For those who do not know, the second year of the MFA Acting and Contemporary Performance Making program at Columbia College Chicago takes place at Arthaus Berlin. Arthaus Berlin is an intense performing arts training school that focuses on devised and physical theater. This part of the program is one of the biggest reasons I decided to attend Columbia in the first place. I wanted to travel abroad, learn from different practitioners outside of the commercial theater canon, and further my understanding of this art form. So: check, check, and check! After a very successful year in Chicago, it is now time for the next chapter of the story: Arthaus and Berlin.
The night before I departed on my journey, I was falling down a rabbit hole of questions, including but not limited to: what should I pack? How will I get to my apartment from the airport? What will classes be like? Will those Duolingo German lessons actually help me?!? These questions continued to swirl in my head while I was saying goodbye to family in San Francisco and throughout the flight. When I stepped off a Lufthansa Airbus into Berlin Brandenburg International Airport fourteen hours later, they confronted me even louder than before—but I answered most of them quickly, and I began to relinquish all the anticipation and nervousness as I made my way to my new apartment and started my new life here in Berlin.
I have now been here for over a month and am well into the flow of classes at Arthaus, but I am still in the process of feeling present here. One of the facilitators of our classes asked us about this in a circle. When it got to me, I could barely articulate what I was feeling. What I could say was that there was a strong sense of resistance in my body, like nothing I had felt before. It was new, uncomfortable, confusing. This conversation got me wondering how much longer it will take for me to become present for work, for the cohort, and for class. So what could I do to move forward? How could I make space and take space for my work while I was still navigating a new culture, city, and daily life? While I hoped to answer these questions as quickly as the ones from before my arrival in Germany, the new questions sat with me longer and amplified the discomfort I was feeling before.
It then dawned on me one day at a flea market. On Sundays in Mauerpark, there is a large flea market with food vendors, vintage clothing stands, and local artist booths. Hundreds of people gather here to enjoy their Sundays, and this past weekend some members of the Arthaus cohort and I joined them. While walking around the endless stalls with my friends, I felt that sense of resistance from before slowly disappear and then felt a sense of community take its place. I realized I deeply connect my experience with a place and city with the people that I meet there. For the first time while living in Berlin, I found my sense of place, and my body finally felt present. Under the sun on a beautiful weekend, surrounded by all walks of life, with the best friends and colleagues one could ask for. I am here. Finally, In Berlin.