Berlin student, plenty of time, ready to party-but what is it really like? Ryan from Australia shares his diaries about difficulties as a non-resident,living in Neukoelln, getting cultural input at the Guggenheim or The Lange Nacht der Museen and surviving a cold German winter. Additionally he introduces the good places he has found, not only in Neukoelln.
One night last week I found myself super keen to stay at home and watch Scarface. Now that it’s really fucking cold, the temptation to do indoors-y things like going to the movies, staying at home to watch movies, or baking a cake is considerably more attractive. I know, it’s one of those classics that, as a twenty-something consumer of pop culture, I should have already digested, regurgitated and recycled in topical conversations about Al Pacino (no, I haven’t seen Taxi Driver either, so no, I can’t engage in a witty conversation about which character is more fucked up, but I did bake a mean carrot cake last week). And then I remembered megavideo.com has been shut down. Fuck! What is the global 18-34 year old demographic doing every night now???
I could have gone to the local DVD store on Maybachufer, but by this time I was at home, it was approaching -10 degrees outside, and last time I had to give them a 50 euro deposit because I don’t have proof of residence. Kind of hard to find a bill with your address on it when it is your fourth flat in Berlin in the past six months. I could also have downloaded it via torrent but since my friend here received a whopping 900 euro fine in the mail in October for downloading a music album (I think it was David Guetta – definitely not worth it), I have become a born-again responsible consumer.
However, last time, as proof of my increasing German-ness, I hired ‚Goodbye Lenin‚ and watched it in German with German subtitles (cheaper than language school!). I went to friend’s house party last weekend and managed to impress people with my 5 months of language skills by saying over and over again, „wann ich hier gekommen bin, ich habe gar nicht deutsche gesprochen, und jetzt ich weisse ein bisschen!„. Seriously, it works every time. Guys, if I say ‚I don’t speak German‘ really well in German, it doesn’t mean I speak German! But thanks, I’m flattered.
Speaking of cultural translation, I satisfied my cultural appetite last Saturday by going to the Lange Nacht den Museen. The annual 6pm-2am museum night generated an interesting mix of hip youngsters going out earlier than usual and well-heeled old folks staying out later than usual. One girl had brought her grandpa there. Cute.
The Berlin Guggenheim in particular (Unter den Linden 13/15, Berlin Mitte) presented an enthralling exhibition entitled ‚Found in Translation‘, featuring drawing, photography and multimedia exploring the effects of translation between cultures. One of the more interesting pieces was a series of photographs highlighting the cultural juxtaposition of Chinese Communist Party propaganda and western influences in young Chinese people. Another was a wall-sized Tintin comic print, cleverly modified to remove its historical context (you had to be there). That exhibition continues until April 9 and every Monday is free entry, so get onto it yo!
My German freunden who are looking for a cultural exchange of their own can go check out ex-Australian, now Berliner, singer-songwriter Ned Collette, who holds a residency at Valentin Stüberl (Donaustraße 112, Neukölln) every second Monday. Berlin ladies: come for the music, stay for the attractive and heavily-bearded Australian men.
Alternatively, you could just go to cheap Taco Tuesdays (1 euro tacos, 1 euro tequilas and 4 euro margueritas!) at Santa Maria (Oranienstraße 170, Xberg). Not to meet Australian men, but to meet, well, anyone who isn’t German. Neither I nor my German friend had been there but we soon found out was almost exclusively an ex-pat hangout. Didn’t matter; food is a universal medium, especially those kick-ass pork tacos!
– Ryan is an Australian student in Berlin with too much time on his hands.