Above: The Road to Kharkhorin
Taken while traveling in Mongolia. October 2010.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

The Beginning of the End: My Third and Last Semester Abroad

(Written on 24 October)

For the past six weeks, Berlin has been my home. “Chaotic” seems to be the only word fit to describe my first days here. Come to think of it, the last few days in France leading up to my departure were also chaotic. I left Clermont-Ferrand with my backpack, French horn, 21-kilo suitcase with a last-minute carpool to Lyon, from where I would fly to Berlin with a cheap flight company. When my plane departed, I had still not found apartment in Berlin, and I didn’t even know where I would sleep that night.

After a sleepless night in Lyon’s Saint-Exupéry airport I arrived in Berlin at 9 am on September 11th. My plan, which I had forged at 3 am the previous night as I sleepily waited for my departure, was to stay in a hostel until I had found a host on Couchsurfing. After two nights in a hostel in Neukölln I spent a week and a half at various couchsurfers’ homes while I looked for my own apartment. Through these various people I slowly got to know this wonderful city, its inhabitants, culture, life.

I've noticed that, compared to Russia, everything here works. Not only works, but works very well. The professors at the university are organized. The subway, stadt-bahns, and trains are almost always on time. The orchestra conductors can actually teach and conduct and don’t just yell at the musicians when they do something wrong, and the list goes on. Since I arrived, I’ve asked myself several times why other countries aren’t more like Germany. Since the beginning of my time in Berlin I’ve had almost nothing to complain about. My only complaint was that it was so difficult to find a shared apartment. But that’s also no surprise, because it seems everyone wants to move to Berlin.

Although I’ve been here six weeks already, I'm still not really used to living here, even though I've learned a lot and have met many people. Maybe I'll feel that way the whole semester, or maybe I’m getting used to life here every day without knowing it. Mal schauen…

Felix, Fritz and I on a big-ass bench in Kreuzberg

Festival of Lights

TV Tower at Twilight