So, I live in Berlin now.
Yes, today marks two whole weeks since I moved to the capital city of my favourite country. That’s pretty surreal to me but, if I’m honest, it still feels like I’m on a holiday... albeit one that I really over-packed for. This feeling is stemming from two main places.
First, the longest holiday I’ve had in Germany was one month. On two other occasions, I was here for three weeks. In fact, between October 2008 and July 2016, I’ve spent a total of fifteen weeks visiting Germany. With that in mind, I think it’s pretty easy to understand why these past two weeks have just felt tacked on to that.
The second reason is that I still don’t have my own place yet. The flatsharing market in Berlin is unbelievably competitive, and particularly difficult to break into if you haven’t lived in Germany before. Currently, I’m staying with an amazingly supportive friend while I find my feet.
I’m convinced that once I break through that one-month record, and even more importantly once I have my own room with my own stuff in it, I will finally realise that this is my home now.
So, on to the whys.
Why leave Ireland?
This is the biggest question. Up until two weeks ago, I lived in Dublin for my entire life. I was born there, went to school there, and worked there. Yes, I’ve been very fortunate to have been given the opportunity to travel to a lot of really interesting places, but in reality, Dublin was all I knew. It’s important for me to say here that I understand that that works for some people, living in one place forever, but that it is absolutely not me. From a very young age, I’ve wanted to live in another country for even just a year, but preferably a few different countries and for much longer.
I don’t feel tied to Ireland, I don’t yet know whether it will be where I want to raise a family, or return to when I’m old. All I know for now is what I’ve known for the last ten years – I need to experience life elsewhere in order to better understand what I want from my own life. This is not an emigration the likes of which you see in the news and in your extended circles. I had a good, stable job, my family and my best friends all in Dublin.
I left consciously, not out of necessity. I left Ireland because I’m done with it for now.
For anybody who knows me this won’t even be a question, but I’ll answer it anyway. I am totally and completely obsessed with Germany. I’ve been learning the language since I was six years old, and have wanted to live here since I was about sixteen. I support Germany in sporting events, listen to German music, and I even had a German flag on the wall of my flat.
I’ve been on-and-off throwing the idea around my head of moving to Germany, always waiting for the best time to do so. I’d get caught up with jobs, planning finances, in relationships or whatever else and it just kept getting pushed back. Ultimately though, I decided that I don’t want to end up one of those people who can’t let go of wondering “what would my life have been like if...?”
I want to find out rather than just talk about it, so I applied for college.
When I was in school I first thought about taking a year out after my Leaving Cert to live in Germany. Then, when choosing a college to go to, I specifically chose based on the availability of the Erasmus programme, aiming to go to Germany in my third year. I didn’t take that year out, and I didn’t get past my second year at UCD. I shifted my focus to work, which had previously always been part-time, and I regrouped. I planned to finish out my degree in Ireland and then move over to Germany to do my masters. I re-enrolled at UCD and... didn’t even last a semester. I moved my focus back to my growing career.
Regroup. Rethink. Re-evaluate.
I discovered that I was no longer happy with my job after two years, and when I was honest with myself I knew that I wouldn’t be happy unless I found something more challenging. I knew that I had to go back to college and get a degree, but that that would cost a lot of money as I was stuck past the free-fees point, but too young to be a mature student. Finally, moving to Germany was the plan that made the most sense, not just the one I wanted the most. Bachelor degrees in public universities are incredibly affordable, the cost of living is lower, and I’d be stimulating my mind in a whole new setting.
What’s not to like?
This is a funny one. Berlin was not actually my first choice. Back in June, I went on a sort of recon mission to the south of Germany, the area that has long felt like a second home to me. Bavaria, and more specifically Munich, are the locations I talk about when I talk about how much I love this country. That being said, Munich is the most expensive place to live in Germany, so it didn’t really make sense as an option.
My recon mission took me to some university towns in Bavaria and Baden-Wurttemberg, and chief among them was Nuremberg. I fell completely in love with Nuremberg the moment I arrived there, and only got to love it more as I explored. I applied for college there as soon as I got home and... didn’t get in. Apparently, choosing ordinary-level maths is a decision that really does affect your life, even at 23.
Happily though, I did get accepted to my back-up choice, which is university in Berlin. I’ve visited Berlin twice before and, as I mentioned, I do have one friend here which makes a huge difference when relocating. Although I would have loved to have moved to Nuremberg, I am absolutely happy to have ended up here instead.
So there you have it! Those are the major whys that I can think of. I’ve been fairly inactive here because, as you might imagine, moving country is absolutely no walk in the park, and nor is applying for university in Germany from the outside. Bureaucracy is alive and well here, let me be the first to assure you.
I wanted to keep this relatively concise and more of an update than anything else, but there will be more moving-based content coming. I’m keeping my Instagram very up-to-date as I bop around this city, so give me a follow on there if you haven’t already.
And yes, before you ask, you can come visit me once I have my own place.