BENI X BERLIN
CITY GUIDES // BERLIN // EDITION 1
"Listen. I was a London snob. I never imagined living in any other European city other than London. But London doesn’t like me. I’m too poor for it. SOMETIMES I WANT MORE THAN JUST TAP WATER. SOMETIMES I WANT A GREEN SMOOTHIE. BUT WITHOUT THE 12 HOUR SHIFT I'D HAVE TO DO TO PAY FOR IT. "
DISCLAIMER: The city does not like suits, so don’t come here expecting button-down shirts, loafers and Jack Wills. They’re all in Munich and Stuttgart. Berlin on the other hand has been saved from the suit-induced high prices and is the centre of artistic, rebellious and creative european culture. You won't find Parisian architecture or London glamour here.
Instead Berlin is a multi-cultural hot pot of imagination, possibility and community. Its charm is enabling you to live a very full life at a very human scale. You have incredible cafes, restaurants and nightlife all at your doorstep and even better it's completely affordable.
Perhaps most notable is the great community feeling you get here. Being able to recognise and connect with people who are in Berlin for the very same reason you’re. A shared dislike for the consuming big city life. Another plus is the average age of Berlin is late 20s, and that youthful spirit is reflected in the range of exciting and fun things to do in the city. There is never a dull day in Berlin.
Don't get me wrong, it's far from perfect. Inter-cultural relationships aren't as harmonious as you'd hope for. Pocket communities are a lot more polarised here than my home town London. Strong and proud Turkish communities show a general aversion to integrating, and a lot of this has to do with being completely marginalised and a turbulent relationship with a prejudice state. More interestingly, Turks have a very different history than South Asian communities in London, for example. Specifically they were never colonised. Perhaps Turks through their Ottoman heritage rally together by feeling part of a great history and empire of their own, as supposed to the post-colonial inferiority complexes a lot of other communities suffer from, which resulted in them willingly assimilating/integrating a lot quicker. From what I've noticed anyway, Turks do not care. Haha. And good for them! Integration is a two way street, something I feel Europe as a whole could do a little bit better at realising.
Of course this poses problems for someone like you or me who feels part of both cultures, East and West. It can at times feel like you don't quite belong anywhere, or that you're taking sides. Uncle at the Turkish corner shop might give you a strange look wearing your COS ensemble or you might feel like the odd one out being the only brown person at a Street Food Party. The two sides are upsettingly far apart leaving you to swing between both like a pendulum.
However, besides this Berlin is officially my favourite Euro-city. Few cities give you as much as Berlin does. This is why many plan to come for one year, but end up staying for many many more. Berlin has been home for me this past year, and the thought of leaving it just gives me a heavy, heavy heart. Who knows, I could be here longer, maybe...
Things I'll miss? I've never lived right next to a canal. Now I do. I've never been within crawling distance of the best cafes in town. Now I am. I've never had a BBQ at an abandoned airport. Now I can. Anything can happen in Berlin!