The following is a humorous
text about the tragicomic experiences I had while looking for a room in Berlin. If you’re room-hunting and were expecting to find tips and resources, you might wanna check out this Facebook Group
, where people publish new room offers every day
Let’s say it out loud: finding a room in Berlin is a bitch, especially if you’re a foreigner and your german is Scheisse. If you obsessively refresh WG-gesucht‘s home page every fifteen seconds and you’re haunted by words like Genossenschaftsanteil o Parkmöglichkeiten, then you know what I’m talking about.
I wrote three case studies to report my nightmarish experience, in the hope i can be useful or at least take some drama off the whole looking-for-a-room-process.
1) Horror Vacui
Vera and Katia welcome me in their huge, cool, ultra-furnished flat in Adalbertstrasse with a (stereo)typical cold german kindness. After some small talk in the kitchen along with the most typical interview-food (peanuts and gummy bears, never a surprise) we move to the room that could become mine. Once they open the door a mix of fear and disgust shows up in my face. Not only the room is smaller than Guantanamo cells and completely unfurnished, but the white walls are decorated with random schizophrenic stripes of color. It looks like one of the paintings from Ruby the elephant, from her post-modern period. The two hostesses turn to me asking for a first impression, and my mind goes completely blank. I stay silent like i did when the Analysis professor asked me to multiply matrixes (who am i? Jesus?). I stay silent, and I blow the interview.
The first golden rule when you’re looking for a room, therefore, is always being prepared to give a positive feedback about said room, no matter how terrible the first impression is. Of course this requires time, but with some practice you’ll learn how to hold on to the most insignificant details and still look convincing. And if you’re really, really out of ideas, you can always rely on one of the most classic but useless comments: “I like high ceilings!”. Even if you’re one-meter-and-a-smurf tall, therefore genetically suitable to live even in the seven dwarfs’ house, go with the high-ceilings-feedback and you won’t regret it.
6. caribou – Sun
This is hard to explain, but if you come from a mediterranean country you’ll immediately get why this song has a very tight bond with Berlin. Caribou’s sun is not the warm, reassuring sun you might get to know in Italy. It hides, it lies, sometimes it freezes. It can be an ally as well as an enemy, and you never know when to trust it.
This is the feeling I often get not only about the weather in Berlin, but also about Berlin itself. Sometimes it’s the most welcoming, stimulating city and sometimes it’s a bitch able to shoot you in a colorful supersocial scene as well as to swallow you in a pond of loneliness.
more after the jump
1. the war on drugs – Come to the city
I grew up in a small, quiet village and I know the advantages of living in the countryside; I actually come to miss it, every now and then. But at the same time I’ve always known that my place had to be in a dimension where ridiculous, dangerous, unexpected things happen, where stories clash into each other and possibilities are so wide that you can’t even start to imagine them.
The city is definitely my place, and whenever I listen to this song by the War on drugs I immediately flash back to my first months in Berlin. There’s a vibrant, sleepless, alive mood attached to this song and that’s the same mood I got when I used to walk through the streets of Mitte by myself, right after work.
Take me back to the one I love. It’s not far, it’s on the way. I’ve been ramblin’
So I fell in love with this Berlin guy.
I wish this was the kind of story you could base a movie with Jennifer Lopez on. I wish there was an enlightenment followed by a run to the airport, short breath, slow motion hugs, tears, a long soft kiss and endless love. But love is end-full and didn’t really bring me here. As long as it can be extremely convincing, I think pain has always the best arguments.
I was brokenhearted on the sunny shiny day he broke up with me and I was broken-everything-ed on that very same night, when I opened my mailbox and got a reply to an email I had sent eight months before.
Dear You, we finally have a position available in our company based in Berlin. Are you still interested in working for us?
Are you still interested in working for free in a field you know nothing about? Are you still interested in living in a city where the only person you know is the one who hurt you the most?
I still feel like I’ve never answered those questions. That was life being ironic with a person who values irony more than many other things, so I simply sat down and watched my life being hijacked by events like I would watch an episode of 30Rock.
While I stepped on that plane December was grey and confused like the future I had booked a one way ticket for. And then my luggage seemed impossibly heavy like my whole life was in it and I was dragging it out of quicksands.
Where Treptow gets extremely silent and violently beautiful, just before ringing the bell of my new house, I realized that my chances of dying in the big scary city were increasing every second. And then again my chances of living were increasing too, and that seemed enough.
This blog is about what happened next.
I was doing pretty fine in Italy.
Living with my parents at age 26, eating pizza compulsively and working hard to keep all those worldwide famous stereotypes alive. But no, I was not into Mafia, although at times I wished I were; usually while doing my monkey-job for a company which worked for a company which worked for a company which worked for Google which is God. Or the Devil, that is yet to be determined.
But that was just a side activity: between one click and the next one I was actually studying hard-ish in order to become exactly what I would never ever want to become. A
serial killer child abuser drug addict programmer. You know when you order something at the restaurant and then you take a bite and you’re not sure whether you liked it or not? And then you take another bite and you’re still unsure? And then you go through the whole thing one bite at a time but in the end you still have no clue if it was good? That inscrutable dish was Informatics to me. And it actually took me six years to figure out that it was not my cup of tea.
Long story short: I was not going anywhere but down. Sinking slowly in a quicksand of unchanging boredom, like I was part of a still life painted in the fourteenth century, but not even in the center of the scene; more like one of those bananas on the side to which you never even pay attention. And the scariest thing is that I didn’t really feel the urge for a change.
Everything could have continued this way for a *long* time. Riding fake horses on the endless pointless reassuring carousel on which everybody I knew was standing.
But then I fell in love.