At 1747 on Saturday October 26th my train will pull into Berlin Hbf and I will be arriving at the place I hope I will be able to call home. Since a short period living in the German capital between October 2001 and March 2002 I have longed to return, and now I am actually going to finally manage it.
So why am I moving to Berlin?
Berlin is my favourite city. Nothing else comes close. It has the brilliance of a big city, without the downsides of London. It’s liberal and also (relatively) organised. It’s both historic and modern. It’s a city where you can find absurdity and tranquility within a few metres of each other. It’s a place that after all these years visiting still excites me, still gives me a spring in my step.
The move is of course not going to be without its problems. I moved from London to Copenhagen just over a year ago, and to some extent I am now just running away from how Denmark has emphasised my own inadequacies – my inability to find my place in Copenhagen, and to build any sort of personal or professional network there. I cannot look myself in the mirror in Denmark and have any idea what I could contribute that could not be done better by a local, someone better versed in the rules and norms of the society than I can ever be. Even were I to learn Danish to fluency I still have no idea what I could ever do in Denmark, what I could ever be. The fault for that lies with me, and with me alone, and my inability to fit. For personal reasons I am going to be back in Denmark reasonably regularly though.
Somehow as an outsider to Germany I find the challenges easier to surmount than elsewhere. I speak near fluent German already, and through working intermittently in Berlin as a freelancer over the years can call on a big network of people to work with. Many of these people do extraordinary things, they inspire me, and interesting things happen when I talk to these people. Also the whole environment around work is so much better in Berlin – I can go to events and perfectly understand what is going on (so far impossible in Denmark). More than a dozen old friends also live in Berlin, so socially things are going to work out fine too.
I am also fascinated by the prospect of throwing myself into German politics. I found myself behaving more like a typical German than a typical Brit when it came to my reaction to the NSA / Snowden scandal. Also on green energy and EU matters my views are reasonably mainstream in Germany, while I feel I am in a minority of one in the UK, and so far do not have the cultural understanding to be political in Denmark.
I will continue to essentially work freelance, running training courses about online communications and social media for political and governmental clients. That will still mean regular trips to Brussels, but I hope to be able to get more work in Berlin – I have some contracts there already and will actively seek more.
I will stay in a friend’s spare room in Berlin immediately after moving, and will then find my own place to live – trying to use social media to do that will be a subject of a further blog post.