“Berlin is a rapidly changing city, and its monopoly on coolness is just one of many titles it is attempting to steal. Not only are we presently witnessing its transformation into the European startup hub, but it should certainly also claim the crown of ‘city that never sleeps.’ As ambitious young entrepreneurs head to the office at 6 am, revellers fill their subway carriages, moving to yet another underground club. What’s more, these party-goers and future business moguls are all fuelled by the same thing – Berlin’s ‘Spaetkaufs’ – 24-hour convenience stores stocking everything from Apfelsaft to Zigaretten.”
I lived in Berlin for three years and have visited for prolonged periods more recently. Having never had a proper hometown as a youth, Berlin was an amazing adventure for an outsider attempting to settle in with the locals. I completed both of my degrees here and soon after began working full-time. I worked for two companies where the average employee was a former East German over the age of fifty. Both companies contained zero English-speakers, except for myself, and if anyone had a second language it was generally Russian thanks to their time in the East German People’s Army. Due to the fact that my main university courses were taught by a heavily-accented former East German, I had to quickly improve my German over the first year and a half anyway. Halfway through my time in Berlin I became completely fluent in workplace German, helping me integrate and assimilate into German society. I fell in love with Berlin as a city during my three year stay. I went through all of the ins and outs of its insane bureaucratic system and became mesmerised by the intense history one can uncover around every street corner. Most fascinating to me were the differences between East and West still in existence culturally and physically nearly three decades after the wall came down.