Writings on various topics (mostly technical) from Oliver Hookins and Angela Collins. We have lived in Berlin since 2009, have two kids, and have far too little time to really justify having a blog.
Recently Oliver and I met up with some friends who had exciting news to share. After years of corporate success in their various fields, (one friend is a solicitor, and the other is a software developer) they have decided to pack up their lives in Amsterdam where they are living - quit their respective jobs, and go travelling around Europe, living in their camper-van for the next 18 months!
To me, that is an ultimate reality. I have such high respect for them to make such a radical and exciting decision, to take control of their life.
It is also something I would love to be able to do with Kai before he starts school. I am not sure how long I would enjoy doing it "rough" in a camper van for two years, but I would try for the sake of the adventure. Seeing all of Europe, spontaneously stopping in one place exploring, and then moving on when you were ready!
You have your essentials -your partner, warmth, shelter, a bed and shower, power and electricity for phones, and most camp sites have WiFi for catching up via the net.
Interesting how perspective works - When I told my gorgeous greek friend about how I wish I was embarking on such an adventure she replied -
" Ange, you ARE doing it. You are living in Berlin - the most exciting and dynamic European city. You have a wonderful partner, and together you are exploring Europe and raising your baby here...because you are here day to day, you do not realise that you are living that way; you cannot have EVERYTHING"
and she is right - Oli and I did just decide one day after much deliberating that we would just pack up and leave Sydney, quitting our jobs, selling all of our belongings and moving to Berlin with just one suitcase each. When we left we had no apartment or jobs waiting for us to go to, we knew no one in Berlin, we didnt speak fluent German, and I was pregnant...
Since being here for almost 12 months, I have had lots of time to think about what it will mean for Kai to be raised "German".
Im slowly but surely coming to terms with the fact that If Oliver and I choose to stay here in Berlin long term, then we will be sending Kai to school here. He will be raised without Oli's or my extended family - his grandparents, aunties, uncles and cousins. I was raised in a big family and I have founding memories of large Christmas's, Easter and family gatherings for birthdays, baby showers, Christenings or weddings. There is always way too much yummy food, lush home cooked smells, lots of laughter and squeals of delight from all the children.
Growing up with a strong family around me significantly influenced the woman I am today.
Don't get me wrong, We have friends great here in Berlin, but it will not be the same as those family gatherings. Blood is always different. You choose your friends, but the family where I come from there is a special bond of support and guidance, there is wisdom. You can ask things of family you cannot of friends. I am often hearing about how my sister can leave my nephew with my mum so she can have a break. That is something I will never have if I stay here.
I wonder if depriving Kai of that is too great a sacrifice.
Then there is all the things Kai stands to gain. I can provide for Kai what I never had, the opportunity to grow up bi-lingial, speaking two or more languages. The accessibility to all of the rest of Europe only an hour plane flight away. a fantastic education system, elite health-care, fantastic cultural opportunities - the art and music scene here is amazing. Really Oliver and I have only begun to scratch the surface of what Berlin has to offer us both individually and as a family....
The ease of travelling for us around Europe will mean that Kai will be meeting new people who can teach him things about the world that you cannot get from a book or the internet. Seeing parts of the globe that hold history, and are unique or one of a kind.
Talking to a friend who recently dropped in to Berlin made me realise that the arts in Australia is the same as before I left a year ago. She told me I made the right choice to leave. She is thinking of moving to Berlin herself- even though she is getting a lot of acting work, she is not satisfied. it is mainly commercials. Australia and Sydney is so small, the arts community is select and funding is still so sparse that it is hard to develop new things. Theater is still so hard to develop, and it is usually the same old things that get produced.
If only I could have an express train to Sydney that would let me go see family and then return to Berlin... but like my friend says, "You can't have everything..."