Berlin’s Sky: A Thousand and One Colors

Programs for this blog post

Summer in Berlin

By: Rachel Fischler

Berlin is an extraordinary place. It has a heartbeat—a pulse all its own. While I had the chance to see immense variance and beauty across Europe, I realized how lucky I was that I chose Berlin, or rather that Berlin chose me. For context, I chose CIEE Berlin for the measurable things I could get a sense of halfway around the world back in the US: its safe location, vibrant culture, accommodation of English speakers, coursework, housing, staff, among other things. Nevertheless, I could neither predict nor envision what exactly Berlin would feel like. I could have never imagined how much it would bring my soul to life and open my heart to the world in ways unknown. So, I especially write this piece for those considering to study in Berlin who are looking for somewhere that speaks to them: this piece is for the artsy, the visionaries, the imaginative, the wanderers. To try and share such intangible abstract elements—I metaphorically look upwards to Berlin’s beautiful sky to show the city’s endless depth and being.

My First Berlin Dawn

The first time I saw the sun rise in Berlin may have been the most beautiful. The sky was colored in shades of periwinkle, pink and plum. A yellow flame peeked above a horizon that I would come to grow familiar with like the back of my hand over the 5 months I admired the view from my window. My first day in Berlin I drew my curtains and saw this sight—I could barely breathe; its beauty was unparalleled even to the naked eye. I woke up for the first time on a different continent than I had spent the rest of my life on. Such color and beauty would become a common sight in Berlin, even on the cloudiest of days. 

Hidden in every corner and crevice is art, from each distinct U-Bahn stops to almost every building, park, block, and of course—the sky. You walk down the street and there is always something that catches your eye in Berlin. People dress, act, and express themselves in a kaleidoscope of ways. What a gift it was to find myself in the midst of this wonderland! I began to open up and meet myself, feeling freer and more respected to be whoever was my most authentic being than I ever had before.

purple dawn berlin

A Dichotomy

Berlin holds endless paths left to be explored, it is quite a vast expanse. Even places that you feel you have come to learn will always find you again in different ways. I could often see the TV tower, Berliner Fernsehturm, from many points in the city even when I was in a different district than Mitte. I would look up, and I would see it come to me in the strangest places. It looked beautiful, subtle and imposing all at once. Yet, in some way, it was a tether. It gave me a sense of where I was in time and space. 

Berlin’s low skyline is full of creative buildings and wondrous streets, I loved it for that. I have always known cities to mean skyscrapers and uniformity, but Berlin was very far from that—very itself. As you go to new corners of the world and experience culture shock, things will look fundamentally different. You must know that itself is the gift, and in lonely moments remember the threads that connect us to our fellow humans. When I was in Berlin, I never really felt alone or uncared for. On my first day, my first step outside of CIEE, I was greeted with anonymous and random acts of kindness and warmth in unexpected ways. Cloudy days pass by, and many sunny ones too. Yet in Berlin, it is most often both all at once, stunning dichotomies that amuse your mind.

berlin germany tower

Just You and the Sun

Both in our lives, and especially meteorology, our worlds are a constant whirlwind of change. Venturing far away from home can trick us with fear of added stressors and unknown. It is true that there is immense novelty in being transposed from one community to another. More importantly this is exactly what brings magnificent moments to your fingertips, if only you are willing to reach out and touch them. I used to be quite shy and reserved, fearful of most things and a creature of habit. I so desperately needed Berlin, and yet I never knew. Berlin taught me that life is messy and the sooner you come to love this messiness the closer you will be to happiness. All beauty lives in the mystery, but because so many of us learn to fear questions we live only a shell of a what our lives can be. Whether or not you have experienced this yet, there will be some days where it feels like the sun shines for you. 

I remember the day I took this photo at Templehofer feld on a run in February. What I saw was a slice of the universe in this one place. There were people flipping through the air majestically as were masters of the sky doing wind sports on the vast runways. I saw runners of all ages and genders and styles. I saw babies, children, adults, and many dogs frolicking alike. I heard music and laughter and a multitude of languages. I saw people moving, people still, people thinking. I was splashed by cold puddles as wind danced through my hair and the sun warmed my skin. I could see trees, grass, a blue sky, and a bright sun. Outlines of buildings and birds contoured the sky. A moment of just the sun, and I. 

berlin germany sunny park

Night, When Berlin is Neither Awake Nor Asleep

I think Berlin is special for the way that time is less of a determinant of life than human spirit and creativity. The bounds between day and night are blurred. Sunrises and sunsets play games with each other, as you see people headed out to work and people just coming home in the morning. I too have found solace in Berlin’s omnipresent heartbeat. I have wandered freely and openly, from quiet streets to parks to the banks of the Spree River. Always someone new to meet. Always a sky to admire. Always a life to be lived. Berlin is the city of stories just begun. I wrote this poem in that vein:

those days were lavender buds…

sprinkled on the sunshine

sweet skies kissed by sun

vibrant grass against thighs

eyes glistening globes

threads of windy hair

dancing air

beautiful paint brush birds

few words

dandelion crowns rose lips

sweet nectar flower hips

scarlet pebbles

peaceful hearts

stories just begun

all buzz 

and hum

“Du bist verrückt mein Kind, du musst nach Berlin“

I close with one of the most beautiful quotes about Berlin. In English it means: you are crazy my child, you must go to Berlin! Berlin is vibrant, open, and so very free. Berlin is a place that makes you feel compelled to be whatever it is that you are, or what you were meant to always be becoming. Berliners live all sorts of different lives. And of course one could imagine this to cause strife and uneasiness, nevertheless there is a sort of harmony this all creates—du musst nach Berlin!