- Scissor Sisters - Let's Have A Kiki (YouTube)
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[0:09] People change. It's literally the only note you left in preparation of this episode.
[0:14] Yeah, because you asked me to explain what this episode should be about.
And I'm just like, when you move to a new place, you come in with a different perspective versus when you leave a place.
And I think no matter where you live, even if you visit a place, you gain something,
you gain some sort of perspective, some sort of knowledge, some sort of focus that you didn't have beforehand.
And I don't know. You've lived in Berlin longer than I have. You lived in a lot of different places. So I'm sure that with every place that you've lived, there has been something different about you, you know?
[1:02] True. I mean. I feel like.
People. Change is true kind of regardless of place.
But it is true that places also change you. And maybe the more you move around and the more you live in different places, the faster you kind of change. Is that what you're getting at? Yes.
[1:24] Yes, my people don't change. I would disagree. Some people don't change. If I go back home to my family, they're going to be the same people that I left them with, the same mindset, the same mentality.
Everything is going to be the same. I know exactly how they will be versus me. Every time I go to some new place, I am completely I feel like I'm completely different and maybe that's a little bit egotistical, like I'm changing all the time, but.
[1:52] Hmm. It is true. I don't know. I guess I don't think it's impossible to change if you're staying in the same place. As long as you make an effort to expose yourself to new ideas and thoughts.
[2:03] And that's it. You're it's much easier to feel comfortable when you're like at the same place versus when you move to a new place.
You're forced to adapt. You know, you're forced to figure things out differently, even if you're going back home after being away to someplace else.
You're forced to. Like, for example, if I moved back to America, I will be forced to, you know, give up some of the habits that I had here or I would be forced to, you know, just do things differently. So I think a place always changes to you.
[2:36] That is true. And now that I remember, I went to the States as an exchange student in 2000 for I was 17.
And in our preparation, even like I went with an organization, AFS, that does student exchange student programs and has been for a long time.
And they have a really good system where they prepare you beforehand and then you have a midterm camp where you kind of reflect on the culture shock that you're experiencing and stuff like that.
And even during those kind of seminars,
they told us, Look, you're going to change a lot during that year and you're going to come back and all your friends won't have changed as much necessarily, and there might be some conflict there or you might feel like they don't understand what you went through.
And maybe that's even more true the younger you are.
I feel like now if I went back to the States to spend another year there, like I'm 35 now, I'm like, How old am I? 35, 36. Something along those lines.
I'm old and I feel like I would probably not change as much, but still, definitely, especially if it's a new place that you haven't been to before,
it changes you and you pick up things and that is a good thing, I think.
[3:55] Yeah, Berlin. Before I went to Berlin, I was such a hopeful optimist, full of life.
Now, here, I'm such a pessimist.
How Berlin Changes You
[4:04] Okay, So let's talk about how Berlin changes you. How does Berlin change you? Do you really think Berlin makes you turns you into a pessimist?
[4:09] Do you anything for.
No, but it has grounded me and I don't like the whole term, be it realistic.
But like, I mean, I listened to the first episode of our podcast and I was like, Oh, I'm so happy, you know? And then now I'm like, Who?
Jay I mean, now you would be like, slow it down a little bit. But I've also changed in the way that like, I view like relationships as well.
Like before I came here, I was like much of, like a very hopeless romantic.
Like, like, oh, yeah, let's like, settle down or whatnot. And then Berlin and it's like, have fun, be who you are or be what you want to be. And this sort of idea of just letting go.
[4:59] Now you're just a hedonist who just wants to have fun and parties and party.
[5:03] You know. Yes. Until something else changes. Yeah, but like, I think in some ways I've kind of let go from being here.
There's I mean, I still go through my struggles and whatnot, but I've noticed that there's I've been putting a lot less pressure on myself to present myself in a certain way, to think of myself in a certain way,
to portray myself in a certain way.
And I think that's something I if I was in the States, I might have still been in that like Lupe.
[5:36] But that's interesting because that's maybe something that's spirulina specific, because I feel like many times that people go to a new place.
There is a huge effort to fit in.
Like I think I when I went to the U.S. as an exchange student, I really tried to kind of.
Fit in as much as possible. I don't know. I shared this anecdote on this podcast or some other podcast that I do about how I changed my clothes. And I started wearing all jeans because some other people were doing that, which was weird and.
And also it's part of like intercultural competence to,
not just say, okay, now everything about my own culture sucks and I'm just going to fully assimilate like,
intercultural competence means to clearly view the differences and not really judge, not say one is better than or the other,
just to just see the differences and then to create your own life and decide what works for you.
But Berlin is obviously so famous for kind of this everything goes atmosphere where everybody can be whoever they want.
I think we talked about this before with other people. And are you saying that that's something that you are like you are assimilating or fitting into Berlin in the sense that you're not trying to fit in anymore? Because in Berlin anything goes.
[6:59] Yes. That's how I always tell people why I really like Berlin a lot is because, like, when I'm here, I don't feel like I have to necessarily fit in.
I feel I felt that like Berlin was to you.
I'm being yourself, good or bad. And I felt a lot more release in that type of thing.
Like even talking to my friends back at home. Some of our like, conversations or perspectives, like I even know that there's like a difference, like some things that I would have agreed with them on. I'm like, you know what? Know, like, for example, I'll go back to our relationships. Everything.
Any of my friend we loved like Kiki and like, dream about the type of stuff. And I love the relationship type of thing, you know, just dreaming about being in a relationship.
[7:32] Wait. You love What? What?
[7:37] Kiki. What's Kiki?
[7:38] Kiki Oh, all the guys will know this. Kiki Just to know where it's for.
For, like, chat, chat to chat, gossip or whatnot.
Just Kiki, Let's have a Kiki. You never heard of it?
[7:51] And that's a gay thing or an English word that I don't. I have never heard that in my life. No.
[7:53] You never. Yes, You never had. Let's have a Kiki.
Really? Oh, my gosh. There's like. Like there's a song. Let's have a Kiki. Oh, really? Wow. Well.
[8:04] Okay. Really? Well, I'll listen to that song and put it in the show notes so people can listen.
[8:08] That's something. Yes, but we would just talk about, you know, all the type of things.
And that friend, I think, is still in that sort of mentality.
But now being here, I've realized that there's an array of definitions of relationships and array of personalities and array of experiences that have allowed me to release some of these,
ideas or concepts that I had in my head.
And it's only been six months, which is like the crazy thing for me.
So like when I talk to them now, I'm like, okay, yeah, I totally, like, hear you.
Like, I don't get it the same exact way.
And I feel that like Berlin for me has done a lot of good with that.
Berlin's also a hard city as a cold city sometimes, and I'm learning to develop tough skin here as well, which is something that I've never really had to deal with back in the States before.
[9:09] But can you make that more concrete? Like what is the situation that you've had where you. Well.
[9:12] Racism. That's a big one. People being like.
Like people are trying to talk to you in the streets and you just ignoring them.
That I do way more here. I won't speak to that one person who tries to speak to me in the streets.
[9:29] Given the fact that part of my job is literally to talk to strangers in the street and interview them, and it relies on them stopping and saying, Sure, I will talk to you.
[9:38] This makes me sad. But I also understand.
I mean, I don't know. Did you want to share? Did you share any of the experiences you've had? Yeah, you did.
[9:45] Yeah, I did. I did. Yeah. But it's not.
Not even just that you have the people who try to come up to you on the streets. You just don't know what people are going to try to do.
You don't know if someone's going to pickpocket you. You don't know if someone's trying to manipulate you. You don't really know what's going on. So.
[10:00] But 99.9 or I don't know a lot the majority of the time, none of that is going to happen.
Like the majority of the time, the interactions are going to be okay.
So defaulting to this skepticism, I don't know if that's healthy. Like if you.
[10:15] But that's just how Berlin. That's just like I've been, like, en garde here. So, like, for me, my sort of mentality when I go out into the streets is just to put out my wall.
Like, I mean, I'm so friendly. I also talk to people, but like, I'm not going if someone walks up to me, most likely I'll just keep on looking for it and not like actually, like, stop.
Even if someone needs help, I'm not going to like, really try to, like, stop.
[10:40] I want to make it my mission to change this, because, I mean, I agree that Berlin's,
a rough place, but in huge quotation marks, because if you've traveled the world at all, it's not a rough place.
Like there's not that much crime going on compared to many other places. And.
The majority of interactions will be completely harmless.
And the worst that will happen in most cases is that someone bothers you for change or whatever it is.
But even pickpocketing, I don't think is a huge problem unless you go to, I don't know, Alexanderplatz or like the huge tourism places and.
I think shutting down will kind of rob you of an experience of the city and their people, I think.
I mean, I think you can always make a decision in the moment. And if you know someone approaches you and they're.
And you feel like it's getting uncomfortable. Obviously shut down and tell them to please leave you alone.
But the default should be to be curious and see what's going on here.
And you mentioned people needing your help. Like, I think that's a dangerous mindset to say. Even if people need my help, I will shut down.
[12:00] As for me, it's just I don't know who to trust. You know, like.
Like this whole idea of, like, trust that's really going out the window for me because I just don't know, you know?
And there is an idea for me the more like because I always keep in mind, I don't have like my family or people back home behind my back. So in some cases I'm fending for myself.
So when you move to a new place and you're fending for yourself, that's all automatically going to change. You make like it's like The Hunger Games, like type of stuff, you know?
So then it's my wish. My next question may be to you is like, how do you process this change?
Then it's like if things around you keep changing and you have to really I mean, survival is first always, you know, you're always going to be in survival instincts. So for me, I'm going to be in survival instincts until I feel comfortable here.
And in that time, there's going to be a lot of like me trying something, okay, doesn't work right now. I'm going to try something else that doesn't work, okay?
I'm going to put my guards up, see how that works out and stuff like that. You know, Berlin is a confusing city, So when it comes to this change, it's constantly changing because I'm constantly trying to figure out how to feel comfortable here.
[13:18] I mean, I think it might also have to do with privilege a little bit.
It's easy for me to say, hey, walk through the city with an open posture and this kind of feeling that nothing bad can or will happen.
If you're born here, you're white, you're heterosexual.
You are a man.
I think it's very easy for me to say that. And I know that someone who is black and gay and doesn't speak the language yet has a very different experience.
I guess what I'm interested in is. Like maybe there there's,
a transition kind of or a journey that you can go on where, yes, it's understandable that right now, based on the experiences you've had and as kind of almost a security measure, you have your guards up all the way.
But can you then as you build your life here.
Lower them bit by bit. And there's this term called this a safe space, which I think especially in the gay community, is used a lot.
And Berlin has these safe spaces, which especially I think people talk about the clubs that way, right? And you're going to the clubs like do you do you feel differently there? Is that a.
[14:37] They'll say that definitely in those environments. Those are definitely environments where I finally feel like I can like let my guard down and stuff like that because it's hard to process that.
And I think that it's more of uncertainty that makes those walls come up.
And I do agree through time. Once I finally feel more secure here, I feel more certain then like I'll feel like a little bit more relaxed. But in these moments of like uncertainty is like, what do you do?
And then, yeah, when you go to the clubs, it's pretty much similar structures no matter where you go or if you go to like for me, Burkin, I know what I get in burger and burger kind of for me is a safe space,
and they really cultivate that type of environment from my perspective, maybe a privilege perspective, but from my perspective, yes.
[15:28] And it's tricky, but it's still tricky, though, to still find those.
And I do keep in mind, like I'm still new here, you know, So being a new person, a new city is going to make you feel like on guard.
I think my best analogy is like a cat. You know, if you introduce a cat into a new environment and you traumatize that cat,
it's going to take a while before it starts to feel comfortable in its environment without having to like, you know, like SWAT at you or hide under the bed or whatnot, you know?
And I don't think I was necessarily like that before I moved to Berlin.
[16:11] Generally, I was more or less okay, like adapting to like a new place pretty fast, but definitely here in Berlin, I'm like, okay, I got to like, keep my, like, eyes open.
I got to, like, figure some like, like shit out, you know?
But then though, I don't think that's necessarily a bad thing because it challenges you in different ways.
You know, it challenges who I am.
It makes me question my perspectives. It makes me question everything that I've ever known about myself and now makes me have to add new actions to my like.
Roster of, like, actions, you know, like, what do I do in this situation?
What do I do in this situation? How do I act in this situation? How should I be in this situation? You know, and that's something, once again, that I think you will only get if you put yourself into a new environment.
And in that case, I think Berlin has changed me. And I want to say necessarily for the bad. I think sometimes it's bad, but sometimes it's good.
But also maybe there's no good or bad. Maybe it's just the way. What?
[17:17] What are some things that you've learned that you think are positive? Like have you? Do you feel like you've gained any new skills?
[17:23] Yeah. Yeah. I definitely have learned to be more open minded.
I've learned not to take myself too seriously and not to overthink myself and my actions because.
You see a lot of different people here in Berlin, and you are never the most extra here in Berlin.
There's always someone who is doing a little bit more than you are.
And for me, that's really relieved me in this whole sense of like, okay, one, the world is not revolved around you, too.
You don't have to overthink anything that you do. And three, no one cares.
And that can sound kind of like pessimistic, but it's very nice that no one cares,
because for me, it's me just living here a little bit, relieving, you know, like, I can really just kind of do what I want.
And I feel like that's been very nice.
[18:24] Something that I like. I've been thinking back now to when I first moved to Berlin.
It's so long ago, but before I moved to Berlin, I really only lived in smaller cities.
Like I grew up in a very small city. And then I studied in Kiel, which is also fairly small.
And I think once you move to Berlin and you live here, you kind of start taking for granted all of the things that are always there.
And now when I go back to visit my mom, for example, who lives in the countryside,
it's just so weird that you can't really order things all the time, or you have to check the opening times times of the supermarket, and you can just cycle to a swimming pool.
Like if you want to go to the swimming pool, you definitely have to take a car and all of those kinds of things. I guess it's not that Berlin specific, it's just being in a big city.
But. Yeah, that urban lifestyle of everything's always here.
And if some kind of new thing starts, whatever scooters that are just on the street, you can be pretty much sure that it starts here. Like you have them here first and you don't have to go to a different city to go to a concert.
Like, that's something that changed for me is that I just take these things for granted now.
[19:51] That's very true. Berlin I mean, and that's just the city life in general.
And you have a lot of privileges and a lot of accessibility to a lot of things that you don't get in other places and more or less the same sometimes like from America to Berlin or whatnot.
But generally I've always lived in like a city, so I've always had that.
But like for me, for me, the idea of like,
of I would say clubbing and the accessibility of nightlife has been very like, that's like something I will probably take for granted being here versus like being in the States clubs, clubs at Two,
[20:34] And here they just get started at two.
[20:34] And they just, just like you go out, out. I like to.
[20:40] Right. Although I have to say, like I used to laugh about that, too. And we're like, Ha ha.
Like, Germany is so much better. Like we, you know, so much cooler. We started to.
Instead of closing it, too. But even if you think about it, if you have like a regular life as well, where you have a job that starts in the morning,
closing the clubs that do actually make sense, like you start partying early and then you go to bed at two so that you don't have that much jetlag.
Like, it's crazy too. Like, to me it's crazy if you party every weekend from midnight to six and then two days later, a one day later, you start work at eight. That's just such a disruption.
[21:17] That is true. That is very true. That that that is very true. I think my sleep habits were a lot better in America for people who are moving to Berlin.
Advice For People Who Move To Berlin
[21:32] What do you say to them that might be experiencing, you know, or that might have or might will be experiencing change?
Because there's a lot of different types of changes that you will experience in Berlin.
You will experience the people, you'll experience the culture you'll experience.
Your everyday life will change how you get your coffee, will change, how you find a flat will change. How do you like? What advice do you have for people who might be going on this journey?
[22:08] For anyone who's moving from a smaller place to Berlin or any big city. I think it's really this idea of you're constantly surrounded by people now.
I had to take the subway yesterday because we're fostering a dog now and I just realized I hate being on the subway, especially when there's tons of people.
And so I think you have to mentally prepare for these situations.
It's not as bad as like London, but there are a lot of people on the street in the subway and finding ways to deal with that noise. Canceling headphones I can recommend can help.
And also just getting a bike and cycling, which we have a great episode about, can help with that.
But that's just any big city. And I guess some people just really hate it. And then maybe a big city just isn't really for you. I don't love those experiences, but for me it's worth the cost of being in an exciting city with so much going on.
Berlin specific. I mean, we talked about that with Carrie, about how Berliners are often rude or can come across rude even if they don't mean to be rude.
That's something I think that it makes all the difference if you just know that it's going to happen and you just know that it's.
Almost kind of a cultural thing that you have to learn to accept. And if you don't shut down and react kind of very.
[23:36] Protectively and then being rude in return and just accept it for what it is and stay positive and friendly.
Then it actually kind of dissolves those situations and you're finding and it's almost never personal.
So I think that's something we've talked about before, but it's really important to know when you come here that there is this you mentioned it's a tough city. It is a tough city in that sense.
[24:01] What else? I think one of the main things that I'm realizing more and more.
And it's so stupid because it's so obvious, but it really.
The more people you know and the more connections you have, the easier life gets.
I feel like when I moved here, I didn't know that many people. I know people who've moved here who didn't know anybody. And it's always so hard not just to make friends, but to really kind of achieve anything or do anything.
And once you know a ton of people and now I'm in the position where I kind of almost have to protect myself from too many connections because I don't know.
I'm constantly networking and meeting people and, you know, all that stuff.
And but having all of these connections makes it so much easier. Finding an apartment is easier, making friends, talking to someone, finding someone who can dog sit your dog if you're gone.
Founding a company, anything is easier if you like, know people and have a good network of supportive people.
And so, I don't know. Networking is an ugly term in a way. I don't know. I don't like the term, but like.
Throwing yourself, putting yourself out there and meeting people and going to meetups or doing whatever it takes to kind of create a network of people that, you know, in the city will really help make the experience of moving here easier.
[25:28] I agree that's a positive sense of what Berlin can help you with. If you're not a social person, Berlin can really help you be more social.
[25:35] And the and the other point is that it is easier to find kind of your group here, right, because there are so many people and everybody like all these different subcultures and subgroups exist, whereas if you're in a small city,
you might not be able to find your people because there aren't enough people.
[25:54] Yeah, exactly. But I do think, though. Berlin, if you want.
To experience Berlin right. The way that it contains you is by taking those risk and like, you know, just going after it.
I think that's a positive way of travelling has changed me, is I'm more likely to take more risk and just see what happens with things, because Berlin is also a pretty forgiving city, I would say as well,
because there's a lot of shit going on. You can always bounce back.
If something does work out with one friend, you can always find somebody else to hang out with or whatnot. It's a big enough city where you can always it is.
There's an abundance of everything.
[26:36] I agree. I mean, yeah, knowing kind of what village life is like a little bit where, you know, if you make a mistake, people will hold a grudge and you're kind of ostracized.
You don't really have that problem in Berlin, you know, like.
Yeah, Yeah. But I would also I don't know if I've mentioned this before, but be the person who connects people.
Like, a simple example is that when I moved into my apartment, the first neighbors that I talked to, I was like, Is there a WhatsApp group for this, for this house, for this building?
And they're like, No. And I was like, Let's start one. And then I started the group invited them, ask them to invite all the other neighbors when they saw them.
Whenever I met a new neighbor, I was like, Hey, we actually started a WhatsApp group.
And now this building is actually a proper community where we obviously,
a lot of the texts that are going on are about parcels that have been delivered to the wrong person, stuff like that, but also like we're checking in on each other and we're not sitting and we're doing all these different things,
and it feels really nice if you can kind of connect people that way. Yeah.
[27:40] Yeah, that's very true. That's very true. Now, how do you avoid Berlin changing for the worst?
How To Avoid Berlin Changing You For The Worst
[27:47] Because while I think Berlin's a great city, it can also be a city where there are no limits.
And I've constantly heard from a lot of people that if you're not too careful, you can go into a negative spiral in Berlin.
And I've heard this story from a lot of people.
[28:10] Do you have like a concrete example of how people changed for the world?
[28:12] Like, for example, let's go back to like the whole drug use or whatnot.
Like, like, like you can be introduced into the club party scene in Berlin. However, you have no limits, So you end up starting to do this every week and every week it becomes every week. Every week becomes every day.
Every day becomes just your lifestyle. And next thing you know, you're broke.
You have to move back or whatnot, and you're just completely the different person that you used to be because you've gotten wrapped up into this,
culture that has not put any restrictions on you,
and has allowed you to change into whatever you want to be, but without any sort of positive compass, you kind of shoot went all the way to like the opposite side or whatnot.
[28:58] Yeah, I would say the compass isn't even that important.
The important thing is setting really clear boundaries for yourself.
Like, for me, I'm getting better and better at setting boundaries.
I used to not be that good at it and like, I don't think evolutionary were built to be in a city like this with limitless possibilities, limitless people and places and everything.
And like talking about drugs, for example, I don't even drink alcohol anymore because I've, I just realized that it's.
[29:35] That it makes me happier to be able to wake up early, to not have not be hung over, not have post alcoholic depression, none of those things.
I make very few exceptions. About once per month I have I have a drink with my best friend, but it's almost like a ritual.
And then otherwise I just have these. I don't even have to make the decision because I just know like I'm going to order a beer without alcohol.
And obviously that's just one example from my life. But I think whatever life you're building, it's really important to think about it and not just let it happen, but like, try everything.
Try every. I'm a huge believer in try everything once, at least as long as it doesn't hurt you or someone else.
Try everything once. Sure. But then think about it and reflect on it and make a decision like, is that something that's contributing to my life or not?
And then build boundaries about them and just stick to them so that, yeah, you're not spiraling out of control, hanging out with the wrong people and kind of going down that spiral.
[30:34] Yeah, I agree. I think boundaries are just a really good thing just to have in general in your life.
But definitely when it comes to Berlin because I, I mean, I've came here with very, very specific intentions.
Like I want to work, I want to be an artist, I want those types of things.
So all of my decisions always centered around those types of things.
So that's really helped me make my own boundaries and make my own decisions.
But I've also heard of people just come to Berlin, just to come to Berlin with nothing, you know?
And while that's a really great and it's a great city to come to Berlin with anything, it does help to at least be able to have some sort of structure or some sort of like like detector when you're going too far out of like your,
not your comfort zone, but there's something that you want to wake up and you feel that you're like you said, you feel good about yourself, you know?
And that's like the scary thing. I've just heard about Berlin changing people. It's not like people end up not feeling good about themselves because of they look back and they're like, Oh shit, what have I done with my past year or two or three or four years of my life, you know?
[31:44] And I think the kind of the other side of the coin in terms of boundaries of boundaries are kind of things where you tell yourself, okay, I'm going to only do this a certain amount of times or only on specific days or whatever it is.
The other side is setting specific goals, things that you do every week or every day, and you just make that decision and you do it whether you feel like it or not.
Because I think, yeah, if you come to Berlin, as you said, without a plan, without a structure, without a job, without anything, it's easy to just kind of not do anything. And then a year passes and you're like, What did I do?
But if you make these goals of, okay, once per week, I'm going to go to some, meet up and meet new people once per week, I'm going to apply for a job, whatever it is, even if I don't think there's any hope.
I'm just going to apply to one job every week and I'm going to go to a German lesson or do my own German teaching thing, whatever it is.
I think setting boundaries and setting these goals that you're going to do no matter what will help you a lot in the long run to kind of look back and say, Actually, I did learn a lot during that time and a lot did change.