It has officially been one month since I arrived in Berlin to start a new adventure that I had been longing for quite some time. My search for a place where I could better “fit in” and not feel such an outsider brought me to one of the most culturally diverse cities in Europe. In German, Berlin is better explained as “Multi-Kulti”, clipped from the longer word “Multikulturalismus”, literally meaning multiculturalism. There are so many people from various backgrounds, that I believe Berlin is home to at least one person from every city in the world. Berlin is also home to both people who belong, and outsiders like me. And the best thing is, we all live in harmony and don’t mind the diversity – literally tolerance toward various cultures is sky-high.
I love my hometown Prishtina, don’t get me wrong, but I just never felt like myself there. I was never fully appreciated and always felt some sort of barrier that prevented me from being my own person. People who know me closely know that I was never happy in Kosovo. I agree with the phrase “home is where the family is”, but what does that do to one, who still doesn’t feel whole? I love my family to death, and they are more valuable to me than anything in the world, but still I didn’t have that feeling of “home”. I had the feeling of “comfortable” and “safe”, but not “home”. Maybe this is because of the “five-year cycle” of my life where every 5 years I either changed countries, or houses and neighborhoods. This last change took me about 7 years, but still, a change nonetheless. I have never lived in one house or apartment for more than five-seven years. But, since I am overanalyzing my past, I didn’t mind these changes. I was okay with everything, and in most cases intrigued with what novelties these lifestyle changes would bring. What I wasn’t okay with was Kosovo.
Maybe I’ll dwell on why Kosovo was so unfulfilling in another post in the future, because I can see that I am already too caught up in that sad and melancholic mood. I’m in BERLIN! And sometimes I still can’t believe it.
Now back to Berlin…
What brought me to Berlin, other than wanting to live a different life, was continuing my studies. One of the reasons I chose Germany was, well, free tuition. I mean top schools in the world and I wouldn’t pay 30,000-40,000 a year? Who wouldn’t want something so grand?
My family’s money situation is what you call “comfortable”, but it wasn’t enough to support my hobbies, dreams and aspirations. I started a whole “Friendship Bracelet” business in high-school with one ball of yarn, that my mom bought for me in primary school for an art project. One ball of yarn in Kosovo costs anywhere from 30cents to 3 euros for the fancy ones that had sparkles in them. I saved this ball of yarn, and taught myself how to make friendship bracelets by watching youtube videos. My “friends” (not really friends, obviously), for whatever reason, didn’t want to teach me when I asked them. So I took matters into my own hands. I started selling my bracelets, and soon had an inventory of about 50-70 colors of yarn and other types of string to make various designs. I even taught myself to read patterns, not follow videos anymore, to the point where I could make my own patterns in no time. I had almost “perfected” the art of making friendship bracelet by hand, having bought all tools and inventory myself, starting from the first ball of yarn that my mom bought for me, which cost 50cents. Now this whole unnecessary story is to bring your attention that my family could invest 50cents in my hobby, and that if I wanted more, I was supposed to somehow come up with the means to expand my hobby on my own. So, yes, money played a huge role in my choosing Germany for my master’s studies. I couldn’t just choose a place on the map and go to. I am confident that I would get accepted to at least one ivy-league college because I worked hard to enrich my CV with various experiences, worked hard towards my goal and had even contacted many universities. But again, even if I had been accepted, I could never afford them.
Besides the money issue, I also chose Berlin because, well, the idea of BERLIN is so grand. It’s so different from other cities, and it has its own identity. You can have only one Berlin, one Paris, one Tokyo. I wanted to be part of something that is so diverse, but at the same time known for its diversity and taken as a whole, if you know what I mean. And when I arrived here, everything was so vibrant and chaotic, and I LOVED it. I hope I will be able to do Berlin justice and describe it better in the future, because for this past month I have just been in a state of “jaw-drop” for the entire time.
Besides Berlin being, well, Berlin, I also was drawn to it by the idea that I could be accepted at one of the most prestigious universities in Germany, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin. This university is the oldest in Berlin, where Albert Einstein used to teach. This fact blew me away when I read it, as in Kosovo we learn about these grand figures in history but never fully grasp that they actually walked this Earth. Berliners have told me that they consider this university to be the “Harvard” of Germany. While I agree, there is only one Harvard, I am nonetheless quite proud to be part of Humboldt. I applied to another university which also sent me a letter of admission, but Humboldt was my first choice. If I got accepted at this university, it was the real deal! And after a whole lot of time, I finally got accepted.
I was with my mother, grandmother and sister when I received the email. While that day was a bit hard for us emotionally as a family, I could not but help and cry at what had happened. After a horrible year, an incredible breakthrough had just slapped me in the face, but politely. I still remember my grandmother struggling to fathom my happiness under all my tears. “Oh how happy you are!” (Oh sa shumë je gëzu! – it’s much sweeter in Albanian) she said with tears in her eyes as well. I couldn’t believe what was happening to me. After having one attempt to seek a similar adventure in the past being abolished (yeah, visa, pretty sure some of you guessed that), I was so astonished by the unexpected shift my life was about to take.
So yeah that is more or less the story hahah. I mean this post is titled “Hi Berlin”, because I came here and I am introducing my story to the world. Berlin is the starting point.
I will be writing some more posts about specific things, such as my application to the university, my first experience traveling alone, about my university, about Berlin and generally more about my life right now. I am more confident than ever before, so brace yourself for a more improved Vesa.
For my OG first day readers that have supported me and stood by me through my long periods of absence, you know the drill…
Love and pancakes,