You know the phrase: ‘be careful what you wish for’? Well, on my study abroad program I definitely learned that it’s one very true statement. Before coming to Berlin when people asked me why I chose Berlin and why I decided to go study abroad, I always answered the same thing: I want to grow, I want to learn, I don’t want to be dependent on my parents, I want to not live somewhere where I am so incredibly comfortable, and most importantly, I want to get out of my comfort zone. On our departure meeting at school in Vancouver, the Study Abroad counselor was telling us that we are going to find ourselves in very uncomfortable situations some times and to ask ourselves why we chose to study abroad. I remember that I looked at another student that was going to Berlin with me and we both laughed as if that would never happen to us; what could possibly go wrong in Berlin?
Well, I have now been here for 6 weeks and the first 5 weeks was probably the hardest I have ever experienced in my life.
However, the strange thing is, I loved every single minute of it. Why, you may ask? Because I finally resolved every single issue that came my way by myself, and there were a lot of issues that a 400 word blog wouldn’t even cover a small portion of it.
The culture shock: people here don’t smile much, or say sorry, or hold doors for you as Canadians do. They’re upfront and blunt, and I’m starting to really appreciate that. For 3 weeks I didn’t have a place of my own and had to move from couches to couches, as it’s very difficult to find a place in Berlin. It was cold and I had to take my luggage to school and around town because I had no idea where I would sleep. But having said all that, the liveliness of this city, the generosity of most people I met, the immeasurable amount of things to do here, and the limitless amount of cafes, bars, museums, and restaurants to try make it all worth what I went through.
The truth is I finally received what I always wanted: I learned, I grew, I tackled my problems without anyone’s help, and I’m finally independent. At this point, I am so incredibly happy that I did this, and I advise every student to have this experience, you will finally realize what kind of a person you truly are: your patience, your strength, your attitude towards problems, and most importantly, your appreciation for the things you have. This city, I don’t know how I’m ever going to leave, the beautiful city of Berlin!
By: Roya Firoozbakhsh, winner of the Stories from Abroad: British Columbia Study Abroad Scholarship