Instagram expectations v.s Reality
Wrapping up my first whole week here in my adopted city of 4 months I am forced to reflect on all the intense and incessant imagery I’ve been exposed to. Flipping through a mini photo book in my mind of the various streets I’ve walked down or the graffiti I saw from the tram, I feel that I have an embryonic idea of this city’s aesthetic and yet it is very different from the one I expected to find. I am coming here from Bard Annandale, the big sister to BCB. At Bard we have a constant stream of students going to and coming from BCB, so while I knew very little about Europe, Germany and Berlin I had a very specific profile of the BCB student experience dictated and curated by social media. Here was my impression based on the tales, Instagram posts/stories, Facebook statuses and rumors that came streaming to me in the states before I left. I saw Berlin as a hyper clean and yet ubiquitously graffitied city filled with public art and a million cafes. I thought that every night was a party if you went out looking for it. Stories painted visions of free love sex clubs and abundant hook up culture. I had the unique perspective of experiencing Berlin through edited photos and videos, so of course I got all of these aforementioned cliches but I also got picturesque bathroom selfies and edenic shots of drinking beer and doing art in a park. All in all I had a very rosy view of Berlin before coming here. Now that I have been here and living the BCB life for a week I find it most interesting to reflect on the things I notice being the things no one mentioned. Things like getting bored in not so awesome clubs, how the tram and public transport is absolutely amazing, the fact that even the normal buildings are very beautiful, how its very cold and very dark, that people are generally just as closed off here as they are in any other city, and clothes from flea markets are actually pretty expensive. Like Katy Derbyshire discusses in Berlin: Its Not All Sex, All the Time, Berlin is not actually a sex fueled party machine but rather a city with a lot of options. Yes you can live the hedonistic life while you’re here but it will cost you 13 euros at the door and a 1.5 hour tram ride home. All this is not to be taken as me having a negative time here, in fact quite the opposite is true. I have enjoyed my few days here more than I can describe. I only mean to point out the obvious and overly repetitive point that instagram is not an accurate portrayal of reality. The reputation of a city such as Berlin will only be fulfilled at a cost, however it will also surprise and delight you in ways you never considered. Looking forward to the weeks ahead.