And where to find a friendly face
In a city I do not yet
Know how to love.
Some days are not that exciting:
Often you wake up and the clouds are heavy with rain. Sightseeing doesn’t seem all too appealing. You’re saturated with information from countless museums and exhibitions. You’ve met that same person for coffee twice already, and you feel foolish asking for a third. You’ve mastered how to spend time alone and are craving contact, but finding a friendly face in a large city is a task too overwhelming to bear.
Today is that day for me. Admittedly, I have wasted time this morning not knowing where to be or what to do. And the only rational answer is just to give in.
Settling into a new place is tough and it’s only today that I’m realising the gravity of that statement. Like at home, some days will seem like they are lacking in excitement and productivity. Often, I feel lazy. I berate myself for not taking complete advantage of my freedom to travel and immerse myself in everything, but then I remember that I am here for six months, not six days. Not every day has to be jam-packed with activity. Some days you will need to recharge.
Part of finding my balance, improving my mental health and opinion of myself, was taking the pressure off myself to constantly be achieving.
Tell yourself in these moments of self-doubt that time is in abundance. If today is not the day that you order your coffee in the native language, or learn to stand on your head in yoga, then tomorrow will be.
Not everything is always at your fingertips:
There is countless material online about what to do in your country of choice: classes to join, people to meet, things to see. The internet makes everything seem so accessible. You can type in a key word and millions of results pop up, beckoning you to click on them.
Being research-savvy is essential and takes practice. Admittedly I have not yet found the knack. I have spent whole mornings wading through a whole host of sites looking for yoga classes, language-speaking classes etc. only to find out that they are miles away, or perhaps not to my preference.
Some days, you will feel out of the loop.
Often, I have found word of mouth to be the most effective means of finding relevant information. Facebook groups such as ‘Free advice Berlin’ and ‘Girl-Gone International’ have become my best friend here. You can post any number of info requests from where to buy house plants, to how best to negotiate with a medical professional as an international person, to suggesting an idea for a meet-up in a specific area. I’ve learnt that people like to help and I have made connections as a result.
You are fundamentally the same person you were when you left home:
Travel brings perspective, and I’ve certainly had a large dose of that since temporarily moving to Berlin. I see certain aspects of myself in a new light, and have already conquered minor personal fears, but ultimately, I am the same person as I was when I left. I still have the same fears and anxieties, stresses and insecurities.
A change in geography does not relieve you of all emotional baggage. You may feel liberated, but parts of you will still labour with the weight of thoughts and feelings you had back home. This has been an important lesson to me.
An experienced traveller knows that, in any location, there will be good and bad days. There will be days where you have to affirm your purpose. Mine was to learn how to exist out of planning and structure, learning how to just ‘be’.
Don’t reduce this time by attempting to squeeze activity into each day. Just ‘being’, not ‘doing’, is important progress to make too.