Sunday, December 18, 2011
Stomping Grounds: I Haz Them
A glimpse into adult life: New room, building IKEA furniture, desperate victory. Not sure who writes those instructions, but they have a sick sense of humor sometimes. Ah well. It's almost Christmas, how the heck did that happen? I really feel like I've been both here forever and that I've just arrived. I've been here four months and about a years' worth of things have happened, I'd say!
As you may interpret from the above picture, I finally found a permanent flat! Whew! It's in Kreuzberg in the Graefekiez (Graefe neighborhood). I'm walking distance from two different U-Bahn (subway) lines going two directions, a bus that goes to the main train station and a big park called Hasenheide, which I unfortunately will not make much use of until winter is over. In my neighborhood so far I've discovered a tiny little falafel stand called King of Falafel, run by one man who makes the falafel fresh himself and lays out each vegetable, hummus, etc. into the perfect place on the pita before rolling it all together into delicious perfection for 2,50 EUR. There is also Vegoloumi there (vegan haloumi cheese). My current obsession though is a place called Hamy, a thai food restaurant that has a tiny menu and two specials every day, always delicious with some sort of curry sauce and tons of fresh veggies on top. I have probably spent an entire paycheck on pineapple-coconut milk shakes and thai curries since I've moved in. Berlin has a lot of good food to be eaten.
Three months of searching have paid off in that I have an good-sized room with two big windows, big kitchen, living room with balcony, bathroom with bathtub and a guest WC. I live with 3 other women in a cool area for 300 EUR a month with utilities. While much cheaper can be found in Berlin, for where and what it is, I think I've done well. We're sitting on an old contract so somehow that's kept the gentrifying and thus rent-skyrocketing at bay. Now I just need visitors. It really needs to be spring so I can explore more. I have lots of plans involving myself and the future bike I'm going to buy. And food. And coffee. Graefestrasse and Dieffenbachstrasse, the former which I live on, seem to be filled with lots of cute bars, cafes, etc. with cool lighting. So pumped!
My new room was empty, which means I've been learning to do lots of things like buy and figure out how to get furniture into my apartment without a car or tons of money. I also painted my first wall (green!), bought my first screwdriver (fancy!) and drilled holes into the wall with minimal screaming to make a contraption with metal wire and hooks for curtains. I somehow didn't ruin everything! If buying furniture and painting a wall is not a sign of my commitment to stay in Berlin, I don't know what is! One of my new years resolutions is going to be to learn to be more handy. On this list is to stop being so scared of the power drill, install floating fake wood flooring over my ugly ass floor and to learn how to fix a bike and/or tell what's even wrong with it. I'll get back to you on this. Apparently I've lived a kept life until now.
On the job front things are...heated. I have two jobs. The first is an office job at a school that runs an executive MBA program for people in creative industries. I love this job and they're helping me expand my visa so I can do other things in addition to teaching. However, after my intensive Rostock course my teaching job decided to give me some classes in kitas (kindergartens). Normally there are two intensive weeks of required training for this, but they decided I was a quick learner and sent me off to teach my first day of classes after less than two full days of training. Actually I think I observed four 45 minute classes and taught one while being observed. While it is flattering and I did fine....I decided I absolutely hate teaching children. Give me grammar, rude adults with iPhones and forced company classes any day over this. Luckily I only teach Mondays right now, but am trying to get out of my contract as soon as possible without causing drama so I can go back to adult-land. You live, you learn, yeah? If I have to sing the Good Morning Song one more time I'm going to kill someone. Kudos to all you kindergarten ESL teachers out there, I don't know how you do it!
I am heading back to Prague for Christmas and likely New Years to stay with some friends and I'm pretty excited to be back on my old stomping grounds. I plan to eat a lot of langoše and trdelník before the Christmas markets are gone! The German Christmas markets are pretty epic (Germans are obsessed with Christmas), but I love me some fried things!
See you in Prague?