Updated: Sep 27, 2019
By Daniel Bliss, 2017 Nomaden Participant
Whoever said New York is the city that never sleeps has apparently never been to Berlin. Berlin has a heartbeat that never stops racing, a pulse that follows the techno music blasting from its legendary nightclubs, and wide-eyed expats fill nearly every corner of the city. Nomaden Berlin took me to the amazing city of Berlin and allowed me to have some of the most unique experiences of my entire life.
I didn’t ask many questions when I first signed up to move to Berlin. I became part of the program, bought a plane ticket, and by the end of that month, I was leaving the US for Germany. My decision didn’t feel real until I landed at Berlin’s strange little airport. I was severely in need of a coffee, and the outdated terminal that looked straight out of the USSR made me question what Berlin was like. I was so nervous that I took the wrong person’s luggage at baggage claim, and didn’t notice until I almost walked out. Once I collected myself enough to find the right bags, I went out into the arrivals area and found a man holding a sign above his head with my last name on it. He looked like he didn’t want to be there, but after he introduced himself, it quickly became obvious how friendly he was. He led me to the apartment Nomaden Berlin had rented for my first month in the city. The place was fantastic, it was an older building in a great section of the city and had everything I needed to start my journey in Berlin.
I finally put some coffee in my body and walked around the streets that surrounded the apartment. Even walking alone, I could tell there was something different about Berlin, but I couldn’t quite figure out what it was. When I was finally able to find my way back to the apartment, I laid down and fell asleep for eighteen straight hours. The next morning, I woke up to two Australians in my kitchen; I could barely understand anything they said, but they seemed friendly enough. Little did I know one of them would become my longtime roommate in Berlin and someone that I shared many of my best Berlin memories. Over the course of the next few days, everyone else for my program arrived in Berlin, and we were also introduced to Nomaden participants from previous months. I had never met a group that was so welcoming. The group consisted of people from all over the world, and we quickly made ourselves into a small international sort of family.
The first month in Berlin was a whirlwind. We spent the first two weeks taking an intensive German language class, and Lana helped us sort through the German bureaucracy of getting set up in Berlin. We took various day trips in and around the city along with enjoying the wild nightlife Berlin is famous for. In that first month alone I was pushed out of my comfort zone more times than I could count and I loved it. We explored the clubs, the karaoke bars, German culture, and everything else about Berlin life. The second month, I lived with a German who gave me various tips and tricks on how to stay at one club for 96 hours straight; I never took him up on the invite, but I appreciated the hospitality. Eventually, I moved to a neighborhood called Wedding and shared my third apartment with one of the Australians I had met my first morning in Berlin.
Over the course of my next few months, I would fall in love with Berlin and the people I was experiencing it with. We spent weekends running around the city experiencing nights like nothing else we had ever seen before. We shared a simple but unique Christmas together, that featured my very American parents visiting and facing Team Australia (my roommate, his sister, and her boyfriend) in a game of beer pong. New Year’s was spent shooting off fireworks wherever we wanted. I never really got homesick, because in a way everyone else in the program made Berlin feel like home.
Between all the big stuff there were a lot of small moments that made Berlin something truly extraordinary. Moments like walking around the city late at night and listening to a charismatic Australian girl tell me about her life, bonding over a greasy doner kebab with my roommate, or going to the Ramones museum with one of the most genuinely amazing people I’ve ever met. Or just sitting around a table drinking cheap, delicious German beer getting to know everyone else in the program. Without Nomaden Berlin I never could have experienced it all or met so many people that I’ll always remember. I loved every moment I spent in Germany, and I would encourage everyone who reads this to find their special moments in the incredible city of Berlin.