The vostel Blog – News, Opinions and Best Practice about Volunteering

Experience Report, Guest Article

Finding the bright side of Berlin with volunteering?

woman from the back in front of a street during sunset

by Jenny Petersen

Life has this funny way of taking us to unexpected places. Personally, I would have never expected to be writing this blog in Berlin. In fact, I had never even thought of travelling, let alone moving to Germany, before I met my boyfriend. Fast forward a few years and here I am; married, resident of Berlin and facing a dilemma. I don’t like Berlin.

 “I don’t like Berlin”

 Yeah, I know. This is quite shocking to many people. Most of my friends here in Berlin love the city, and they insist on it’s charm and vibe. Yet try as I may, I just can’t seem to warm up to it. I find it hard to find my place in a city so large. Perhaps it is my Canadian roots, but I miss friendly strangers. It seems like everyone is too busy to smile, too caught up on their phones to notice each other and too cool to say thank you or sorry. My experience with public transportation has not helped my Berlin adjustment phase either. I guess it was one too many grey and dreary winter morning commutes on the sbahn that pushed me over the edge. Being deprived of personal space, lacking fresh oxygen, hearing an electric violinist play the same radio hit day after day, or having a man literally pee behind my seat….

“It’s time to find the bright side of Berlin.”

The way I see it, is that I have two choices. I can keep disliking Berlin (very tempting), or I can try and change my perspective.  Even though I already work in a Kindergarten, have some friends here, and I am involved with our community, I need to try a little harder to make Berlin my home. It seems to me that until I have more positive experiences here, I will continue disliking and possibly resenting this city. It’s time to find the bright side of Berlin.

“I want to get involved in the programs that are taking initiative and making Berlin a better place.”

This is why I thought of volunteering. Finding a space where I can give back and meet the diverse men and women living here. I want to get involved in the programs that are taking initiative and making Berlin a better place. To me, working alongside these organizations is exactly the sort of inspiration I need to accept this city once and for all.  When I found online, I  immediately loved the concept of short term volunteer work in Berlin. As an English native speaker, it is perfect that offers volunteering opportunities in English and beginner German.

“My first volunteer opportunity is coming up in a few weeks, and I couldn’t be more excited.”

My first volunteer opportunity is coming up in a few weeks, and I couldn’t be more excited. I am optimistic for what is to come, and I look forward to keeping you updated along the way. To conclude, I would like to share the wise and inspiring words of a woman, who really knew what it meant to give of oneself for another:

 “Go out into the world today and love the people you meet. Let your presence light new light in the hearts of people.” – Mother Teresa

Born and raised as a Canadian prairie girl, Jenny now lives in Berlin with her husband. As a teacher, she enjoys working with children and has a specialization in primary education. Writing, shark documentaries, baking and traveling Europe are a few of her favorite hobbies.

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