7 February 2012

Berlin: The Land of Transience

One of the things that has become perfectly clear to me in the two months that I've been in Berlin is how Berlin is pretty much a temporary place for many people here, and for most of the people that I meet.

Being an ex-pat, you meet a lot of other ex-pats, and one of the first questions that gets bandied around is "how long are you here for."  For some it's a few days, others a few weeks, and still others have been here for years and are still not really Berliners.  But, truth be told, there aren't very many real Berliners in Berlin (besides the donut, but they're not called Berliners....they're Pfannkuchen).

Berlin is a rather odd European capital.  Someone told me when I'd just gotten here that it's the only European capital that had a worse economy than the rest of the country.  Berlin is poor.  And not like Toronto which boasts quite a wealthy populace.  Berlin's populace is poor.  And because the populace is poor, the cost of living is low, which keeps the salaries low.  And yet, foreigners and Germans keep coming to Berlin, and leaving again. 

It's this lack of permanence here that really strikes me.  My friends in Toronto are settling down and buying property and having kids, and getting long-term jobs.  The friends that I've met here are in a completely different space, whether they're 25, or 45.  Everything is transitory, and people are constantly looking for a place to live for the next little while because the last short-term rental ran out.  It's a strange feeling to know that friends that you make one week more than likely will be gone soon.  Or you'll be gone soon. 

Just some thoughts on a cold Tuesday night.

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