In The Art of Travel Spring 2017, 15. Farewells, Berlin by Nathalie Kozak2 Comments

All good things come to an end. It’s the golden rule of our existence. Yet it’s up to us to carry the good, the learned, the new, forward. This semester has been such a process in terms of friendship, growth, independence, and knowledge. The truth is Berlin allowed me to return to something I thought I had lost. At some point during my two and a half years of college, I became a bit too concerned… Concerned with responsibilities, with being proper, with the future, and it became a bit consuming. I forgot to let go, to be adventurous, to live with a sense of curiosity. I used to be such a free-spirit during high school, and somewhere between tricky relationships, work, and keeping up, my spirit got compromised.

When I arrived to Berlin, a huge pressure got lifted from my shoulders. I immediately felt lighter (despite the many döners I ate the first week), and I felt like I had returned to a sense of infancy, for lack of a better word. I stop being so concerned all the time. Being able to take in the moment, the stimulus of the now was something that innately traveled through my body the minute I got here. The best part of it is, I didn’t feel alone in that process. The people that surrounded me were also returning to this feeling. I know some of you might read this and be like whoa she must have gone wiiiild. But it’s not even about that. Yes, going out and experimenting in Berlin is quite exciting, but I think I’m talking about the smaller things. Being able to get up and follow your impulse without the fear of messing up, of being judged… Being able to take your reading all alone to a café you’ve never been to before, sitting in the park with your friends and crack open a beer, wearing your sweatpants and a t-shirt and feeling comfortable in your skin… I am going to miss that so much. Both in Chile, and in Abu Dhabi, society is a lot more concerned with who you hang out with, what places you chill at, where you go out at night. I definitely do not feel comfortable hitting a café on a Friday on my own in Chile, let alone order a glass of white wine while I read. People would think I’m not only antisocial, but also maybe an alcoholic. Honestly, it kind of sucks to be worried about those things, and it becomes so normalized you forget it’s practically a policy.

When it comes down to it, sure, I’m sad to leave Berlin, but I’m also kind of terrified. This place has made me find myself, it has made me a better person, and it’s given me the chance to meet incredible people that I might never see again. What if when I leave, that fades away? What if our developments are purely circumstantial?

I suppose that my biggest goal leaving is to ensure that somehow I manage to carry out what I have learned here throughout my life outside of Berlin. More than anything, I hope to maintain that sense of presence that I got here. It is so liberating to enjoy the moment you are in, and it is so easy to do if you are responsible about it. We are so quick to want to become adults, to live in the new apartment, to have a stable job, but maybe we should step back a bit and let our inner child glow again, even for just a moment.


  1. hi nathi! I could not agree more. Berlin and study abroad in general has made me a more relaxed person. Even though New York may provide anonymity through its blanketing, sheer mass of people that roam its streets, Berlin provides a different kind of anonymity – one that is the result of a culture that is respectful of other people’s prerogatives. I too will certainly miss this freeing quality.
    I have a good feeling you will keep in touch with the people you have met here. This unique experience bonds people in a particular way that makes it next to impossible to easily give up the meaningful relationships we form here.

  2. Hi Nathi! I love the idea you bring up of infancy. The way that study abroad throws you into this unfamiliar context is frightening but it’s also so full of potential. I also share your anxiety about going back to a different country with different cultural values. While I miss the States somewhat, I will miss being able to drink a bottle of wine on the river without worrying about getting written up by police and having the time to do things on my own. Hopefully you can find someway of continuing to enjoy solo glasses of wine and nights out on the town back in Chile and Abu Dhabi. I’m glad you had such a great experience in Berlin 🙂

    Safe Travels,

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