December 19th, 2010

(no subject)

I'm back from the company holiday party in Hamburg. While I haven't officially had my first day of work yet, they invited me to come along, which was cool.

I met up with everyone at the Berlin office on Friday afternoon and we all took the train together to Hamburg, where they had gotten hotel rooms for us. After we freshened up we continued onward to the Hamburg office, where the company had gotten the event space on the first floor for free. It was a really nice big space and the food was great. The owner of the company sat next to me at dinner and he explained that he felt it was better to have a cheap holiday party and be able to give out great gifts to the employees, than to spend big bucks on an expensive venue.

They gave us all iPads!!!

This is so much easier to lug around than my laptop, and so much easier to use than my iPhone. And it was free, which is the really cool thing. So here I am, sitting in a cafe, typing away on my iPad, looking excessively like a Yuppie hipster, which in this particular cafe means I fit right in.

Tomorrow it's back to searching for an apartment, and this nifty little gadget is going to make it a lot easier. I'm going to investigate spaces in Neukoln and Kreuzberg this week. All my new coworkers seemed to think that area was pretty good, so I'm going to investigate and see what I can find.

You know, as a tourist I always found Sundays so excruciatingly boring because nothing was open and there was nothing to do. But now that I'm living here it has become my favorite day. I don't feel guilty about being lazy, and I can just chill out. It's a great feeling, definitely different from Chicago, where I never felt like I could take a break or even just take a moment to breathe or notice what season it was. Speaking of which, I have totally noticed that it is winter here (even though fall is not technically over). It hasn't stopped snowing since my first night here, and everything has a beautiful blanket of white covering it. It's hard to get around, but it sure looks beautiful.

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Some pros and cons of living in Germany/ Berlin that I've noticed so far:


1. People recycle EVERYthing here. There are different garbage containers down at the front of our building for recycling different things: plastic, paper, organic matter (like orange peels and coffee grids), cans, and one for general garbage. Glass is collected in big bins on the street corner that look like giant gumdrops: one for brown glass, one for green glass, and one for clear glass.

2. Food is REAL food. You get a sandwich and even if it cost you 1 Euro it is the best sandwich you ever had. Everything is so FRESH. Last night I had linguini that had been made from scratch earlier in the day at a restaurant and it was only 6 Euros. Amazing!

3. Public transportation is reliable and runs on time. This is axiomatic here.

4. People *shovel* the snow early in the morning, they do not wake you up at 6am with snow-blowers (at least, that is my experience here in Berlin – I don't know how it is in other parts of Germany).

5. I can see great live bands here. For instance, I'm going to see Laibach on the 29th. The last time they toured in the states was 2004.

6. Sunday is a Day of Rest. Nothing is open. You can not run that errand, do that thing, go to that place. Or you can, but it will be closed. Cafes and restaurants are open and little else is. It forces you to de-stress and I love it.


1. Nothing is open on Sunday. I just accidentally opened my roommate's container of whipped cream thinking it was my yogurt because the package is exactly the same size/shape/color/brand etc. And now I can't replace it until tomorrow. I hope she doesn't notice...

2. Apartments don't always come equipped with a kitchen sink, refrigerator, or oven, you have to buy and install them yourself. In face, MOST places don't have a refrigerator, and you're really LUCKY if they have a kitchen sink and stove/oven.

3. Things take a lot more time here. For instance, with my apartment search, even if I find a place, the application process will take a long time. At the last place I looked at, the woman told me that even if I were to fax her my application and all of my paperwork, I wouldn't be able to move in until January 15th.

4. People need signed documents and letters of recommendation for just about everything. It's nuts. I'm going to have to start being organized with all my paperwork, *groan*

5. Not being able to read/speak perfect German is a real bummer. I'm learning more and more every day, but still. My classes start at the Goethe Institute here on January 4th, and I'm hoping that will help me pick it up faster, and having German all around me 24/7 helps, too.