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This week’s guest post for the ‘Day-to-Day’ series comes from Cheryl, a Canadian expat who’s currently working and living in Berlin. If you’re an expat and interested in sharing the day-to-day details of your city, shoot me a message at thepaperplanesblog @ gmail.com.
My day usually starts around 10:00 am when I make my way to work. As I’m not a morning person, the first part of my day is totally fuelled by coffee so I usually grab a flat white from a cute neighbourhood cafe before I get to the office. Around 12:30 p.m., I go out for lunch with my team. If the weather is nice, we head to the park and eat our food while enjoying the sunshine. Around 6:30 p.m., I leave work to go about my night ahead. Some nights, I do rather chilled out things like stay at home to work on my blog or cook a nice meal. Other nights, I do more exciting things like take in a film screening, eat out at a new restaurant or meet friends for drinks and chats.
I work as a scrum master for AVARI, a Berlin based start-up. As a person who’s only worked for large corporations, it’s been a joy to experience the startup world and work at a company that only has a handful of people. Everyone works really hard and has fun at the same time! It makes me look forward to coming into the office each day, something I’ve never really felt over the course of my career.
My daily routine in Berlin is way different than my life at home in Toronto. I used to spend two hours commuting to work one way – when I’m now at work within 10 minutes (including a stop for coffee)!
I now have so much more free time to pursue other interests outside of work. For example, I recently signed up for gym membership and I love the fact that I can actually make it to early evening classes and indulge in a good hard workout. I also love how bike friendly Berlin is – way different than Toronto where there are few bike lanes and riding a bike is actually somewhat dangerous. I’m planning to get a bike next month so I can really start to see the city in a different way. Most of my friends can’t believe that I don’t have a bike already!
I love learning about the German culture as well. I’m continually surprised and amused by the things that I find out such as that they have ‘forest kitas’ for children! A forest kita is a daycare for kids where they spend all day outside in nature, playing with sticks, rocks and whatnot. If I had a kid, I’d want to send them there. I also met a man who is quite proud of being a swordsman. Apparently, it’s a long held tradition here quite different than North American styled fencing, where doctors are on hand to attend to any injuries that come up during the matches. The man I met also attempted to impress me with the scar he has on his forehead. To be honest though, I’m not a big fan of German food in general as I find it too heavy. But, I really love their rye bread and of course, sausages. I eat out most days as it’s so affordable here and I live in a neighbourhood with plenty of restaurant options. However, I’d like to start cooking at home more as it’s so fun! I took a Culinary Arts course years ago so I guess that I should put my ‘education’ to use.
While I love it here, there are still major frustrations…like the language barrier. I need to better my German (an ongoing effort) to get through things like appointments with the foreigners office and to have conversations with my German friends. It’s also always hard to make friends when you move to a new place. I found friends by engaging people on social media, attending events and going to meet-ups. I also use to head to a local bar alone, where I made friends and even met someone who I dated for a while.
In general, life’s also just more exciting as there’s always something happening in Berlin! This week alone, I attended a food truck event and went to hear a photo journalist speak about his years photography conflicts around the world like the Bosnian war. I’ve taken up the habit of going to the sauna as I find it such a therapeutic and relaxing experience!