Sunday, August 21, 2011
Three months before my plane would touch down in Berlin, Germany, I posted a photograph of the graffiti pictured above on my tumblr. Beneath the photo I wrote, "See you in three months Berlin". At this time, I was wide-eyed and eager. Never had I been to Germany, and only once before had I been to Europe. I had no idea what to expect of Berlin, of the people there, or of myself. To me, that photograph of the graffiti represent a historically rich city reclaiming it's history. The people who lived there, I thought, must be vibrant and fascinating thinkers who had showed the world how they felt about communism and capitalism, and would in turn be eager to share with me. While my arriving didn't prove otherwise, it did implicate me at an interesting crossroads.
Berlin, as I came to discover, was full of vibrant and interesting thinkers. But being in such a new I felt out of place. I stuck out, for the way I dressed, how I talked, and my general presence when standing on a street corner. It was nothing I could help, but also not something I had considered before coming to Berlin. I have lived in Washington since I was five, and have grown up with the same kids since the 1st grade. Never had I ever truly felt out of place. Even when coming to college, I knew people, I had a space. In Berlin, it was quite the opposite. Pre-departure I had dreamed of arriving and making fast friends with Germans who would share their ideas and show me places, in actuality, I spent the first few weeks in my apartment with my roommate, or with the other kids in my program. I existed very much inside my own bubble. This bubble however allowed me to reflect on both what I was doing in Berlin and what I was doing in life.
Berlin, while still exciting, ultimately became a space to disorient me and force contemplation. On the outside it looked like a vibrant city, and while that was still true, it was so much richer for my personal experience.