To Berlingo or not to Berlingo?

I feel I owe this blog a short explanation. I know I wrote a lot about my big life switch in my previous post, but still, I feel the need to scribble something else.

Since 2015 turned into 2016, I have spent 10 days in Berlin and then, this evening (Wednesday 20th January 2016),  I made it official on Twitter and LinkedIn that I no longer live in Berlin.

On the face of it, that was a very simple editing task on two insignificant social media platforms. However, if you dig a little deeper, there is more to it than that.

Roughly 14 months ago, I finally made the decision to do what I’d dreamt of doing since graduating from university and decided to move to Berlin. Over the following five months, I went about swotting up for the CELTA course I booked onto in April, I was brave and confessed to all my colleagues at Taylor and Francis that I was leaving, and I went on a totally unrelated trip of a lifetime to Malaysia to visit a best friend.

Then, on the 12th April 2015 I moved to Berlin with one giant holdall and lots of stationery and set about becoming an English teacher. I feel incredibly lucky in the fact that doing the CELTA at the Berlin School of English led me more or less directly to being employed as a teacher there, and I spent 8 months teaching a mixture of company, intensive and one-to-one courses both in the school and around the city. I also picked up work for a totally different kind of company called Natives, thanks to a friend from ELTABB, and got some experience teaching Business English. I attended workshops with ELTABB and even made a token attempt at learning to code to create my own teaching website! It was a wonderful year of learning and professional development.

I liked being a teacher but, despite lots of colleagues’ protestations that they didn’t believe me, I didn’t love it. I was always so nervous before classes and I am famously terrible at being spontaneous, which I don’t think is an ideal quality for a teacher. Like all teachers, I had great classes, I had distinctly average classes and I had a few real clangers. There are all kinds of cans of worms I could open about bad pay, unreliable hours and cancellations in the ELT world, but on the whole, my experience was pretty positive and I’m a glass-half-full kinda girl, so I’ll leave the negativity to other people (or at least another post!)

Even still, for me, the highlight of this little ‘gap life’ experience was the city. I loved living in Berlin. I loved watching the wonderful mix of people on the U-Bahn, I loved joining in the nationwide obsession with coffee and cake and I loved how much more relaxed I was as a consequence. Yes, it’s a capital city, but by name only – never in a million years could I imagine a U-Bahn station on the Kudamm being shut due to overcrowding as occurs on a weekly basis at Oxford Circus.


The unbelievably delicious lunch I shared with my best Berlin buddy, Sabrina, in the two Michelin-starred restaurant by Tim Raue

I still don’t think I was ever cool enough for Berlin, but I tried: I had a bike, I made my own bircher muesli and I went jogging along the canal (on very rare occasions, when I’d eaten too much aforementioned coffee and cake.)

I then left my favourite city for good last Thursday, and four days later I was getting up at 5.45am, getting two trains to Oxford and then toddling past gorgeous Oxford University College buildings and out to the main offices of Oxford University Press, where I now work as a Digital Project Manager. From publishing to English teaching, and back again to publishing. 

I’ve now been commuting to this wonderful new job for three days, but it still feels like yesterday that I taught my last class at the Berlin School of English. The culture shock has been more intense than I was expecting – I find it odd that I don’t have to shake the hand of every new colleague I meet in the office; disconcerting that strangers smile at me in the corridor and a huge act of kindness when I’m allowed to disembark by train before people start barging onto it.

England will always be my home: it’s where my family and the bulk of my friends are, and it’s amazing to be able to drive for 10 minutes to see my boyfriend and not have to get frustrated I can’t have a cuddle on Skype, but I think I will be Berlin-sick for a little while to come. Thankfully I’m going back for the first weekend of February with friends from university who booked to come and visit long before I got offered my job. I need to pick up the other half of my stuff anyway, but I thought it was the perfec


Adorning my new desk with all things Berlin

t opportunity for one last injection of Berlin before I commit fully to the real world.

So now I just need to decide: to Berlingo, or not to Berlingo? By which I mean: shall I keep this blog going, or shall I quit whilst I’m not really ahead? I started this little space to map my adventure moving to Berlin, passing the CELTA and living in the German capital, in the hope that my experiences might later help someone in a similar situation.

Somehow, although I still don’t quite believe it myself, I have done all those things, so now I don’t know what to do. The blog has ‘Berlin’ in the title, but I now live in Surrey and work in Oxford, and I’m not sure it’s quite right. It’s a very small concern, but for someone who likes closure and hates leaving things unfinished, I need to make a final decision and stick with it…

So all thoughts are greatly appreciated!

About BerLingo

My name is Rachel, I am 25 and I love Germany. I studied German, Spanish and Italian at Durham University for four years, one of which I spent living in Europe, and then worked at Routledge academic publishing house for almost 3 years. Towards the end of 2014, I decided it was time to finally fulfil a long-held ambition to live in Berlin, and so in April 2015 I completed the CELTA qualification (Certificate in English Language Teaching to Adults, adminstered by Cambridge University) here in the German capital. Now qualified, my blog charts my experiences as a new English teacher in my favourite city... (More information about my plans can be found in my first ever blog post.)
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13 Responses to To Berlingo or not to Berlingo?

  1. punster30 says:

    You’re a writer Rachel, so you can’t stop blogging. Whether you create a new blog for your new experiences is your choice I guess, and I understand the need for closure. However, you should definitely continue writing about your work experiences as I’m sure many of us in the world of ELT teaching would like an insight into the publishing side of things.:-) Plus, you said this was your dream job. Berlin was your dream location and that led to some very interesting and inspiring posts on your blog. Perhaps this job will do the same…


    • BerLingo says:

      Hi Pete,
      Thanks so much for your very kind comment – I was overwhelmed with how many people wrote such nice things on this post 🙂
      I mulled it all over, and I decided that I find blogging a release, so I’d like to keep going. I think you’re being far too kind by describing me as a writer, but I have always enjoyed writing so I have decided to end Berlingo and have created
      Not the catchiest title, but the most grown up option out of all those I chose. Hopefully it might still interest a few people!
      Thanks again for your support; what an amazing community to be part of!!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I always think when blogging if you have something to say, say it. If not, leave. That said, will I continue my blog when we return from our RTW trip? Not sure now I have read your final words….. Will give it some thought whilst cruising through the Barrier Reef. Hope Oxford not too cold. 33c and 95 per cent humidity here today in Mission Beach.


    • BerLingo says:

      Thanks for your thoughts Mark 🙂 I’ve enjoyed reading your posts hugely – although I can’t read them all because them I’m overcome by an incredible desire to jack in everything and travel the world like you two!
      I took the plunge and decided to create a new blog, a bit about publishing and a bit about whatever takes my fancy so we’ll see how it goes!
      Weather here is about 15 degrees warmer than it was when I landed from Berlin last week, but it ain’t no Mission Beach!
      Hope you’re enjoying the Whitsundays!


  3. Joanna Malefaki says:

    Do you enjoy blogging? If you do, keep doing it. You can turn Berlingo into a page of a new blog like a chapter in your life. Good luck with your new job ☺❤ Joanna

    Liked by 1 person

    • BerLingo says:

      Thanks so much for your comment Joanna; it’s so incredible how much the comments of people you’ve never actually met can touch you!
      I mulled it all over for a while, but decided to bite the bullet and start a new blog since I’m no longer in Berlin…
      So I’m now and I hope I continue to enjoying blogging just as much as you seem to 🙂
      Thanks again for your support!


  4. Hi Rachel,
    I too definitely think you should keep blogging, but it does seem somehow right to bring Berlingo to a close and maybe start something new. As an English teacher with no idea what the publishing world looks like, and only one short trip to England 15 years ago under her belt, I’d love to hear more about your job, industry and home country! Looking forward to your next digital creation. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • BerLingo says:

      Thanks so much for your advice Sherri; your comment played over and over in my mind until I finally decided to be brave and do exactly what you said!
      I am no longer Berlingo18, but – perhaps some of those posts might shed some light on the publishing world and life in England 🙂
      Thanks again for the inspiration, and please send Berlin my love! x


  5. Good luck with the new job! 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    • BerLingo says:

      Thanks very much! Perhaps we’ll meet at the conference on the 20th 🙂
      I’ve also just followed everyone’s kind advice on this post and started a new blog, possibly to be about publishing things – we shall see!
      Hope you had a good weekend 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Pingback: New job, new blog | Publishing and Pontificating

  7. Pingback: Bye bye Berlingo. | BerLingo

  8. Pingback: New job, new blog | publishingandpondering

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