Let’s Keep it Real – Berlin, Expat Life and Bureaucracy

Oh hey. I’ve done a LOT of reviews so I feel the need to actually put my thoughts and feelings on this blog again in between talking about some more awesome things I’m eating. In fact, it’s kind of a goal to blog a bit more about the Thoughts and The Feels in general.

As cleverly stated by the ladies over at Vegan MoFo, blogging has gotten more and more corporate. As someone who started blogging via LiveJournal way back when I was 16, I’m kinda missing the real raw feeling that used to be out there. Bring The Feels back to the internet! I still love all the awesome food I find via blogging, but lately I feel like the internet is awash with “10 Way to Do X Better” or “20 Ways to Be Fitter”, etc. posts and it’s getting to be a bit of sensory overload for me.

I’m all for self-improvement, but I don’t want to be badgered with it constantly. I’m also kinda tired of others telling me how to improve. Authority complex or not, I need to shut out all those voices for a bit and just do my thing.

Rant aside, a couple days ago was my Berlin-aversary. I have been in this city for over four years. If you went back to the me of 6 years ago and told me I’d be moving to Germany I wouldn’t have believed you.

“What’s in Germany!?” I would have said. I had no idea Berlin was ‘cool’. All I knew about Germany was lederhosen, Oktoberfest and, well, Hitler. There may have been something about World War II from Social Studies class in high school. It wasn’t really on my radar.

Now I’m eligible to apply for my permanent residence here in a bit over a year. Life is crazy, man. You really never know where you’ll end up!

I came here as a somewhat party-obsessed 24-year old recovering from overachiever burnout from high school and college. Now I’ve become a  bit of a grandma, moved to my own flat out of the hip areas of the city and have changed over to favoring things like quiet, nature and wine that neither comes out of a box nor is the cheapest on the shelf. I can’t remember the last time I’ve been in a club. Is this #adulthood?!

More so, what does it mean to be an expat? I am still pondering this all the time. I think living outside of my own country has actually made me feel more American. Yet when I go home I don’t totally fit in either. Will I ever fit in like a good German? Does it even matter?

It’s been a bit of a rocky couple years in Berlin, where I had to learn about lots of grown up things like insurance, German and American taxes, health insurance, retirement funds and other such complexities. All in preparation for my hopefully eventual permanent residence.

I think it almost killed me.

I can tell you one thing, my six years of going back and forth between the US and Europe, not permanently living anywhere too long, involved way less paperwork. Making yourself a home base and growing roots actually comes with a lot of official processes, who knew!

I’ve been exhausted and hermiting since my big roadtrip across the US. I came back from that trip to immediately start a flatsearch that lasted three months (it’s tough in Berlin) and fight my way through another immigration office visit to get my work permit renewed and opened up (I can do any type of job now, yahoo!), then moving and setting up a new place (re: buying all the furniture and getting it up allllll the four flights of steps!) and eventually slowly learning about the German health system and getting all my doctors visits in for the first time in four years. Add in all the normal life stuff that goes on and…whew.

I also recently found out I am deficient in vitamin B12. I feel like a vegan stereotype, ugh. I let down the team! Has this happened to any of you?! Am I all alone?! I can say I didn’t regularly take any supplements over the years and with life getting so busy and business trips, etc. I haven’t been eating as well as I used to either. I guess it’s a wake up call! On the bright side, besides the B12 I am fit as a fiddle and the B12 is fixable.

I think I am finally coming out of the other side of most of the bureaucracy for now. It was a steep learning curve. I like Germany, but there is a lot of paperwork involved.

I’m finally also going on my first vacation, to Croatia and Bosnia, that won’t involve any working whatsoever…in years. I think I won’t even bring my laptop. Just the thought of that makes me nervous. I am so excited to read books and ignore my email inbox for some days.

A quick summary of what I’ve been up to for the last six months! Most notably and very delayed:

Vida Vegan Con

I attended my first and the final Vida Vegan Con in Austin, Texas! It was so rad and super inspiring to be around so many vegan bloggers. I am already super sad it was the last. I’ve been super inspired to network with more vegans since then. Hey European vegan bloggers, we gotta start something like this on our continent!

I stayed in a fancy AirBnB trailer with the lovely Joni from Just the Food, Jackie from Vegan Yack Attack, Sayward from Bonzai Aphrodite and Caroline from Vegansaurus. These ladies are hella rad and I’m convinced I had the best roomies at VVC. Our Trendy Trailer (direct link here, use this link when signing up to AirBnB for $25/€23 credit for your trip!) was a win and we managed to cram all 5 of us in this stylist trailer relatively successfully. It even came with a cat! Or well, a neighborhood cat befriended us, whom we named Tacquito. I also ate a lot. So much. Those vegan chickn and waffles tho…

 Collards and Kale Balcony

I then came home and grew these collards and kale in my window boxes. I was super excited but then it got really hot in Berlin and they all shriveled up and died except for the one kale plant I had inside! Oh no! I thought I had a green thumb but apparently not! I’ll try again once the heat wave is over!

Thai Park berlin Kanom Krok

I also worked my summer job at an American study abroad program here in Berlin. On one of our excursions I FINALLY went to Thai Park in Preußenpark, which is where a lot of the Thai population likes to hang out every day when the weather is good. People just cook food, lay it all out on blankets and cooking in big saucepans and sell it all. It’s pretty informal and amazing and delicious and very Berlin. It’s a bit of a language adventure to figure out what’s vegan, but I scored this Kranom Krok, made from coconut milk fried up with a coconutty sweet pudding in the middle with scallions. It was crazy interesting and good. I was so full when I went so I need to go back with an empty stomach!

That’s it for now. How are all of you? What do you think of the direction blogging has gone in? Anyone else sensory overloaded by the internet lately?!

Some more yummy things to review and eventual documentation of my Croatia and Bosnia trip to come!

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  1. Sounds like you needed to eat your greens faster! I know that kale, collard greens, etc don’t do well in summer heat, and at my CSA we don’t get any greens during the summer months. Though, I wonder how they get them to grow in fall? Plant the seeds in the summer?

    I have to agree that blogging has gotten too corporate. I think my favorite ones are kind-of inbetween, nice design, decent photos, clear entries, but aren’t all about selling stuff. I am a little guilty since I am super organized and my website stylings have always been kind-of polished. I am always thinking “if someone googled this, would this link be helpful?” I can never help but think this way! XD

    onesonicbite / Reply
    • I thought they’d be okay because Berlin summers are usually not so hot! Kicking myself for not picking all the leaves before the height of the heat wave! Ah well, lesson learned!

      Thanks for popping by with your thoughts. I agree, something in between is nice. Nothing wrong with a polished website! Sometimes I get really frustrated when blogs don’t have a recipe index, etc. just because it makes it so hard to read back through posts, nothing wrong with a bit of organization!

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