Orientations are over

In The Art of Travel, 2. Getting oriented, Berlin by Melvin1 Comment

Yes, In a modern city nowadays getting lost is a much harder thing to do. With internet, and the free wifi around, it is harder to resist walking into a nearby Starbucks or to a wifi spot to swipe on my phone to find local spots.  However, in the beginning of my stay in Berlin, I got lost.

One day while I was walking around, I had kept on returning to a certain square in the city. After trying to walk towards home for 40 minutes, I had continued to walk in circles and end-up where I started. At this time I was using the help of google maps, but for some reason I still had continued to walk in circles. I don’t remember how I managed to break the cycle and get home that day, but I feel that, after two weeks of stay in Berlin, that the same thing would not be able to happen to me now.

While I don’t find that much of a negative feeling towards the word “lost”, I definitely am enjoying getting oriented in Berlin. Honestly in the beginning, I really didn’t know how to get around the City. But now, I feel that I can know how to get around the City of Berlin. Because I go to School and take the trains and trams to get around the City. About a week ago, I remember that I wasn’t comfortable taking the trains and trams to get around the City. But now, I realize that I am starting to remember the names and the signs and the names of the locations. In my Classes, I am even getting oriented with the history connected with each of the locations. Each location that I visit opens a door of history.

Looking back on my first few days in Berlin, I remember the feeling of completely not knowing where I was. Just walking around would ensure that I would see different things. Every turn I would see new Murals, new architecture, new landmarks. I would get lost and take a really long time to find my way home after walking around. In the first 2 weeks that I have been here, I didn’t know anything about the orientation of the city. I barely knew how to get to school and I would be constantly worried if I was going on in the right direction on a train. The system that they used seemed to be really confusing for me. I thought it was something like New York, but actually I found that in their system they have a nicely integrated system of busses, trams, and trains that one can hop on and hop off from if one has bought the tickets(they don’t check every time for tickets). Once oriented, this allows for Berliners to move swiftly throughout the city. Their system of trains trams and busses. Since I have been here, whether I consciously know it or not, I have been getting oriented with the city. Now, about 2-3 weeks into Berlin, by glancing at my phone and the trains and trams, I can already have a good feeling and estimate about how long it will take to get some place. It is no longer completely lost wandering. I know where some places are now.

Now, with the layout of the City I am able to orient myself. I am even able to now ask for directions. I wouldn’t be able to do this even before because I would not know what the names of the areas were. But now, I have the knowledge to ask how to get from point A to point B.

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(Image: A walk around School; Source: Melvin)


  1. Melvin,

    You articulated really well the anxieties of not being familiar with your surroundings and having to take extra steps to get acquainted. I feel like in a city like Berlin especially where English isn’t the primary language, it’s be so easy to let yourself get lost and give up on exploring new areas. I love how you noted that observation is key in becoming familiar, rather than just following a set of directions, and I’m glad that in acknologing everything around you you’ve become a bit more familia with the city.

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