A different kind of Sunshine

In The Art of Travel, 1: Awakenings, Berlin, Places by Melvin1 Comment

Hello class, My name is Melvin and I’m currently a junior at NYU Berlin. I grew up mostly in California, and I really love it there, but I feel that I try to expand my perspective of the world. I’ve already browsed and explored the world so much from my computer at home, it’s getting a bit repetitive. So I decided to study abroad this semester in Berlin to expand my horizons and to try new things. My concentration in Gallatin is the role of the mind in the body connections. One of the things I like to do most is Traveling. I love going places and seeing other cultures and the interesting differences that I can’t imagine.

Berlin has been feeling pretty great for me. I enjoy the different feel of the streets and I feel like I’ve learned a lot in my first week here in Berlin. In my free time this semester I plan to travel and see the places around here and to explore the differences of life in Berlin. The first few days I awoke in Berlin, I was unaccustomed to the idea that I was in Berlin. It was hard for me to comprehend that the people here knew German as their default language, and that German is the language that they say hi in, and the language that their menus are in. In my head, I could just not believe I was in Berlin! It felt quite unreal.

“For seeing without feeling can obviously be uncaring; while feeling without seeing can be blind.” Reading that line I felt like it resonated with me. I find myself thinking that I can relate and feel with people, but I feel that I haven’t seen enough of the world yet. So I would be “blind”. Reading Pico Iyer’s “Why we Travel reminds me of why I freaking love traveling. He says, “it is, in the end, mostly because it’s a heightened state of awareness, in which we are mindful, receptive, undimmed by familiarity and ready to be transformed. That is why the best trips, like the best love affairs, never really end.” I really liked this part. I reminds me of another reason of why I love to travel. I’ve noticed that travel often feels like a private and long meditation for me. The long flights, the similarities of the airports around the world, all help to unify my experiences. It is a reflective experience for me always. And this was captured in Pico Iyer’s writing.

This time in Berlin, I plan to go out and do things and see things that I otherwise would not get the chance to explore back home in America. I want to try the clubs here, meet friends, and see and do things that I may feel lazy to do back at home. All at the same time, I wish to maintain a sense of openness and not judging, rather just enjoying and staying open to the differences that travel abroad brings. I’m definitely going to try all the food that Berlin has to offer me, trying to put aside my usual preferences and preconceptions to fully enjoy some Currywurst or Döner kebab and pretzels.

In the beginning of my stay in Berlin, I was also not accustomed to the weather. That was one of the major sticking points for me, I was worried that as a Californian, I would miss the Sun too much. But, as I have started to explore Berlin and Germany, I have found the cloudy or “bewölkt” weather to be oddly comforting and cozy. This would not have happened if I kept on clinging to my previous ideas of comfort and “good” weather. I’m happy that I’m able to notice this and put away my desire for perpetual sunshine just a bit.

(Image: Kühl Architecture along a river in Berlin; Source: Melvin)


  1. Hi Melvin,

    What a place to be for the ‘role of the mind in body connections’. Berlin’s history seems to lend itself to this immensely – I can’t imagine what it would be like to reconnect with a close friend or romantic partner after decades of receiving drastically different mental inputs (even today, relationships between east Berliners and west Berliners are a case study to be explored).

    I’ve only spent a week in Berlin, and it was also muggy, yet oddly cozy. Perhaps it’s the short buildings and wide avenues? I’m not sure. Either way, it does also lend itself to a certain meditative vibe. It was cool to read about the continuity you feel as your travels continue. Balancing the party and mindfulness; spontaneity and temperance – I’m sure you’ll gain a lot from the experience.

    Thanks for posting and introducing!

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