only stopped to actually think about this phase after all the boxes were unpacked, addresses updated and first (awkward) hellos with new neighbours exchanged.
Instead of recounting what has helped me in the past, I thought about what I have and will try to make me feel at home. Here’s the plan:
Connect with friends in the city
I’m grateful to have some friends in Berlin whom I met during past adventures, jobs and through family. Having the chance to reconnect with familiar faces and get the inside scoop on the city can only ease the move.
Visit somewhere I’ve been before
For the moments when I’m craving some familiarity. After a few trips to Berlin and some longer stints for work, I’ve discovered some spots I always enjoy returning to: the grandeur of Gendarmenmarkt; the sophisticated Savigny Platz; and the romantic Monbijou Park (the name says it all). And for the cold and grey days, I might just find myself dazed by the excess shoe collection at the KaDeWe.
Restart habits and routines
This area is definitely a work in progress. There are some habits I’ve managed to easily continue (e.g. the daily lunch power-walk), some I’m slightly adapting (e.g. the morning routine) – and some I’m still working on. While the feeling of not letting a change of scenery disrupt routine is quite empowering – I’ve noticed however that there are some dependencies – like discovering running routes or learning to sleep with the foreign sounds of the street.
Create new ones
This should be all about trying things out that make me happy. Yoga on Mondays? Why not! Saturday mornings scouting for produce at the farmers market? Hell yeah! Something I’m loving: regular catch up calls with my friends in Munich. Now if only Munich weren’t 580km away…
Being in a new city, this is the easiest of all. And Berlin has a lot to offer, at all hours of the day. While the weekend allows for a lot of time to head out in every direction, I like using my daily cycle home to detour off the direct route and discover new corners.
Some places that have left me gobsmacked so far: the view from Viktoriapark, the impressive boulevard on Frankfurter Allee in the Zuckerbäcker style classic to the socialist regime.
Find & join communities
With a big international community in Berlin, I couldn’t be more spoilt for choice. There may be a lot of things I’m interested in, but taking that first step always requires a stand-in-front-of-the-mirror kind of pep-talk. If there are any Aussies, free athletes, HR professionals or urban gardeners in Berlin reading this, hit me up!
Embrace the fear
Fear of the unknown. A common response to change. And yes, I’ve felt it. Not knowing what I’ll find around the corner. Not knowing how I will fit in. Not knowing if this is the place for me. And yes, there will be more of these moments to come. My strategy: put on my game face and step right in. Nothing beats fear more than embracing it head on.
Give myself time
For the moments I become impatient. A reminder to take it slow, that it’s all part of the journey and to enjoy each moment. Nothing more.
With this transition, I’ve already become a little smitten in the city*. Here’s what I’m loving so far:
- My daily cycle to and from work: observing how the vibe changes on the streets from morning to eve;
- The ridiculous selection of eateries (I’ve already collected some favourites)
- The private spaces around the city to escape for a moment of peace – eg Prinzesinnengarten
- Great (hipster) coffee
- The Berliner attitude: be who you want to be
Until next time! Tschüss! (It won’t be as long, I promise).
*This doesn’t mean I don’t miss Munich…