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.
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
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!