The most valuable part of my experience in Berlin this semester has been the pace of life. After New York City I craved for serenity, for just the shortest of moments to just be. Berlin gave me that. In fact, Berlin taught me that. The pace of life here is one that teaches you to be OK with just being, with sitting and drinking a coffee with the only obligation to do is reflect. Berlin is a place of reflection. It is apparent in the monuments it dedicates to its ugly history, never forgetting the responsibility that Germany has had in the history of Europe. This preservation of the past breathes into the life here a specific type of authenticity. An authenticity that acts as a homage to its own tragedies, as a people who bare the burden of past generations and are also victims in their own right. The history of the city is apparent everywhere. There are times when it is so evident that I am living in a place historically-fresh off of a world war. The unique traumas that the German people have gone through-the life experience of the country- makes Berliners especially considerate and empathetic to current life.
This is a city where speed does not exist, there is no reason for it here. You will wait 10 minutes for a beautifully rich cup of coffee, and while in those 10 minutes I ponder how the city can be functional when it goes at such a leisure pace, I am reminded of how that pace of life has allowed me to nurture and care for my own wounds. There is a consideration for life, not for the achievements that are reached within it, but for life itself. For the laughter of children, for the auburn aura that surrounds the nature in the parks during sunset, for the breath of the elderly. This is a place where you can feel whole just in the act of being alive. There are no levels of accomplishment marks that you must hit, nor pressure to always be forward looking. There is only the ripple of the Spree and the glistening rumble of the leaves on a sunny day.
I would highly recommend spending time here, especially if you feel consumed by the anxiety of life and if you feel that there is no sight of wholeness for yourself. This place taught me so much about cultures and about history, about life and about people. It allowed me to weed through the superficiality of the external world and brought me to the core of who I am, and an acceptance of the changes I will undergo as I become who I will be. I have learned the importance of a moment, how to truly digest and savor it in the midst of this temporal life. Come to Berlin if you want to find serenity, a bench to sit on and take in the magnificence of it all in this vastly expanding world.