Checkpoint Charlie. Berlin, Germany

Adam Groffman: A Week in Berlin – Why I Live in… Berlin

Adam Groffman is an American who decided on a flight from Reykjavik to Boston that he could keep on travelling if he put his mind to it. He is currently living in Berlin and tells us more about his life there.

So, how did you end up in Berlin, then?
It was one of those cities everyone had been talking about and all I’d ever heard from friends was how much I’d like it. (I’m a hipster after all…) So I decided to give it a shot.

Have you lived abroad before?
I studied abroad twice during university – once in Sydney and once in London. Both semesters abroad were the best times of my life for different reasons, so I was eager to live abroad again after university. During this trip, I actually stopped travelling once I got to Israel and found an internship so I could live there for a few months. I spent my time in Tel Aviv working at a political nonprofit involved with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict which gave me a hands-on approach to be a part of the peace process.

And what’s so good about Berlin?
Honestly, this city feels more alive than almost anywhere else I’ve ever been. You can feel the energy and the creativity. People here generally just want to be a part of Berlin, to be a part of something bigger and everyone here is actually doing something about it. There are so many things going on and you can tell that big things are going to come out of Berlin from this time. I’ve heard lots of people compare Berlin today to New York City in the 70s and I imagine that’s a pretty apt description.

A Week in Berlin

And what don’t you like?
I don’t like the German bureaucracy. It’s been all sorts of hassle to be an expat here. With lots and lots of paperwork..

Do you feel like an insider or outsider?
A bit of both, really. I’d like to believe I know a fair amount of the city, but I’ve really only been here a few months. But it also seems like everyone else here has only been around for a short while themselves. There’s always more to see and do here, and everyday I find out about something I didn’t know about yet. It’s a big city and there’s a lot more to explore!

How do you support yourself?
I took a job with a travel start-up company so I could help pay some of my bills. It’s a good opportunity to get some inside information and working in a start up environment in the European capital of tech startups has been a great experience. Plus, working while living in a city gives you a whole new perspective and introduces you to a completely different side of the city. And occasionally there’s free beer!

A Week in Berlin, Germany

Any advice for wannabe Berliners?
Want to be a Berliner? Buy a funny hat. Or wear a scarf. Wear anything actually and no one will really give a damn.

Is the move permanent?
It’s semi-permanent. The job I have at the moment is just a short-term contract and I’d like something more substantial afterward. If I’m not in Berlin, I’ll hopefully still be in Europe. At least, after I go home for Thanksgiving this year.

Finally, tell us about something typically Berlin
Something typically Berlin would be currywurst. The best is allegedly at Currywurst 36 on Mehringdamm, but I’m not a big fan. It’s basically just a crappy sausage (ie, a hot dog) covered in ketchup and a little bit of curry powder. Not exactly a high quality meal. Though it is cheap.


Adam is a graphic designer from Boston via Texas, currently living in Berlin. He quit his job to travel and work his way around the world last April/May and has been to North Africa, the Middle East, India, Southeast Asia and a few parts of Europe since then. He writes on his blog Travels of Adam

Adam can also be found on Facebook and on Twitter @travelsofadam

Adam Groffman, Songkran. Thailand

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2 comments to Adam Groffman: A Week in Berlin – Why I Live in… Berlin

  • Doro  says:

    Very nice interview :D I too have moved to Berlin a few years ago, unlike Adam.. I don’t feel like the city is really alive. I’ve been to places where you could actually feel everything pumping and moving around. There was always something cool going on, but Berlin isn’t really that way…

    • The Working Traveller  says:

      Hi Dorothea, this is the first city in this series that I haven’t personally been to and I’m interested in the two contrasting impressions. Berlin does seem though to be a magnet for creative types – most of the comments, email and tweets we’ve had on these posts have come from photographers.

      I love the cyclists in the tunnel photograph on your blog by the way.

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