The things you do if you’ve lived in Berlin too long

Thousands of foreigners arrive in Berlin every year. While most leave for pastures new after a year or two, others stay for longer. But be warned: the German capital can change you in strange and unexpected ways.

The things you do if you’ve lived in Berlin too long
"Ehm, where is the nearest U-Bahn?" Photo: DPA

Not bat an eye lid at public sex

If you’ve been through more than a few summers in Berlin, chances are you have happened upon sweaty naked people in the throes of coitus in some half-secluded spot.

Perhaps the lovebirds were trying out several positions in an exposed field while children played football nearby. Perhaps they had chosen a dark corner of a techno club to release their lust. What's certain though is that if you hear an American tourist telling her friend in shocked tones about a threesome she stumbled across in the Grünewald, you’ll just raise an eyebrow and think “tell me something new.”

Have a soft spot in your heart for Alexa

When Alexa mall was first unveiled ten years ago you were too aghast at the audacity of erecting a windowless maroon bunker in the centre of the city.

But after hearing years of criticism of the charmless bulk you've developed a strange feeling of protectiveness akin to that of a mother for the awkward kid at school. You've still never actually been inside though.

Photo: DPA

Slowly move ever further away from Berghain

Your first apartment was just a three-week stopgap in Wedding, but you knew you wanted to be where the action was. So you were delighted when you convinced a trendy WG in Friedrichshain to give you their spare room. On your first weekend you all went to Berghain (no worries – your new flatmate knew one of the bouncers (okay, he knew someone who knew one of the bouncers… and you had to queue for two hours)).

That was several years ago, though. Ever since you started to develop a twitch in your right eye, you’ve slowly moved further away from the bass-filled nightclub. Now settled into a nice bougie part of Schöneberg, your hand starts to tremble if anyone so much as mentions the word U1 on a Friday night.

Start to actually care about Hertha BSC

Photo: DPA

In your first year in Berlin you pretended that you had never been interested in football. “Boring,” you said, as you discreetly hid your Arsenal shirt at the bottom of your chest of draws. But as the years wore on you couldn’t help having the odd sneaky look at a match. About two years ago you went to your first Hertha game and noticed that they do actually have fans somewhere in the city. You’re a fully paid up ultra now.

Start to sweat if a waiter smiles at you

You have become so accustomed to unfriendly service that you you have forgotten what small talk is. On the rare occasions when you make it out of Berlin to another city you start breaking out in sweats when a waiter strikes up conversation with you. Is this some cunning trick to cheat you out of money?

READ ALSO: 8 ways living in Germany will change you for good

Head for the hills when May 1st comes round

It’s already planned out months in advance. You put your apartment on AirBnB for two days on either side of the May festivities as soon as in January. A friend of yours has offered you a house with no electricity in a forest deep inside the Czech Republic.

Areas of the city like Kreuzberg’s Lausitzerplatz are best avoided at all times between May and October anyway. If for whatever reason you do end up in Berlin on May 1st, you believe it to be sound advice to lock yourself inside your apartment. You also forget to charge your phone the evening before to ensure that no one can emotionally blackmail you into heading for Kreuzberg “just for an hour or two.”

Scowl at anybody who asks for a Brötchen at the bakery

Naturally you avoid anywhere in the city where you are likely to be confronted by a gaggle of fresh-off-the boat Americans breezily ordering their meals in English. But these days you’ve noticed you even get irritated when you hear some west German asking for Brötchen at the baker. When it’s your turn you order zwei Schrippen and grimace at the woman behind the counter before going about your day.

Think about buying a farm in Brandenburg

Even at times these days Schöneberg seems a bit too bustling for you. You idly swipe through offers on immobilienscout to see if you can buy the farm house of your dreams for under €20k in the backwaters of Brandenburg. When you come across a beautiful but distinctly roofless Hof, you curse yourself for having spent the last decade working at a magazine rather than learning how to use your hands.

Photo: DPA

Moan when you hear that beer costs €3

You have become so used to paying €1.80 for ein Halbes vom Faß in your local Kneipe that anything above €2 seems rather excessive. When someone suggests going to a beer garden that you’ve already mentally noted has beer for over €3 you protest in the most vehement terms at the extortionate pricing.

You've started researching tattoo removal procedures

No regrets. This isn’t about regrets. It’s just that now that you actually have a job with a monthly salary and a shirt and tie and all that, it might not come across so well at meetings. And, looking back on it, maybe you wouldn't get the Sternburg logo inked onto your arm if you could do it all again.

View vegetarians as animal enslavers

The one part of your early Berlin fundamentalism that stuck was the veganism. Perhaps it is the industrial amount of MDMA you poured down your throat during the Berghain days, but you've had an almost compulsive need to purify your body ever since. Even vegetarians are somewhat suspect to you – isn’t eating eggs a type of infanticide, after all?

SEE ALSO: 'How living in Berlin has changed me for life'

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Living in Germany: Battles over Bürgergeld, rolling the ‘die’ and carnival lingo

From the push to reform long-term unemployment benefits to the lingo you need to know as Carnival season kicks off, we look at the highlights of life in Germany.

Living in Germany: Battles over Bürgergeld, rolling the 'die' and carnival lingo

Deadlock looms as debates over Bürgergeld heat up 

Following a vote in the Bundestag on Thursday, the government’s planned reforms to long-term unemployment benefits are one step closer to becoming reality. Replacing the controversial Hartz IV system, Bürgergeld (or Citizens’ Allowance) is intended to be a fair bit easier on claimants.

Not only will the monthly payment be raised from €449 to €502, but jobseekers will also be given a grace period of two years before checks are carried out on the size of their apartment or savings of up to €60,000. The system will also move away from sanctions with a so-called “trust period” of six months, during which benefits won’t be docked at all – except in very extreme circumstances. 

Speaking in parliament, Labour Minister Hubertus Heil (SPD) said the spirit of the new system was “solidarity, trust and encouragement” and praised the fact that Bürgergeld would help people get back into the job market with funding for training and education. But not everyone is happy about the changes. In particular, politicians from the opposition CDU/CSU parties have responded with outrage at the move away from sanctions.

CDU leader Friedrich Merz has even branded the system a step towards “unconditional Basic Income” and argued that nobody will be incentivised to return to work. 

The CDU and CSU are now threatening to block the Bürgergeld legislation when it’s put to a vote in the Bundesrat on Monday. With the conservatives controlling most of the federal states – and thus most of the seats in the upper house – things could get interesting. Be sure to keep an eye out for our coverage in the coming weeks to see how the saga unfolds. 

Tweet of the week

When you first start learning German, picking the right article to use can truly be a roll of the “die” – so we’re entirely on board with this slightly unconventional way to decide whether you’re in a “der”, “die”, or “das” situation. (Warning: this may not improve your German.) 

Where is this?

Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Boris Roessler

Residents of Frankfurt am Main and the surrounding area will no doubt recognise this as the charming town of Kronberg, which is nestled at the foot of the Taunus mountains.

This atmospheric scene was snapped on Friday morning, when a drop in temperatures saw Kronberg and surrounding forests shrouded in autumnal fog.

After a decidedly warm start to November, the mercury is expected to drop into single digits over the weekend. 

Did you know?

November 11th marked the start of carnival season in Germany. But did you know that there’s a whole set of lingo to go along with the tradition? And it all depends on where you are. First of all, the celebration isn’t called the same thing everywhere. In the Rhineland, it’s usually called Karneval, while people in Bavaria or Saxony tend to call it Fasching. Those in Hesse and Saarland usually call it Fastnacht. 

And depending on where you are, there are different things to shout. The ‘fools call’ you’ll hear in Cologne is “Alaaf!” If you move away from Cologne, you’ll hear “Helau!” This is the traditional cry in the carnival strongholds of Düsseldorf and Mainz, as well as in some other German cities.

In the Swabian-Alemannic language region in the southwest of the country, people yell “Narri-Narro”, which means “I’m a fool, you’re a fool”. In Saarland at the French border, they shout “Alleh hopp!”, which is said to originate from the French language. 

Lastly, if someone offers you a Fastnachtskrapfe, say yes because it’s a jelly-filled carnival donut. And if you’re offered a Bützchen? It’s your call, but know that it’s a little kiss given to strangers!