- Mina Song
I accidentally moved to Berlin
Updated: Mar 21
It’s been nearly three years since my last post. Long story short, I’m living in Berlin on a freelance visa working as an independent linguist, which was not quite my plan.
In August 2020 I finally managed to take off from Seoul and came to Berlin. At the time it was to visit a friend. During my stay I learned about the “artist visa” that grants residency to freelancers and that translators are eligible if they meet certain criteria.
The pandemic was clearly not going away any time soon. If I have to settle somewhere Europe would give me much more options later when the travel restrictions lift, I thought.
The earliest interview slot I found was over two months after my 90 days on Visa Waiver. Thankfully, the German government understands it’s hard to time it especially with the pandemic and booking the interview on time automatically extended my stay until the interview.
My expectations were low. It seemed high level education was really important to be taken seriously in Germany, and I didn’t have one. All I had was my experience. At least I made a smart choice to bring along a copy of some published jobs for potential clients. Who would have thought I would be using them for this.
I would have been happy to get one year and ended up with three years. Madness.
With that settled, I left my friend’s house and found a room in a shared apartment. 6 months later I found a place of my own, a small studio flat with a separate kitchen. I was super lucky to hear of it at all, finding a place with decent rent is really, really hard. Admittedly, I didn’t realize how crazy it was for me to secure such a deal so quickly until much later. My application for the flat (yes you do that in Germany) looked better than my CV though.
Since then life kept rolling in the most fantastic directions.
Two of my best clients “found me” and I still have great relationships with them.
I went to Paris and Normandy to spend quality time with my best friend, and took random trips to Istanbul and Verona. I went to a music festival where I camped for three nights. I enjoyed my summers in parks and lakes around the city, quiet evenings with my book club and mornings at boulder gyms.
I used to joke that Berlin wanted me here. It surely felt like that and still so now.
It’s worth noting that I had zero plans getting on my flight to Berlin with a suitcase. Everything I did after was a decision on the spot and that’s how I made the most significant steps forward personally and professionally.
And this is how I live now. I stopped planning things and started to really pay attention to my days. Do things that make me happy. Give my best to the work I do and the people around me today.
I know now being present doesn’t mean not having aspirations or goals. I still have plans. It’s just I don’t spend time detailing and analyzing risks and feasibility. My German is (very) slowly progressing, my vision of turning my room into a jungle is halfway there, and I’m writing a kind of fantasy novel. I meet up with a few linguists who became my friends venting about work and brainstorming inventive projects that can turn into a business.
Each day I go to sleep happy that I can support a fulfilling life on my terms and still have enough time to be with friends and most importantly with myself. The downside of it is that I keep forgetting to share ongoing stuff online, including my blog. This post is basically a long excuse for the lack of posts for the last two years... it's a good story to come back with though, and I have more brewing in my head. Hopefully I get to put them in words more often now.