Truth be told, I have asked myself this question more than a few times over the past month. But I will leave my philosophical ponderings for later and share with you a little bit of what I actually do with my time here in Berlin.
Going to German lessons
I LOVE LOVE LOVE my German lessons. They are with the Volkschochshule, which is a community college of sorts. The school is government subsidized, so my lessons are super cheap (130€ for 80 hours of classes over 5 weeks). Even better, the students are great, the teachers are great...I just really, really love it. My fellow students are from everywhere: Poland, Albania, Russia, Italy, Spain, Algeria, Ghana, South Africa, South Korea, Brazil, Argentina, Peru. Many of them are approximately my age, with a few young ones and a few older women who are retired. Also cool: my classes are in an old Rathaus (city hall). This is a treat in Berlin, because while there are definitely some cool old buildings, there are plenty of post war buildings that are nearly all on the ugly side.
This part of my life is currently not ideal because it involves me sitting by myself at my computer, either at home or at the library. I'm teleworking part time for my Seattle job, and I'm also working on a paper from my grad school days. I kind of wish I were on vacation instead!
I like going to the library once in a while just for a change of scenery, but for me as an American the libraries here are weird and very controlling. Using the library requires a 25€ membership (though right now I'm borrowing someone's card). When I arrive, I have to put most everything I brought with me in a locker, and to enter the library proper I need to show someone my card plus everything I'm bringing in. They give you a slip if you're bringing in a laptop (I guess so it's harder to steal laptops, because you have to turn in the slip on your way out). You're not allowed to bring in a coat or a water bottle. In addition to this strictness, I was also disappointed that the library isn't pretty! I had this romantic notion about old European libraries filled with beautiful books, but this is not that: it's very modern and utilitarian. The good thing is, when it's such a pain to go in and out it's motivation to just stay in your chair and get work done.
Trying to figure out an exercise routine.
There's a beautiful pool in the neighborhood and it's quite inexpensive, so I've been doing a bit of swimming. The weird thing is, they don't organize lanes for lap swimming like they do in the U.S., so it's kind of a free-for-all.
I've also been trying a bunch of different yoga studios, but have yet to find the perfect one. Yoga classes here are quite different from the ones I went to in the U.S., which is something I wasn't expecting. I've been to half a dozen different classes now, and I've yet to do what I consider to be a standard sun salutation. This is weird, right??
Hannes and I both bought bikes this weekend. So that will also open up some new frontiers for getting exercise (AND getting around). If the weather's nice, we want to do a short bike trip in the countryside this week.
So in conclusion:
Mostly I'm doing fairly unglamorous everyday stuff, and also, things are weird!