Some of you may wonder what life is like as an American student studying abroad in Germany. I can’t speak for all, but I can offer some insight as to what my day-to-day life is like. I guess I should forewarn you that there isn’t anything particularly special or interesting about tackling the mundane and quotidian chores that one must do every day to simply exist (as a functioning member of society). Though, at the same time, life here in Berlin is somewhat different compared to what it is like in the states, (at least my daily routine has changed) and I suppose I should share some of these things.
A TYPICAL WEEKDAY usually ends the same way it begins… That was probably a very confusing way to start off a paragraph now that I think about it, but what I mean to say is that for breakfast I usually eat a nutella and peanut butter sandwich, always toasted. And after dinner, I eat the same delicious, gooey, mess of a sandwich. Now I know what you’re probably thinking, that’s not healthy at all! And you’re right, it absolutely isn’t, but it sure beats eating cornflakes for breakfast. (I’m actually quite surprised I haven’t gained any weight from this habit). Cereal here in Berlin is different from the states, as in you don’t get the same brands. This is probably due to laws in regards to what can be put into food and I’m sure American cereals break all of the German standards. But I digress. I am a man of habit, when attending Cheshire high school I ate a bagel every day, in Boston I would start my day with oatmeal before classes, here in Berlin I toast up some bread and lather it with peanut butter and nutella. Yum.
AFTER BREAKFAST I have a daily forty minute commute (sometimes twenty five minutes) to my classes. The public transit here is fantastic. During rush hour the trains are usually split by five minutes and are also timed with trains on other lines, making transitions all the more smoother and efficient for commuters. Back in Cheshire I would walk to school whilst in Boston for co-op I would ride my bike, often faster than the T. Here in Berlin, the public transit is so user friendly that anyone can become confident after riding the train just a handful of times. I know that if I were to come back to Berlin I would have no problem navigating around the city using public transportation.
ONCE I ARRIVE with my friends at school, we either have studio, history, or sustainability. I believe I’ve already given descriptions of each of these, but just to jog the memory, studio is where we work on a semester long project, which for this semester is a baugruppe housing apartment. History is all about Berlin from the years 1815-2015. Sustainability is where we learn about building efficiency in its parts and in the larger scale of cities and nations. We go on a lot of field trips for the latter two classes and so sometimes we don’t go to class but instead meet at a site in Berlin for lecture.
IN THE CASE where we don’t have a field trip, I usually hang around in studio for a couple of hours to do some homework, but mainly to use the wifi. We don’t have that luxury in the apartments and so to maximize our intake of digital media we stay in studio for a little while longer. It’s a precarious thing to balance, procrastination and productivity, since the studio has free wifi, yet closes at 10pm on weekdays and is also closed all weekend. It’s almost as if we have no choice but to be productive whenever in studio. It seems to me that this lack of wifi has altered the way I procrastinate or recreate. Instead of binge watching Netflix or scrolling through the depths of buzzfeed, archdaily, or facebook, I now play guitar more often, now that the weather is nicer I play ping-pong outside the apartments, if it’s the weekend I may go out and travel. These are all things I’m happy to trade wifi for, and I think they are ultimately better alternatives too.
RIGHT AFTER I come back home I usually change my clothes, plug in my earphones and march off to McFit, the place where I get rid of my mcfat. I don’t want to come off as one of those guys that post about going to the gym all the time, but I do go to the gym when I can. Honestly it’s been a bit disappointing not being able to have a regular routine since some weekends I am unable to go because of field trips or independent traveling, or recently because of all of the papers and presentations I had to work on, which made me have to skip a couple of days at the gym to finish in time. Back in Boston I was able to go six out of seven days in the week, but here I average around three to four. At least it’s enough to negate all of the peanut butter-nutella sandwiches I’ve eaten.
I ALMOST FORGOT LUNCH. Just to quickly mention, for lunch I usually pack a sandwich. But that is never enough since I usually get hungry by 10am and I still have to wait until 12pm to eat. So I compensate with an added Doner Kebab. These things are delicious, and you all know my love for them already. But recently I’ve decided to take a break from Doner since I have somehow actually gotten tired of eating it. It’s time for me to taste what else Schoneberg (the town where our school is located) has to offer. Seeing that I’ve managed my money quite well, I don’t need to eat so cheaply and can afford a few nice lunches out here and there. Just last week I had a delicious lunch at an Indian restaurant called Mela, just a few buildings away from studio. I will most definitely be eating there again!
AS FOR DINNER… I am almost always the one that cooks. There have been a handful of occasions where my roommates have cooked but for the most part I do most of the cooking, and they do the cleaning. It works best since I know how to cook good food, and if I am going to cook, I may as well cook enough for everyone. No matter how delicious of a meal I cook, and how full I am afterwards, I must always, finish it off with a peanut butter-nutella sandwich. It’s really like a ritual at this point, and perhaps too recurring of a theme for this self-aware blog post.
IF IT IS A FRIDAY, things are usually followed with night activities and friends. I think that’s the most appropriate and minimalist way I can put that and I’ll leave it at that.
ON THOSE GROGGY weekend mornings I force myself out of bed in an effort to be productive. This usually means taking a walk to Kremanski, the haven for all things wifi and coffee. There in the back lounge I can be found staring at my computer doing research whilst sipping a cappuccino. Though, with wifi also means distractions so I may be more likely checking email, using facebook, or chatting on skype. If I want to get work done for studio, I’ll probably just sit in the apartment and listen to music, muting out the outside world while I focus on my work.
FOR THE OCCASION when I am not employed and toiling away, when my time management seems to work out, I am out and about in the city and exploring new places. As it was this past weekend’s case, I was gallivanting around Berlin for Easter, which I will go into more depth with another blog post.