I Guess I Live Here Now

This week my new Berlin normalcy has set in a little more, so fear not, this post will be far shorter than the last one.

The highlight of Monday was eating roasted eggplant and red peppers with Ayse AND LIKING IT (as some of you are well aware, I have traditionally had a very LOW tolerance for red peppers…) This time was different because of Ayse's kitchen-goddess ways, to be sure, but also due to the fact that they were a slightly different pepper variety, and most importantly, to due to the large amounts of garlic-tahini-yogurt sauce that I smothered the whole thing with… Anyway—it was somewhat of a culinary landmark for me.

Tuesday I was too lazy to pack a lunch, so I ate a delicious falafel pita with Oliver and our Brazilian classmate (whose name I am not even gonna try and spell…) which was a nice way to switch things up. The real adventure was after work however, when I decided to go shopping…'Grocery shopping and adventure, that might be stretching things a bit Kate,' you might be thinking. Normally I would agree with you, but in this case, the whole affair was actually quite the journey.

As I mentioned before, I believe, google maps has become a near and dear friend of mine since getting here, so I typed in Aldi, thinking it wouldn't let me down, and would send me to the closest one. This turned out to be the crucial false step. The actual getting there was really no problem—so I guess google maps did its job, and I really should have just asked Ayse (as she scolded me for not doing later…) where the nearest supermarket is. Anyway, fast forward to me trekking across a whole neighborhood for about 20 minutes, loaded up with a backpack mostly filled with an "it was on sale and I couldn't resit watermelon" more carrots than I really needed, some tomatoes and various other random items…I got my exercise for the day in anyway!

I eventually got home (stopping on the way to buy some green plantains from a tiny international store) and I finally cooked some Ecuadorian (ok, actually the recipe was Colombian, but they are pretty close) soup for Ayse, which she approved of, so it was worth it. We are still working on that watermelon…

Wednesday's highlight was getting to visit another satellite office of the RAA Berlin in a different part of the city, where I heard about that specific project. The focus of that team is working as mediators between newly arrived (mostly from Bulgaria and Romania) immigrant families and Kindergartens, as well as landlords. Since these peoplen do not always speak German when they first get here, and there are a limited number of kindergarten spots in the city, the RAA mediators work with the kindergartens to help insure that these families (often with many children) have access to this free childcare, which is also a critical time for the kids to learn German before starting first grade. This office also works to help these families find housing, since they might otherwise be sleeping in one of the many parks. It was super informative and interesting to hear from the people on the ground doing this work what it is like.

Thursday I made the valuable discovery that the bakery around the corner from the language school sells Bretzels for €0,50 (the Germans use the coma like we use the period when it comes to numbers, which took me a long time to figure out last time I was here…)

At work, I sat in on a planning meeting for the conference, where we ran through the program, which helped give me a sense of what it will be like on the actual day.

Friday I upgraded my original Bretzel to a Käsebretzel for only €0,25 extra (obviously worth it!) and this has since become a nearly constant staple of the half hour "Pause" during class.

I had a short day of work, since I met a different colleague at a Jewish school in the neighborhood, where RAA supports an after school program. It was a very relaxed visit, really just a check-in over some herbal tea about how things are going, and if they need any support. It was interesting to get out of the office again though, and I got to learn a little bit about what they do at that site.

I was thus headed home much earlier than normal, and spent a very relaxing evening watching a cheesy German teen show (I think it might also be from the late 90s-early 00s…"Türkisch für Anfänger") and then making pasta for dinner. We then made German Pfannkuchen (think creps) when Ayse got back from work and decided she had a craving for them. It was all very delicious and a lovely way to end the workweek.

Saturday started with a deliciously lazy morning, in which I ate some watermelon in the traditional Turkish fashion (according to Ayse anyway) this includes putting soft white cheese on it, and eating it with bread (I substituted bread for yesterday's Pfankuchen this time)

I eventually motivated myself enough to go on my weekly climbing adventure. The gym was lovely-right on the Spree river, with only bouldering. They had some fun routs where you could top out and climb right over the wall and directly onto a couch on the second floor—they know what's up.

By the time I go home, Ayse was back from work, and suggested we go to "Little Tibet" for dinner. I had some delicious spinach and cheese momos, and she got her usual duck dish. We then went and had cocktails as we chatted at the outside seating of a nearby restaurant.

Sunday I finally ended up meeting up with Ryan Woodgate, the son of old friends of my parents (my only interaction with this kid before this was playing frisbee in his paren't backyard when we visited his family in high school). He is doing his masters here, but also went to high school here, and upon having an actual conversation with him, it turns out he is very nice! We had a good time walking through Victoria Park and chatting. We compared notes on college (Edinburgh is a little different than Richmond Indiana it turns out…) and tried to figure out the chronology of when exactly our parents even met, and when each of our families moved where, among other things. It was nice to connect with new person and get some Berlin recommendations as I enjoyed the weekend sunshine.

As I was a block away from home, I met Ayse, and turned around to go with her to relax in another park. I had just been thinking about what a shame it would be to go inside on such a lovely day, so it was a good…Zufall…wow, I actually just had to translate that word from German into English, since I really couldn't think of it (it's "coincidence" in this language, if you were wondering)

After a couple more hours of sunshine, I made it back for a quick father's day chat with my daddy-o (and the rest of the fam). Eventually I made some dinner and Ayse told me all about her trip to Turkey last year to visit her older sisters, who she hadn't seen since she left Turkey, when she was 10!

The evening would have ended calmly, as the day had been, except for the loud dripping noise I heard in my room, as soon as I turned off the light…Apparently the neighbor's have a problem with one of their pipes upstairs…still. Ayse way NOT amused with the situation, since this is the 3ed time this room has become a bit of a shower in the last couple years…Despite the excitement and delayed sleep, Monday morning came right on time, as it always seems to do.

Photos #

Climbing wall tops-out to a lounge with couches
This is where you get to climb up and over onto the couch
View of climbing gym
Slackline setup across the top of two adjacent climbing walls
There was even a high slack line!
Ayse and our fancy cocktails
Ayse and our fancy cocktails
View of Berlin skyline