A few weeks ago, my work took me to one of our satellite locations. So I found myself in a different part of Germany, interacting with colleagues and other employees that I typically don't work with on a daily basis. And I must say, it is a very different universe, compared to the bubble that I typically inhabit whenever I am in Berlin. And I am referring not only to the work atmosphere, but to the surrounding life overall.
I don't want to call it a culture shock, but it probably was getting to that point. First of all, this trip emphasised to me that while I live in Berlin, Berlin is not at all representative of Germany. From the moment I arrived and checked into my hotel, all the way to the airport when I was on my way home, it felt like I have only used German. I conducted all of my meetings with colleagues in German (it was definitely faster that way, since my German was better than their English). It was perhaps one of the few times in which I was forced to be immersed in the language all day long. And it gave me a headache. By the end of the day, I definitely needed to decompress. I called some friends just because I wanted to chit chat in a language where I didn't need to use my brain.
Furthermore, as I mentioned before, Berlin is not representative of Germany. The rest of Germany has a different vibe to it, and I noticed it immediately when observing the people on the streets, the passengers in the bus, et cetera. Berlin is very international, and you can hear plenty of different languages on the street. In other parts of the country, this is less so.
Then again, there's the immigrant population, and for some reason, these sectors of society that have a migratory background don't really mingle with the other sectors of the population. Everyone just keeps to themselves.
It's slightly funny, since I arrived in Germany in September 2012. And 7 years later, in October 2019, I became a permanent resident. But it seems like only recently am I realising that I actually am in Germany, when I step out of the bubble that is Berlin.
And finally, there's work. There's a huge section of my organisation that I just hasn't seen before, and has a very different culture than the one I am used to in Berlin. These colleagues are very nice and friendly, and made me feel at home while I was there, yet there's always the feeling that there's a different vibe in the air, and this is something that would take me more than two days to understand. Unfortunately, two days was all I had.
In any case, I enjoyed my visit. For me, it was seeing a very different universe for the very first time.