Originally this was my English assignment that I was doing tonight for next week’s class. A 350 word essay inspired by a book with the same title by Bill Bryson. I must say I felt a little underchallanged at this point. Three hundred and fifty words only? Seriously? But then I realized this might actually be some nice material for my Berlin blog. So here you are, folks. 🙂 Pretty much my first post on what it is like being back home after several years abroad.
About five years ago I came home from what seemed to be a regular day at school in Berlin. I found my mother sitting at the desk in the office, watching a video in a language I did neither understand nor could I place it anywhere on the planet. That day I was told that we would be moving away from Germany. To Kosovo, a place that I did not even know existed because it was not on my little, plastic globe. Now, four years and an additional country, also known as Saudi Arabia, later I am back in Berlin and trying to fit in again.
Even though I spent more than half of my life in this city, which is why I refer to it as my hometown, I still feel like a stranger sometimes and when I do, it’s actually a good thing. Most people feel like strangers unintentionally when returning home. It seems as if it just happens to them. I on the other hand, try to feel like a stranger on purpose because I want to experience Berlin from a new angle, since the Berlin I have known for so many years started to bore me, making it seem like nothing has changed here since the day I left four years ago.
Today I find myself joining Couchsurfing meetings, climbing through the broken windows of abandoned military bases and reading magazines like the Exberliner just so I can escape the Berlin that I have known for so many years and see all of those other interesting sides of it that are not part of the standard touristic routine.
I am a stranger here myself in a sense that I try to learn to appreciate this place, be it by thinking outside of the box in terms of in- town activities or just pretending like I am absolutely new here, trying to see Berlin through a new lens, and in a way, being a stranger here myself is pretty enlightening.