October 25, 2013
“I couldn’t believe I could actually be so happy and not explode.” When Danish journalist Karen Sofie Egebo had to leave Berlin, only to come back again, she now can say: “I am home”.
I came to Berlin somewhat by chance. Having spent my early childhood in Paris, I thought I was moving to Paris in the spring of 2010. My life had taken a twist, and I was in need of a change of scenery, but instead of Paris it ended up being Berlin; a city I didn’t have any relationship to. I got an internship at a cultural magazine, and in July 2010 I was dropped off on the cobbled stones in front of my apartment building in Prenzlauer Berg. It was 36 degrees, I was 22 years old, and that afternoon, as I was walking around this unknown city all alone, I knew my life had changed forever.
Almost all of my friends have at one time uttered: ”You are so Berlin, and Berlin is so you.” I don’t know exactly what they mean, but I know that I feel very much at home in this city. I get a daily high when I walk around in the different neighbourhoods, taking in the architecture, contemplating the history, watching the city’s scars and feeling the strong character of its inhabitants. Berlin is a city that has risen from ashes time and time again, and I think that’s what makes this place so unique; there’s a common wish to make exactly this spot on earth the most fantastic place.
One of my favourite places in the city is Karl-Marx-Allee. You can’t walk down that street and not feel overwhelmed; overwhelmed by history, overwhelmed by the architecture, just overwhelmed. It’s so over the top, and yet I feel the street is quietly standing there like a witness, mute and left in a time bubble. It’s a very thought-provoking place for me, and it keeps inspiring me. I feel very close to the city when I’m there.
When you come from Copenhagen, a fine city by the way, you feel empowered by Berlin’s openness. People here don’t look like a uniform clone army, and there’s room to be different. I always say, in Berlin people are interested in who you are and not what you are, and I think that’s very freeing.
I left Berlin after a year, back in 2011. I had spent every day for a year pinching my arms, because I couldn’t believe I could actually be so happy and not explode. I had to leave to go back and finish journalism school, and I cried my way through the first many months in Copenhagen. I felt amputated, as if I’d left part of my body in the city, and Berlin was constantly in my thoughts. For a long time I wasn’t present, just a shadow of myself, and I longed to get back to the city. I moved to Århus and to Montreal, but nothing helped, and in July this year I was finally able to move back. I was frightened and hesitant; had I changed? Had the city changed? Could we find the magic again together? Yes, yes, and YES! My love for Berlin is deeper and more grown-up now, and I appreciate it so much more than before because I feel I’ve fought to get back. I am home.
Karen Sofie Egebo documents her daily discoveries while wandering through the streets of Berlin on her own blog, ‘Dokumenterne‘. Be sure to have a look at her Berlin guide as well! (And if you happen to be on instagram as well, her sneak peeks into a Berlin life were recently added to the ‘suggested user’ section.)