Blog Archive

Sunday, 8 June 2008

Eight Months On


Oh, the truth in the saying,

'Where one door closes, a window is opened.'

This freeing, inspiring, thoughtful, motivating, exciting, educational, beautiful, memorable Erasmus year is coming to an end. Tomorrow I fly to Oslo to start the journey to the Arctic with WWF (read more here) and if I am honest, my head has already left Berlin.

I've been reading, learning, thinking and writing so much about Climate Change and my future activities that I have let slide my previous hopes of visiting every museum in the city, seeing more of the state of Brandenburg and all the other plans I had on my 'to-do list'.

But Berlin has found a special place in my heart. I have grown so much here, and I am so thankful for the friendships, opportunities and fun that I have had here.

So if my head has left, my heart remains.

In the sunshine-filled parks where everyone mingles happily, in the street art which make cycling and walking exciting, in the stress-free atmosphere and the delicious cake.

If you ever go to this marvelous city - send me a postcard?

Thanks all for reading,


Friday, 16 May 2008

Last Day

Today is my last day of a three-month internship for

It has been a very mixed experience. I have learnt a tremendous amount about the web 2.0 world (the future of the internet), found a host of new blogs which I am following, and realised some hard lessons about my own working style.

Although I did sometimes struggle with working for a tabloid that many see as xenophobic, homophobic and sexist (a lot of my friends were deeply surprised that I of all people would work for such a company), but then again, it has taught me much.

The way teams function, the role of management - but more than anything - that I am an utterly hopeless employee if I'm not passionate about something. And that corporate life is not for me.

This was made all the more obvious when I found out about my voyage to the Arctic. With such an exciting, important experience coming up - my mind was totally focused on how I was going to use it to combat climate change - and I found doing research projects about navigation systems on newspaper websites a real struggle!

I'm glad I've had this experience, and I think I've managed to bring something to my colleagues and bosses (a little bit of laughter at least!), but I am also glad that its over.

I can now move forward, knowing what I want to do - and figuring out how I'm going to do it.

Friday, 2 May 2008

May 1st

Berlin loves May 1st.

As Labour Day, the old GDR used it as an opportunity to put on the big parades, and celebrate the victory of Socialism.

Well, after singing Chaka Khan's 'Ain't nobody' at choir yesterday, a few of us went to the street party around the corner - the traditional MeiFest (now renamed MyFest to keep up with the 21st century).

After wondering past the various music stands (one changing from Fat Boy Slim's 'Praise You' to some kind of punk/brass mix with 10 German Turks playing their instruments as if on speed), we saw the HUGE numbers of police.

Shipped in from all over the country, they stood in position, like a Roman army. It looked extremely aggressive. In full riot gear, with (what looked like teargas, but turned out to be fire extinguisher) on their backs, batons, helmets - the lot.

No wonder there was trouble.

By standing there in such large numbers, they were practically inviting confrontation.

My friends and I approached one of them and put this to him. What followed was a 30 minute conversation about the nature of policing, and ended with him sharing some of his gum - and countless others walking up to other police and asking questions. It looked like some sort of hustings at one point!

Wednesday, 23 April 2008

Sauerkraut and Mandelhörnchen

I just nipped downstairs to the large deli in our office building, to get me the tastiest version of the yummiest German baked good - the undefeatable, utterly delicious, king of bakery items - the Mandelhörnchen.

To make this little adventure even more German, guess what smell drifted up my nostrils as I came down the stairs...Priceless.

Monday, 21 April 2008

Karl Marx

I had to rush home in my lunch hour to pick up my passport.

No, no, not to jet off for the afternoon (who wants to sit in a metal sausage anyway?!), I was just helping complete the German love for bureaucracy.

What struck me was how many places I recognised seeing from the film 'Das Leben der Anderen' which I saw last night. Especially the Karl Marx book shop on a street which also bares his name. I pass this at least four times a day - and for the first time, I went in.

Not a life changing experience, but nice nonetheless!

Monday, 14 April 2008

Arctic Adventure

Over the past weekends I’ve had some wonderful friends to visit, and have walked around the city as I did when I first arrived here. The wonderful thing is, that you look at your everyday surroundings with new eyes, notice what people wear, the fact the train line runs through the centre of the city, and that the roads are so wide and quiet! And each visitor brings his or her own view of the city.

It also reminds me why I love Berlin.

As I look at people, I feel that just about everyone is someone I’d like to be friends with. That’s not something I’ve had in many places! You overhear conversations about politics in the hairdressers, impromptu late-night U-Bahn jokes amongst strangers, and restaurant tables mixing as if they were life-long friends. There’s an attitude in this city that takes getting used to – but when you do, you wouldn’t want to change back.

Elsewhere in my life, this week I found out that I have been accepted onto WWF’s Voyage for the Future program, as one of two young people representing the UK. The ship is going to the Arctic for ten days with climatologists and experts in how to communicate climate change. I’m going to learn about the science of climate change, help take scientific measurements and witness the supreme beauty of the Arctic. Easy to understand then, why I can’t wait to go!

If you’d like to follow my voyage to the Arctic, my time there, and the campaigning journey afterwards – check out my blog

Wednesday, 2 April 2008

Summertime...and the livin' is easy

It finally feels like summer is here.

Because of the leap through time this weekend and huddles of wooden tables appearing outside café’s it really seems like winter is over. And about time. The novelty of arriving at work looking like a snowman and drying myself with toilet paper wore off pretty quickly after the second time - all because there were strikes on trams, busses, u-bahn, s-bahn, trains AND airport workers.*

It is great to see the city changing around me. After a short Easter holiday, I returned to find the Dom with multiple gold globes adorning the four corners – and the central cross is being reinstated this week.

It’s significant because during the Soviet era, all crosses were taken off churches to reduce the cities’ overt symbols of religiosity. Ironically, with the building of the famous TV tower, and the way the sun reflects on the central sphere at sunrise and sunset, a golden cross appears on the tallest of all the East’s buildings! (I learned that on a walking tour. Where I pretended to be a tourist. Which I'm not.)

* that’s not to say that I need an airport to get to work.