I have officially lived in Berlin for a week, so now that the jetlag has worn off, I’m awake enough to write my next post. Before boarding the plane a week ago, I had so many worries running through my head. What if my luggage is lost? What if I can’t navigate the public transportation, and I board a bus going in the completely wrong direction? What if I don’t get along with my host mom? What if I hate Berlin?
When my plane landed in Berlin, I realized I was really on my own for the first time in my life. I am very social by nature, and I feel my most energized when I’m in a big group of people. I’ve traveled internationally before with a group from school and with friends, but never all by myself. I thought being alone in a new country would be scary, but my newfound independence felt liberating. Armed with handwritten directions, I picked up my 40 lb. suitcase (which was not lost), and started looking for the bus I needed to take. I found my bus, bought a ticket and hopped on board. The bus eventually reached my stop, which confirmed I was not going in the opposite direction.
Once I arrived at the IES Abroad Berlin Center, I was introduced to my host mom. I instantly liked her, and as we walked to the train station, she asked me questions about my flight and my family at home. We boarded the train, and as I looked out the windows, I really took in my new city for the first time. I saw sprawling apartment buildings and vibrant graffiti scrawled on every blank surface along the train tracks. The train passed over bustling highways and serene parks. Signs for shopping centers and museums illuminated the night as the sun set. I realized four months would not be enough time to explore the neighborhoods on the train route, let alone all the other areas of the city. I instantly loved Berlin, and I couldn’t wait to get off the train and start exploring my new home.
Getting to Berlin made me realize that none of my fears came true. The biggest lesson I’ve taken away from traveling and my first week here is that the little problems I was nervous of aren’t problems at all. At the most, they are minor inconviences that can be easily solved by looking up directions. I’m too busy going to museums and eating döner (aka the best street food ever) to worry about the little stuff. My personal goal for studying abroad is to get comfortable doing things on my own, and I am already starting to feel comfortable being by myself. I do miss my big group of friends, but I'm realizing going places on my own means I have complete control over my time, and I am open to meeting new people. I’ve accidently gotten off at the wrong train stops a few times this week, and instead of freaking out, I laugh it off and hop on the next train. The best thing about traveling alone is that if you make mistake, there is no one around to notice. Getting lost is part of moving to a new city — especially one with signs that are in a different language.