After the odyssey to finally arrive to Berlin, the next few day have been a breeze. I have learned a thing or two about layering to try to avoid looking like a refrigerator. I woke up the next day amidst my jet lag to go with Jonas to the university. This university is a big-time university. Everything high-tech in the middle of an old building. The contrast was amazing and the warmth inside was quite welcoming. In addition, the contrast to my own school is abysmal. I sat there for a couple of hours, not understanding a thing they were talking about. Not because they were speaking German but because they were talking about math.
When the lecture was over we went to KaDeWe (Kaufhaus Des Westens) which is a glorified Macy's, but more awesome, more floors, more stuff and everything was more expensive. My UGG boots, for example, cost here a cool 299€, while I paid $40 for them. Yeah. But I got to see some wonderful brands that I never get to see at home like Tom Ford... I admired their beautiful nail polishes from afar. My favorite floor was probably the one with all the food. Yeah, I have an obsession with food, a problem if you will. They have sections of every sort of edible thing you can imagine. Sausages were never ending. As we were walking around the champagne section, I get a really bad smell all of the sudden. I look up and there it was: cheese heaven. Yet my favorite part was looking at the Germans go through the American products section where a Betty Crocker cake mix box cost about 7€ and buy it as if it was exotic and amazing. And blue cheese dressing from Wishbone was a delicacy. Why would anybody buy that when for example I bought hazelnut honey from Cypress is beyond me.
The architecture in Berlin is also interesting to look at. But the part that I enjoy the most is people watching. Germans are known for staring so I saw no problem in staring back at the thousands of faces I came across. Everybody was from a different part of the world. Everybody had their own story and as I sat in the U-bahn, I couldn't help but wonder what their stories were and imagining the stories of the stuff they had on them. Like the tote bag this woman was wearing... when I take a peek inside I see a tin can decorated in a Christmas motif. I was pretty sure it was filled with cookies. Who were they for? Who made them? It was for me like wondering about the etymology of people.
Yesterday we went to Metro. This is like a glorified Costco, but better. You don't have to buy in bulk and things are generally cheaper here. Every time I go to these stores I can't help but think of my dad and think of how much he would enjoy looking at all the items in the store, looking at every brand, every % of trans fat. If my dad could only see one thing in Germany, I would take him here to Metro, and probably to KaDeWe too. I'm positive that he would spend the entire day in that store and never get tired.
Today I went to the flea market. I had been dreaming of this for months now. I love going to flea markets and finding small treasures. But today the snow was melting and all that was left was slush. Muddy slush from hell. On top of things I had forgotten to water proof my boots so I ended up having my feet get soaked plus with the cold it got to a point that I couldn't feel my toes anymore. It definitely made the day uncomfortable but I had a wonderful time there looking at some little shops with handmade stuff, others with stuff from China and others filled with utter junk. But one man's trash is another man's treasure and I had never understood the depth of this when I saw people calling themselves artists and looking for their own treasures among the piles of trash.
My days here in Berlin have gone by far too quickly. Every day that goes by I am more and more convinced that Germany is the place I want to one day call home. It feels like a dream to be here and I never want to wake up. I don't want to go back.
Another interesting happening was a party I was invited to. To this day I had never attended a party in Germany. Perhaps because I'm not really a party person. But this party was organized by one of the professors because he would be the DJ. I think he wanted to do a party for the sake of a party because the tickets cost only 1€ and all the drinks, beer, wine, liquor cost also 1€.
First of all I wanted to wear a dress to this thing. It was a party, was it not? Well, that's not how Germans go to party and more specifically, hipster Germans. You come as you are. Jeans are welcome, nobody really cares. But what I was more interested in was seeing how Germans dance. Germans in their natural habitat. After more than a few beers, the Germans finally get to the dance floor. What I saw there left me amazed, in shock and in wonder. Nobody can really dance, but everybody does so anyways and nobody really cares how you look like dancing. I was told by Mr.J that Germans only move their upper bodies and they can't move their feet at all. INDEED. Some of these Germans looked as if they were in the middle of a grand-mal seizure. I may have two left feet in Puerto Rico but here I was a dancing queen... no, a dancing goddess.
My highlight was not this though. I went to the bathroom once and there I met with a Spanish girl I had met before through the internet when Mr.J got himself a "buddy" or another international student paired up with a German so the German can show the international student the German way of life. I met her because before she left I had to warn her about Germany and their lack of applicators on their tampons. It was a small detail that makes SO much difference and I had to warn the poor girl of what await her. So today I finally met her face-to-face and she introduced me to another girl... a Cuban. It was wonderful to speak in Spanish again. Wonderful to have a language in common but now as we met in the bathroom I realized that we had much more in common than a language. "Oh my God, I am so fat" said the Cuban. "I need to lose weight!" I look at her in disbelief. She is skinny in my girl eyes and in her correct weight in my medical eyes. "What? You are crazy!" I say and the Spanish agrees. "I hate these mirrors!" the Cuban goes on "The beauty canon here in Europe is so different from back home!" I nod. "In Cuba they like the big hips, big ass and here it's the opposite!" I nod again. "Same in Puerto Rico, but look, you look great, and furthermore, here you are exotic! Forget it!". I smiled. No matter where we are, girls are the same. A sea may separate us, culture may separate us, but on the inside we are all insecure about our bodies, we all hate the mirrors and we all need that moment when another girl tells us we do in fact look ok, that our fat is really in our heads.