Just Wait Till the Sun Comes Out: Changing Seasons in Berlin
The sun is starting to bless us with its presence again, peeking out from behind the clouds just for an hour or two—full days sometimes if we’re lucky. And boy, how lovely it is when you catch it, even if just for a second. It is this time of year that Berliners—both true and transplant—can be seen basking in any tiny morsel of sun they are fortunate enough to snag—taking in its energy, grateful for its return, albeit for just a moment.
I moved here in October. I didn’t really think about the weather and what that would mean for someone moving to a brand new big city but alas, weather is indeed powerful. Coming from California, I don’t think I ever gave much thought to the way the seasons can affect the atmosphere of a place or the personalities of people who live there. Where I come from, seasons don’t change too drastically and life is pretty much the same all year around. Here, however, winter brings on a whole new vibe to the city, one I would now suggest you prepare yourself for if you plan on moving to Berlin anytime between September and June.
It is not just Berlin though. In bigger cities it’s almost normal to refrain from striking up a random conversation with someone throughout the day, but Berlin in winter—in my opinion—is much colder than you may be predisposed to expect. I think a big part of why I felt that way was due to what I believed Berlin to be before I got here: a free, open-minded, some-sort-of adult playground disguised as a city and filled with fun for all. And it is! Berlin is an absolutely incredible city filled with so many opportunities and interesting things and people. It really is the Mecca of freedom and creativity these days but, alas, when it comes to the way things shift with the seasons, it is just like any other big city and just like any other place plagued (depending on how you see it) by seasonal variety in the world. I will agree that seeing the seasons change is beautiful and waiting for the summer through that cold winter and spring is often very much worth it. But can we also agree that winter can be hard? Especially for a new person in an unkown city, trying to meet new people and build their life in a brand new place.
Now, I really shouldn’t complain. I’ve been told I experienced a very mild winter compared with years ago. And to be fair, Berlin has a special winter vibe too: besides the clubs where the cold doesn’t concern you, there are tons of cozy cafes where you can nuzzle in corners with your friends all night too. Nonetheless, it was cold, people were cold, and now it is supposed to be spring and guess what—it is still cold and so damn windy! The sun coming out once in a while is helping, though. People are out more, taking their time more—smiling more.
I lost count of how many people told me to “just wait till the sun comes out” or “summer in Berlin is amaaaaaazing.” Seriously, I was told that so many times it almost started to annoy me. The impatient new girl in town inside of me kept screaming, “I just moved here and I want it to be amazing now!” I wanted to talk to strangers on the U-Bahn (sometimes, not always, I like my earphones in the morning too) or at least to catch a smile from someone caught in their daily grind just like I was. That vibe, easy-going, all-inclusive, we are all connected just-‘cause-we’re-human vibe I (possibly naively) assumed I would find here (and everywhere) hid in the shadows all winter and is only now slowly starting to creep its way back into existence.
But it is creeping its way back. It is true what people say: Berlin transforms in the summer. It can and will be the best time of your life. I’ve been here once in summer, and the vibe of the city was, indeed, amazing. All the best places to waste your days away include outdoor hangouts only properly enjoyed in the warmth of the sun. I’ve stuck it out this long—only a few more months until promised summer bliss.
Photography by Eliza Marin