Berlin Changing

Today I was checking the new building we are moving into in few weeks. The visit was to check accessibility and make sure everything is right.

I later went with a colleague to have lunch in the newly opened Mercedes-Benz arena. It felt like one of the Egyptian malls in Sheikh Zayed. They even had a fountain. But it wasn’t as dancing as the Egyptian ones. It had a changing rhythm but no music. Probably there is some regulation that prevents playing music out loud.

There were tons of restaurants. We went to eat at 5 guys. It is an American chain and this is their first branch in Berlin. My coworker being from Canada was excited about it.

While we are ordering, the lady asked as where are you guys from? I said Egypt. She started asking what do you in Berlin. I said I work for Zalando. She joked that we are taking all her money to give her shoes.

This wasn’t expected. Me and my coworker even discussed that probably she was trained to do this to bring the American way to things. Because no one asks in Germany even how are you. 

Berlin is changing. It is getting more international, diverse, and more open. And this is good.

3 years abroad

I realized that earlier this month I crossed the 3 years mark since I left Egypt. The two best decisions I made in recent years were immigration and deleting Facebook.

Some friends are surprised when I use the word immigration. It implies I am not going back. I actually don’t know. I can’t say never as I can’t predict the future. But I don’t feel home sick as some of my friends do.

I made the decision to leave because I gave up on a better Egypt. There was a point when things were wrong but directionally right. We lost the direction and that’s when I decided to leave.

I didn’t have to leave. I had a high paying job, was living with my family, and had a great network of friends. Compared to the Egyptian society I had a great life.

I left because I am ambitious. I love my work and I love our industry. I want to contribute to it and make great things. I didn’t have this opportunity back at home but I was willing to sacrifice it and stay in hope for a better Egypt. This is no longer the case. I now am in a place where I can chase my ambitions.

I love living abroad. My freedom is priceless. The freedom to go anywhere anytime I wanted. My independence.

This comes at a price. On top of the list is loneliness. Moving to a new place requires enormous adaptation efforts. A new country, a new language, new job, and new people. It takes time to adapt to all of this.

But I am grateful. I had great experiences. Traveled to different places. Made great friends. And becoming better every day. I read more, I think more, and I discuss more.

I am generally not anxious about the future. I am an optimist. My only concern is the stability of my medical case. It has been stable for few years with minor hiccups but I don’t know what the future holds.

When I first arrived to Amsterdam Shreef[1] took me to a pizza place close to the booking office. I asked him about his experience living abroad so far. He said “We are coming from below zero. We need to first reach the zero”. His words struck me. I have been repeating his words to myself and every newly relocating person I know. I even created a definition for the Zero.

The zero is the moment when you know yourself. You know where you are and why you are there. You know your triggers. You know how to control yourself. You know what you want and how to achieve it.

Immigration is not for everyone. If you have a purpose, you will make the best out of it. Reach your zero. Liberate yourself from your negative thoughts. Invest in your future. Believe in compounding. Do your best. And pray for the results.