It’s been more than 7 years since I, for the first and the last time, visited the city of Berlin. After having made the decision to live in Berlin for a few months, I asked German visitors whenever I had the chance to. In case they were from some other place in Berlin, I asked, “which place do you think is the better, Freiburg or Berlin?” When they were from Berlin themselves, the question was, “what is it like to live in Berlin? Would it be benign enough for me to live in?” For the F or B question, the answer was always B(erlin). For the yes or no question, it was of course yes. And for the open-ended question, there were countless positive comments that I cannot even dare to summarise.
“Berlin hat was.” Berlin has something.
I don’t know if people say the same thing about Seoul, too. But there are a few cities that are so well-known for their one-of-a-kind charms they throw on people. New York City, Paris, London, Barcelona, Hong Kong and Tokyo may be some grand examples. Just the idea of being there and breathing the air makes some people shiver from the excitement. Does Berlin make it to the list as well? Honestly, I have no idea yet. What I highly appreciate, though, is what the inhabitants of Berlin say about their city – that Berlin has this ‘something.’
What this ‘something’ refers to, I am quite clueless at the moment. I’m about to figure it out sooner or later. Berlin would be the city that I have inhabited for the fourth longest period of my lifetime. Actually I can barely wait to be there and look around, not as a traveller this time.
It’s also funny how your knowledge about the language makes you feel more closely related to the place itself. Here in Italy, I am constantly and unconsciously maintaining my alert mode. For instance, I tell myself that if something happens to me, I should do this and say that. But when I think about the time that I’ll spend in Germany, I let my guard off just a little bit and feel a bigger sense of comfort rather than alertness reigning over all the other possible senses.
See you in 16 days, Berlin.