Roughly six months I have lived in Berlin, and I can honestly say I have loved every minute of it! The history, the nightlife, the food, the sports, and of course the beer! It has changed my life completely, and I couldn’t have done any of it without the help and support of my friends and family, particularly my mum Elaine and granda Alan! But I can’t help but feel like I am one of only a very few people doing something like this, and I will try to explain why…
When I look back home to Belfast, and all the rest of my friends throughout Britain and Ireland, I see everyone settling down and starting families at a young age. I will admit, I was almost one of them. At one point just a couple of years ago I had two brochures of engagement rings. Sadly that chapter of my life didn’t have quite the happy ending, but I think its safe to say that things did work out better for both myself and my ex in the long run.
But enough about the past, lets talk about the present and the future. I am now living in Berlin, a city I have always loved, working as a statistical analyst for the Eisbären Berlin, my dream job, and most recently I became a tour guide around the city, which is both a dream job and in my favourite city!
To say I am somewhat lucky to have found happiness in almost every aspect of life is an understatement. But it wasn’t until recently when I started re-watching the American sitcom ‘How I Met Your Mother’ on Netflix that I realised what a fantastic turn my life has taken. Someday about 30 years down the line, that will be me sitting my kids down and boring them to death with stories of what their dad got up to in his earlier years!
Stories like how interrailing back in the summer of 2014 opened my eyes to the many different cultures throughout Europe, altered my perceptions of people, and pretty much changed my entire life. Going to the London Olympic Opening Ceremony in 2012. Visiting Normandy in northern France and listening to stories from someone who was there on D-Day. Winning two Elite League championships with my hometown team. Sitting in the press box at Boston’s TD Garden for last years Beanpot final.
Then there’s the more recent events like somehow landing an interview with the Eisbaren within 10 days of touching down at Schonefeld Airport. Getting to wear Uwe Krupp’s 1996 Colorado Avalanche Stanley Cup championship ring. Watching the Super Bowl on the jumbotron at Mercedes Benz Arena. And the endless evenings hanging out with friends; wether its in a cool bar, coffee shop, or a nightclub, my life is pretty much like living in a tv show now!
And of course I can’t forget the more interesting stories like ‘the kebab incident’, kicking a polizei car, missing the last train home and staying in the club until 5am when they start up again, and the chipped tooth (which my mother will only be discovering as she reads this… sorry mum!)
There is one thing that I have noticed in my brief 6 months living here, and that is that the British and Irish as a whole are probably the least travelled in the world. Yes, we do travel a lot in terms of city breaks and trips to Magaluf, but the rest of the world actually travel a lot more extensively. There are a lot of people who simply spend a few months in a new city, renting a small room, getting a shitty job to pay rent. They generally just have fun, and after a while they simply pack their bags and move on to another new city in another new country for another couple of months. I have met so many people who do this, and I can’t lie, I’m thinking of possibly doing it as well at some point in the future.
My point is that everyone back home now-a-days is so driven on finding a career and buying a house, getting married and having kids, and it all has to be done some time in your mid-20’s so you can ‘relax’ and cruise to the finish line. What I don’t understand though is that everyone loves some surprise and suspense in their lives. TV shows, movies, books, sports… they all have some unpredictable moments, twists and endings, and that why we love them. Put it this way: If your football team done all the work in the first 25 minutes of the game and then just cruised to victory at the final whistle, would that still be interesting enough to keep you a fan game after game, year after year? Probably not, so why should life itself be any different?
Now I understand some people won’t agree with what I’ve said. Travelling, experiencing new cultures and getting out of your comfort zone isn’t for everyone. But it is what most people crave in life. New experiences, meeting new people, learning new languages, living new lives.
I will leave you with one final thought. It was something my former boss told me moments after I informed him I was quitting my job and moving abroad. It was surprisingly meaningful, and I remembered every word he said:
There are 7.4 billion people on this earth. Billion, with a B! And most people live their entire lives within a 25 mile radius of where they were born and raised. They go to school, get a job, make friends, and even find the love of their life, all within a 10 minute drive of where you grew up.
Even if you believe in the statement that someone is one in a million, that still leaves seven and a half thousand people out there for you, and in my honest opinion, you’d be damn well lucky to find them all in your home town.