Clinton Shard: Berlin - A Feeling of Home

Well before I started university, I knew that I wanted to study abroad and I was certain that it had to be in Germany. Now here I am, living in Berlin, Germany over 4 years after I first made that promise to myself.

I arrived in Berlin after 28+ hours of travelling (thanks to a 10 hour delay in Stockholm), however I arrived with a sense of excitement of what was to come. Although, I must admit I was nervous as well since I had yet to find permanent accommodation for my entire stay in Berlin and over the next days I set up meetings to find roommates to live with. This process was by far the most nerve-racking part of my study abroad experience thus far, since there are many students in Berlin and only so many apartments available. Armed with my grasp of the German language and my [charming] people skills, I found an apartment 5 days after my arrival.

However before I could legally call Berlin home, I had to register myself at the local foreigners office; which is lovingly called the “Bürgeramt“ in German. The Bürgeramt is German bureaucracy in a nutshell; difficult at times to navigate and questionably counter-intuitive. I was able to get help with the complicated form from two German friends, however even they had some difficulty understanding what to fill in (Bear in mind that even Germans moving to a new residence have to fill out this form as well). In addition, generally the administration only speaks German, which made me thankful for the time I had put into learning German back in Canada. After over 3 hours of waiting, I had a rather unimpressive piece of paper with a nice stamp and signature on it. At least I am legal!

Before arriving in Germany, I told myself to keep an open mind and to leave everything I know about Canada in the back of my mind. Ever since I was young, I always had a feeling that I “belonged” in Germany. It is a feeling I can’t exactly explain – it is just how I feel.

After 2 months of living in Berlin, I can already tell that these 6 months are going to be short and that every day counts. Each day is a new discovery; whether it is exploring my new city, meeting new friends from around the world or discovering something new about myself that I never realized was there.

Studying abroad is truly an empowering experience and it depends on each individual on what they want to make of it. There are things that you can’t change or bad experiences that happen - trust me, they happen: even when you are sitting down enjoying the best chicken you have ever eaten in your entire life…but that is a blog entry for another time - but it is how we deal with those issues and changes that dictate whether or not we take the opportunity to grow as a person. However, remember: “There is nothing that a döner and a beer can’t fix“ – a philosphy that most Berliners and expats alike share.

“A comfort zone is a beautiful place, but nothing ever grows there – Unknown.”

I look forward to travelling outside of Germany in the coming weeks and months, but for now, Berlin feels just like home.

Keep pushing the limits my friends!


Clinton is a third year bachelor of business administration student studying abroad at SRH Berlin in Berlin, Germany. 


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