Grocery Store Woes

Hallo! This past week has been pretty work-heavy with the 12th Berlin Biennale for Contemporary Art starting. I was able to get press accreditation from my work which enabled me to visit all of the six venues for free before it was open to the public. How serendipitous it is that I happen to be in Berlin during the Biennale and working for a company in the art field. One of the best parts about the Biennale is that it’s taken me all over the city since the art is spread out between six different venues. The curation at each venue shows themes and commonalities that tie into the larger topic of the Biennale, Still Present! “The 12th Berlin Biennale unfolds around a set of questions. How can the decolonization of art be conceived-from the restitution of plundered good to an anti-colonial culture of memory? What role can non-Western feminist movements play in the reappropriation of history and identity? How are climate crisis and colonialism related?” I’ve seen a lot of art this past week, some truly innovative and captivating, educational and inspirational, and others…not so much.

ZauharV08, installation by Mai Ngyugên-Long from the 12th Berlin Biennale at Akademie der Kunst

This week I was also able to get a tattoo from an artist that I’ve been wanting for over a year. I tried to make an appointment with them last summer when we were both in Switzerland but there wasn’t enough time, but since they are Berlin-based I realized that I could finally get it during this program! It was probably one of the most painful tattoos I’ve gotten so far, which maybe have been a combination of things like sun exposure from the lake on Sunday, dehydration, and insufficient sleep from the past few nights before. Nonetheless, I’m thrilled to finally have it.

ZauharV09, New tattoo

We made our weekly visit to the street food market on Thursday night, always offering a plethora of new and diverse foods to try. I often find myself wandering around indecisively at the market, unsure of what I’m in the mood for or want to try next. This week I tried a dish from a Turkish stand called manti dumplings, which consists of small meat dumplings in a yogurt and oil sauce. While they were filling I will say I was a little disappointed. I wanted one more thing and although I’m not typically a dessert person, everyone was getting waffles and they looked so good that I got one as well.

Despite all of the fun and good things that happened this week, there was an unfortunate accident in the neighborhood we are staying in that killed one teacher and left several people injured. It was really shocking to hear the news at work, and very unnerving after all of the shootings that have happened back home. It was a reminder that there are cruel people everywhere, and just because you’re in a new city, country, or continent unfortunately doesn’t mean that these incidents cease to happen. Following the incident, that area has been heavily guarded, and the locale was especially upsetting considering it was so close to the terrorist attack at the Christmas market in Berlin in 2016.

While some things are common everywhere, there have definitely been a couple of difficulties for me adjusting to Berlin and German culture. Something that I’ve found especially aggravating is grocery shopping. I’m not used to the layout of most of the grocery stores here, and it takes me forever to shop for things that it would only take ten to fifteen minutes to get at Trader Joe’s or Aldi’s in the states. Alongside that, things are labeled in German obviously, which wouldn’t necessarily be a problem but many things are also packaged differently. Things that I’m used to seeing in tins are in jars, or liquids in cartons seem to be in yogurt containers. I find myself going up and down each aisle so many times because it’s all unfamiliar. I think to help ease this frustration I may try to go grocery shopping with at least one other person, that way it might be easier to spot items and we can help each other.

Something that I’ve found in the workplace to be a bit difficult is the lack of socializing. At my restaurant job in Pittsburgh, we talk with each other constantly and hang out outside of the workplace as well, because our management really promotes a family-like work atmosphere. At my job here, we all sit around the same table but very infrequently have conversations, and it’s difficult to start them because we’re all supposed to be working, and no one wants to be the one that distracts everyone from their tasks, especially since our bosses sit at the same table with us. I did bump into a coworker at one of the Biennale venues, and we walked through it together and got a coffee after, and sat in a park, which was really nice and I hope to have more social and informal interactions with my coworkers in the coming weeks.