An introduction to Berlin and Me

In The Art of Travel, 1: Awakenings, Berlin by Maria Sofia Hernandez2 Comments

How do you introduce yourself? It is interesting, yet challenging to describe yourself in a few sentences. You say your name, which was given to you, you say where home is, which you were born into and then you find something else that might seem worth telling. When you are in a new country, new city, with new people, you think you have no precedents, you can be whoever you want, start with a ‘clean slate’, but is it really true? What you always travel with is yourself, you get to decide what part of you you bring.

Something about Berlin called me, unlike before in my life where I always knew what was the next step, and was determined to get to where I wanted, this time something pulled me to this city, I believe it was the unknown. I was born in Mexico City, but grew up in Tijuana, when I was going to enter middle school I told my parents I wanted to go to school in the U.S., I knew my education would be better, and would open doors for me, I stayed in school in San Diego till I graduated from high school. As soon as I entered high school I was already thinking New York, I had been to New York when I was five years old, this time what pulled me was the fast paced city, the art, the museums, the theaters, the stories, I wanted to be part of it. I wanted to go to The Met, the MoMA, Broadway, the Rockefeller Center, Central Park, and study at New York University.

I had everything lined up, I believed, I had an idea of what it was like, maybe they were ‘touristy’ places, but I would know how to get to them without looking at a map, I would pass by them everyday, I would become, once again, part of it. I found the most joy when it started feeling like home, a place where I could be me and learn something new everyday, but also have a local coffee shop to do homework, a bed where I could stay all Sunday and friends that started becoming like family.

Berlin was different, I barely knew anything about it. I knew it was the capital of Germany, that it was once divided by a wall, and some of its history. As I heard more about its art scene, and the liberty artists had, I realized I had to be there. I did some research, mostly on the weather, to be honest. But I did not want to build any expectations. I wanted to come here with a clean state of mind, and just let it ‘flow’. I wanted to be surprised by the city, because it pulled me to it. I let it do it’s own work, arrive with an open mind to the unknown.

Almost two weeks in, I think I have gotten to know more about me, Maria Sofia, than the city, Berlin, itself, paying attention to how I introduced myself, what I share about my life, and how I become friends with strangers tells me more of who I am, and who I want to be. Also, how I react to not knowing where to go, and not having a certain idea of what I should be doing or could be doing. Furthermore, I see what my worries are, and more importantly of what I try to let go. I am treating this city as a new friend, I let myself be vulnerable but aware, to more deeply connect.

For me traveling is about connecting, about connecting what you know, with what you don’t, to grow, to become aware, not only about the place you are in, but also of who you are.
I want to be lost in Berlin, to be found.

(Image: Denken, Thinking. ; Source: Maria Sofia Hernandez)


  1. Hey Maria!
    I really relate to how when you travel you like to know a little about the place (like the weather) so that you’re well-prepared enough, but not well enough that you can form expectations that might leave you disappointed.
    I think something else that’s cool about traveling is that when you’re ‘flowing’ into a place and learning more about the place, the things that you learn and the lessons that you remember most simultaneously teach you more about a place and about yourself. Like why did you see or remember a specific thing that you saw or remembered? And what does that say about you?
    For example, for me I take notice of the extensiveness of public transportation and this tells me that I value efficiency and convenience. I think its pretty cool how the things we remember show us important parts of who we are

    1. Also I how that you keep learning new things about yourself! Even and especially any new changes after new experiences in a new place!

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