Minerva Chapter 4 | Berlin- 6 mins
A quick recap of what my semester in Berlin, Germany, looked like at Minerva outside of academics. For me to remember and for you to enjoy.
I arrived in Berlin! I was living in my friend Marie’s apartment, a one-bedroom on Karl-Marx-Allée in the East side of Berlin. It was incredible. I distinctly remember arriving on a sunny day, pulling up in the taxi to her (and soon my) apartment, and taking the elevator up to the 5th floor. It was the start of what was to be a great stay in the center of Berlin.
I spent a few days getting adjusted to life alone and in a completely new city. I had opted out of living in the Minerva residence this semester because of COVID regulations and the opportunity to have my own space. Work and internships were my priority.
I caught up with friends, explored Alexanderplatz, Friedrichshain, and Krezuberg, ate new foods, met new people, and within that first month two of my good freinds Carlo and Felix came to visit me for a weekend. It was a wild time although most of the city was on its way to corona-closure.
Overall, it was a great first month. I settled into a healthy routine, appreciating the September sun with frequent outdoor workouts, planning fun occassions with friends every weekend, and finding parts of Berlin I loved.
At the beginning of the month I met a girl I dated for the rest of the time in Berlin! We had a great time exploring the city under lockdown, when it was hard to meet new people. This lockdown started sometime early October.
I was headhunted for a role at Amazon around early October as well. This was super exciting for me because I wanted to work at a big tech company over the summer of 2021 to see what it was like. I went through the initial interviews, was sent a coding challenge, and then had the final round. I remember the stress and calming my mind with meditiation before the 2 interviews with potential future team members.
That evening I heard the result - I had an offer! It was a business intelligence engineering role, where I would be able to write SQL and Python queries, work with obscene amounts of data, do some machine learning, and build automated reports to support my team. I was beyond excited and it was extremely fortunate to have received an offer like this so early on. I accepted and my summer 2021 was sealed.
The rest of the month I was on a high. I explored further parts of Berlin on my Swapfiets bicycle, walked the wall, took film photographs, weaved through flea markets, and went on some great dinner dates.
The weather definitely started to get colder, so I joined a gym just for a month. I fueled myself up with many Turkish pizzas, my fashion sense became more Berliner, and I hosted a couple dinners at my apartment with friends.
Halloween came around and I dressed up as an old man. The mask I bought was pretty terrifying and I played the part well, scaring quite a few of my friends.
November flew by. Lockdown continued and I made plans to go to Miami with my family for Thanksgiving to see my grandma. My workload picked up as well.
Every weekend I continued to make fun plans with friends. We went out and explored a few museums, rode our bikes to the abandoned airport, Tempelhof, and celebrated quite a few birthdays.
Also, an old friend I played water polo with at St. Paul’s School, London, reached out to me about being in Berlin. We ate at a cafe recommended to me by an internet friend, and I got to show him around Kreuzberg. Despite my lack of German, I was starting to feel like a part of the city!
Thanksgiving came around! I flew to Miami for a weeklong trip with my parents and my sibings met us down there. Nearly the whole extended family converged. We had a few days of so much fun, enjoying the beach, exploring Key Largo, and having just an amazing time with my grandma. She was so happy I came all the way from Berlin.
At the end of the trip my brother and I decided to get our ears pierced in Miami. I was in the Berlin-mood and he was keen, so we went for it. Our mum was not happy. For me, I saw it as a social experiment - I wanted to see if people would treat me differently and in what way.
I ended up taking it out around April of the next year. It wasn’t healing correctly and it was particularly tedious when trying to ski with a helmet on, surf and have waves crash into it, and I couldn’t sleep on that side. The cost was much higher than the benefit (which was nonexistent). Also, earrings were ruined anyways by TikTokers. Lame.
The end of Berlin came too quick. I arrived back and the temperature had shifted into a brittle cold. Finals were approaching, the girl I was seeing had left, and the coronavirus was rampant. The city seemed dark and mildly depressed.
I spent my time working out in my apartment, buying some German Christmas presents, working with friends on our finals, exploring the last bits of Berlin we wanted to see, riding my bike around just for fun, and cooking some actually pretty delicious food.
Finals came up, there were a few sleepless nights (I was taking all higher level optimisation methods, machine learning, and Bayesian statistics classes - it was rough) and we celebrated being done.
The day before leaving it was my birthday. A lot of my friends had already left, but Amenti came around and spend the day with me. We ate Vietnamese food, walked to all of the cool graffiti spots we wanted to see and took plenty of photographs, and then my friends all suprised me in the evening with a big celebration at my apartment. It was a great end to the semester.
While COVID-19 may have affected my Berlin experience quite dramatically, it is easy to look on the bright side of things. My friends and I made some great memories exploring the city. Berlin’s alternative vibes and culture made me more aware and accepting of a variety of different personalities, passions, and natures. I loved the people, the energy before lockdown and it became too cold, and the food. It’s definitely a place I want to spend more time in, and I know there’s a lot still to discover in the global, beautiful, influential, historical, and complex streets of this city. Until next time, Berlin.
This is a habit for every Minerva semester. Stay tuned for 3 more chapters.