February 25, 2015

Berlin - 4 months in

On Saturday we'd have been in Berlin for four months. London is starting to look like a lifetime ago, and I can't believe it's been only four months, and already four months. We have an apartment (with a garden no less) in the middle of the city, both kids are in school (well Yon had to go back to pre-school as they start school here at age 6 and not 5 like in the UK) and some days the sun is actually shining.
It was not an easy start, and looking back at it all now, I have no idea why I expected it to go differently. Moving to a new country is never easy, but something about moving to a country where you can't even claim to have basic knowledge of the language, right at the beginning of winter, with a husband who has a new job, and without knowing anyone, should have tipped me off that we are off to a rocky beginning. Well, it didn't, and no one was more surprised than me when things did not immediately fall into place. Things did fall though, straight on top of my head, and in the first two months here in Berlin nothing seemed to work.
More than that it seemed nothing will ever work properly again.
And I was too embarrassed about it to write. I had this picture in my mind of how things in Berlin are supposed to work, of how easy it is to move from one place in Europe to the next, of how much simpler it will be because we are actually citizens here, unlike in the UK where the Home Office likes to make you jump through enough hoops to make you into an Olympian athlete in bureaucracy (should most definitely be an Olympian sport).
I was wrong. So wrong.
Or maybe it's that I simply forgot how hard it is to build everything from scratch, how frustrating it is to not know anything, and how difficult it is to change everything. I guess it doesn't come as a surprise to anyone that Berlin is as different from London as it gets. It is part of why we wanted to move here - the adventure, the difference, the quiet. It's just that  there are hidden differences, the ones no one talks about, and those are the the ones that catch you by surprise. Those are the ones that makes you sit down holding your head in your hands and wonder quietly - How am I ever going to feel good here?
What people think when they hear about our country-hopping lifestyle is either "wow, you are so brave" or "wow, you are so stupid". I don't particularly think we are brave, but I didn't really like the whole "stupid" thing to be true, and yet that is exactly what it felt like in the last few months. Even now I am straggling with the words and the phrases. What might you think of me if I tell you how many tears I spilled, or how many hours of doubt I had, or how I haven't slept a full night in I don't know how long?
That is not what you are supposed to write about when you move to a new place. You are supposed to be all shiny and new, going on city-adventures, looking all rosy and positive. No one wants to hear or read about how hard it is to move to yet another "really cool" place.
After all, people have real problems.
And whining is really not a very attractive quality.
So I didn't write.
And things did not become any easier.
It just made me feel invisible, and not in the good way (there is a good way).
Baby steps. Chocolate (and pastries, and cakes - the food here is great) and a lot of "just breathe" moments. That is how I managed to survive. And here we are, four months later. Most of winter is behind us. Hidai got me (and him, and the kids) a long weekend in Copenhagen. No one has been sick for the past week. My To-Do List is just one page long (a massive accomplishment as I can now count on just one hand the number of things that are yet to be dealt with, as opposed to the 3 pages long list I had a month ago).
There might be a rainbow at the end of this tunnel after all.
So here I am, writing.
I am just not really sure what I am writing about.


  1. Woo hoo! Sounds like you are turning a corner.Glad to see you writing again. Doubt that anyone thought it would be easy for you, although we'd have wished it of course. Easy European city breaks are something for us to be jealous about :) Hope the boys are doing OK. Watch out for that food - I put on a couple of stone when I lived in Germany...! x

  2. Oh Orli! I think more people should be honest about how hard it is to move to a new place. I remember in the Falklands I would watch the new arrivals, waiting ready to comfort them when it all got overwhelming. I'd gone through so much struggle my first few months there (and later too) and it made all the difference in the world to know others had gone through the same feelings and difficulties - and there everything was done for us (in theory). Trying to pretend everything is great and glorious is soul destroying. However, I'm glad that the cakes are great and you are starting to find your feet - give yourself a bit more time! Hugs!

  3. Oh Orli, I can so empathise with your space xx I remember when we moved to Brittany, France and the overwhelming feelings of learning a new language, culture, the bureaucracy and then after 3 months I fell pregnant ! Eeek ! That was one way to learn a language and settle in - LOL ! Keep breathing and know that you are never alone. Reach out to that friendly face. I remember connecting with a local lady with a little one and she helped me so much. She is a very special friend even now. Keep going. That "to do" list will be a few lines by summer. Big hugs lovely xx


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