Why Berlin?


Our new place in the world is…. (drumroll please): Berlin, Germany! We are moving to Berlin, Germany. My mother actually left very recently to find us an apartment… We will follow very very soon! There, as you can imagine, are numerous reasons why.

We can do it!

Reason Number 1

My parents want us to be bilingual and keep it that way. While yes, we can speak, read, and write German, we tend to gravitate towards English more, seeing as we live in America. It would be even more difficult to keep up our German if we continued living in America. However, the adjustment might be a lot to take in at once, and to keep our English the way it is, Berlin has an awesome program called Europaschulen (European schools). These schools run an entirely bilingual learning curriculum, they are public and free (?!), and the choice and diversity is amazing… They have German-Portugese, Russian, Italian, French, Spanish, English (which is the one we’ll be attending), Turkish, Polish, and more. The Europaschulen are also required to have half native speakers (in this case, I speak English quite well) and half German speakers in order to remain balanced so that the language preference doesn’t tip one way or another.  Because of this, they had room for me and I am going to the Schiller Gymnasium where I will follow the German-English track (they offer German-French too), and I’m excited about the 3 different languages on the playground! Audrey is attending the Nelson Mandela (German-English), highly coveted for its IB program. The little ones are hopefully going to attend a little Elementary school we like, specializing in the care-taking of animals, and they’ll ride ponies once or twice a week! The school ski trips are going to be fun too…

Our new friend – the Berlin Bear!

Reason Number 2 (in no particular order)

We have family in Europe, which is a relatively small continent as well. My mother’s family is in Germany (Duesseldorf and Munich, therefore creating a nice triangle), Italy, and Austria. My father has many aunts and uncles living in Holland and France. We will be just a train ride away (or a very short flight). Berlin’s schools also make the summer 6 weeks so that we have more vacations spread out around the school year, and I hope we use that time to go and visit them. Also, everything will be much closer to us… We could vacation in Scandinavia or visit Turkey or explore England since they are so close!

Reason Number 3

The quality of life. This is the one I’m least sure of… Will the mindset be different? Will the same old hamster wheel be there too? I know many cultural aspects will be different… Most stores are closed on Sundays, people like to have coffee and cake during late afternoon with their friends, and public transportation is amazing (I was on the El yesterday, and we stopped twice for delays and what-not, which is quite unheard of in Europe!)… Those are the first things that pop into my head!

My mom said our next place in life should be a place for us to “schlag unsure Wurzeln”… a place to grow into and stay for a long time. Berlin is still growing as a city, and I hope we can grow together in the years to come!


10 responses »

  1. Lillian, you have given us a wonderful view into your and your family’s life and travels. Thanks for the beautiful writings and much luck to you and all in Berlin. Our family lived in Switzerland (Basel) for three years and Duesseldorf for one. You have the benefit of really being bi-lingual which will make your life easier with the ability to make a broader selection of friends than we were able to do. As neighbors, (and I’m sure your friends) we will miss you, but maybe you will keep up your blog so we can enjoy your growth and adjustment to your new life. Thank you for the past year and wishing you much happiness and success – Barbara Hartnack

    • Thank you very much for those encouraging words!
      I will try to keep up my blog for the supportive readers such as yourself, updating it with our new life and future travels, like a journal.
      Thank you for all of your support and kindness.

  2. Congratulations on your new digs and your new bold adventures! We, too, are interested in getting our kids in IB programs, but programs here in Michigan, here in the States, since most of our direct kin still resides in the States. Also, I am not sure what you mean by ‘quality of life.’ Was Chicago not fulfilling or was it too expensive, or is Berlin better as far as education, economy, how much your euro will buy you? So you will have to keep us posted as far as your impressions of your quality of life in Berlin, in Germany, in Europe, vs. what Chicago, Illinois, and America had to offer. Best wishes! We know you will have grand adventures wherever you find yourself, which is pretty amazing since you are but a teenager. The world is your oyster…
    Your Aunt Tamara, Uncle Greg and your cousins, Greta, Harrison, and Andrew.

    • Thank you Tante Tamara!
      I think for us “quality of life” wasn’t that Chicago wasn’t as good as Berlin (Chicago is an amazing city), but that we’d really like to experience and be a part of the european culture and all it has to offer.
      Say hello to the Fabulous Five for us!

  3. Berlin??? Really?! Wow!! One of my favorite. When a friend asked me where should he go because he wanted to be at a bilingual place, I suggest him Berlin. Cheap groceries & love the museums!

    And you change your layout 🙂

    • Berlin is a great city – international, diverse, and growing! Did your friend visit the Jewish museum? I would recommend it for all visitors; it was a fantastic experience!
      Do you like the new layout? I thought I could use some change to motivate me to post more…
      Thank you for commenting!

      • Well, my friend isn’t there yet (hopefully he will be soon), but went I visit Berlin last time I get the chance to go to the Holocaust Arbeit Macht Frei – it was sorrow, sad and give a much vivid experience on how is it feel like to be standing in front of the chamber. While there, the tour guide suggest us to read on Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl. Hope I can find time to read this.

        Among all museums in DE (among that I manage to visit), I love Story of Berlin. Perhaps the most fascinating part is the bunker. It leaves a deep impression on me. War is always tragic isn’t it?

        p/s: I love the part where the date is circled and the crooked headbar. =)

  4. Lillian, that is beautiful. It sounds like you guys are settling in there. I’m affiliated to the Humboldt Uni, will be around like every 2 months or so. So hi to your parents and sisters! Take care!

  5. Lieve Lillian, a week ago, I wrote you a, for my typing , a rather long comment and just, as I was sending it, it DISAPPEARED to the cloud somewhere, never to be seen again, at least not that I could find out UUUGGGHHH !!!!! so frustrating!!. I started again, then had to stop and that portion went to nought.
    This time I try yo do it intelligently. Thanks for the latest blog, I had missed reading any, the last past weeks.
    My comments:
    I find it quite ironic, that Opa and I left Europe and came to this country, because we wanted to get away from the limited opportunities in Europe and thought that in America there were many more opportunities and possibilities to explore and utilize. In this case so Opa could do what he was trained and loved to do, rather than waiting for years, before he could go into practice.
    I too was wondering what you meant by quality of life, I didn’t think Chicago is exactly the boonies in the MidWest, but you probably mean the different style and characteristics of European life.
    Remember that there are good, and not so good, things about life in Europe , as well as in America. but people everywhere are human beings, good and bad, but mostly good and always interesting .
    Don’t neglect your paternal American side and inherently Asian rootlets. My mother always prided herself on the fact that she and Opa were PURE Chinese, but when I got older I found that quite impossible with all the migrations through the centuries, given the fact that we originally had come all the way from who knows where in China and certainly had mingled with other ethnic decendants . And I think it is much more exciting to have drops of other “bloods” in you. Opa’s great grandfather was married to a Portugese lady, possibly “imported” to boost the number of suitable brides in Nederlands Indie at the time. I always find that a fun speck in Opa’s ancestry.
    And you DO have a great number of aunts , uncles, and cousins here in the States, just so you don’t forget that part of your family tree.
    Hope you won’t miss the garbage disposal, which is so typically American, and hopefully the washers and dryers will work faster now than they did 20 years ago.when we stayed in Holland for a few weeks for family reunions. That was fun!!
    So, keep an open mind for all the new experiences!! Wishing you all Happy Camping and God speed. Good Health and Happiness in all you do. Love for from Opa and me.

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