Archive for February, 2014

  • Spring Came Early

    Living through my first Berlin winter has been tough. Terribly tough. The European winter is on a whole other level to what Australians call this season back home, which I can see very clearly now is not a ‘real’ winter at all. But because I don’t want to dwell on what was easily the most difficult time of the year, let’s talk about spring.

    Spring came early in Berlin much to my delight. As the historical average temperature for February is just 3ºC, as the month marched by I kept anticipating another frozen spell like that which scarred us in late January; two weeks of bone-aching and face-numbing cold where the temperatures didn’t even peek above 0ºC. More on those days in another post.

    But February came and is almost gone now and things are looking up. It’s been an unusually warm month by Berlin standards and the past few days in particular have been glorious. I’ve been able to open up the windows of my apartment and let the sun stream through and I’m loving watching the birds make their springtime nests from my kitchen window. Last Sunday, Ben and I spent some time reading in the park, welcoming the warmth of the sun’s rays on our pale faces. Everywhere I look, the bare trees are budding and little pops of colour are beginning to spring up. The days are getting longer and thermals are not needed anymore. Oh, and Berliners seem to be a little happier. I’m seeing more smiles around as I go about my day. Yes, Spring, I know you came early, but you are more than a welcome early guest.

    Blue Sky and Buds

    Green Buds on Falkplatz

    Tulips on Torstraße

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  • Hello and Welcome!

    As this is my very first blog post on The Department of Wandering, in fact, my first blog post ever, I am so excited to welcome you! You can find more about who I am and why I’ve started this blog on the About Me page. My posts will focus not only the life I’m living as an expat over here in Berlin, but also on the precious travel experiences I’ve been so fortunate to have had so far in my life. My Destinations page is divided into two broad categories: Past Adventures, which contains posts about some amazing journeys I’ve taken as ‘trips’ whilst still living back in Australia; and Let’s Go Somewhere, which provides a snapshot into the most recent travel I’ve been fortunate enough to do whilst living over here in Europe.

    So a little word about why this blog came into existence. Not only is this a way to provide a more complete insight into the new life I’m living halfway around the world for the benefit of family and friends back home, I also feel that such a profound experience as moving to a foreign country to live and work should be documented in a more complete manner. A blog is a fantastic platform for doing so.

    And so what is it like to become an expat exactly? So many things.

    Both my partner, Ben, and I are stronger and wiser people having taken this leap. It is not something that everyone could have or would have done. We chose to take a risk and to embrace this new opportunity with everything we had. What was the worst that could happen? If we absolutely hated our new life in Berlin? We’d come home. It was as simple as that. But, after all, when we thought about it, if we were to stay for one year, that works out to be only 1.25% of our lives if we live to be 80. That’s nothing in the scheme of things! And if taking risks such as this in our twenties before we have the constraints of a mortgage or a family tying us down is not the right time to do it, when is?

    Living abroad has been incredibly rewarding for us both as individuals and also as a couple. We have both undergone significant growth spurts as people and have learnt a lot of lessons, both about life in general and ourselves. We are more courageous, willing to take risks, more adaptable, flexible and independent than we ever would have been had we remained in our bubble back in Melbourne. Back home we both had good jobs, lived in a nice apartment in the city and lived a comfortable life. But we both felt stagnant in our careers and that was enough to call for a change.

    Having said that, adjusting to this new life has been far from easy. There’s the language barrier for one (although we are fortunate in Berlin where we can easily get by without being able to speak perfect German), a different culture to adjust to, the challenges that were associated with Ben’s new job including a horrendous commute due to flooding in northern Germany, the frustration I experienced in not being able to find a job until now (I start on March 31st! Yippee!) and the resulting feeling as if I was in limbo with my career, as well as our apartment being broken into and having most of our electronics stolen. Aside from all of these challenges though, we wouldn’t do anything differently and have become stronger people as a result of all of these experiences. In addition, the fact that I just got to spend the past eight months as a lady of leisure, waking up without an alarm, exploring this interesting new city and searching for the best coffee in Berlin has been a real gift.

    So thank you for stopping by. I hope you find a little piece of inspiration somewhere here to help you step outside your comfort zone and grab this wonderful life with all the strength you can muster. Keep searching. Keep questioning. Keep exploring. And just go somewhere!

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