Lifestyle

The 20 Berlin Commandments

And lo, David Hasselhoff came down from Devil's Mountain carrying two tablets, upon which were inscribed these 20 Commandments, which he gave only to the truest of true Berliners, and not to those who merely call themselves Berliners, may they be most harshly judged and condemned to an eternity in Munich.

Thou Shalt...

1. Waiteth in line at Berghain with all the riffraff at least once
 You need to at least say you did it.

2. Do thy weekend grocery shopping on a Saturday
For when thou protests that thine mead jugs are empty, and goest to refill them at one of the train station supermarkets that are open on a Sunday, may thou be condemned to an eternity of waiting in line with every other Berliner who had that brilliant idea.

3. Maketh an effort to learn German... at least at the beginning
When thou art three months past thine arrival, and cannot do much more than order a burger at thy local watering hole, thou hast permission to give up thy German course and go forth to more worthwhile pursuits. You tried.
 

4. Surviveth at least one Berlin Winter
And lo, the balmy days of Summer were past, and thy compatriots began disappearing to the fairer isles of Greece, Ibiza, or Mallorca. Resist the urge. Thou must show thyself a true-blue resident of the Hauptstadt by staying on through its darkest hours (literally).

5. Useth thine inside voice
Especially on the U-Bahn. We're looking at you, American expats. 

6. Go West! Occasionally! 
Leave thy Prenzlauer Bergs and thy Friedrichshains, thy Mittes and they Kreuzbergs, and go forth to explore the Western side of town sometimes. It's cool now, swear!

7. Get into Fussball, if only once every four years
Sure, Munich might hog all the action between World Cups, but every four years the whole of Germany gets to root for a quality team. 

8. Knoweth thy local Späti (Spätkauf or late shop) owner
When thou hast thirst, he giveth thee beer. When thou hast hunger, he giveth thee paprika-covered potato chips. Be nice to them.

9. Leaveth thy bottles out as a sacrifice to the gods...
... otherwise known as the Flaschenmänner or “bottle men”.

10. Asketh not whither the spicy food has gone
It’s not here, that’s for sure. If you really want some, get it here.

Thou Shalt Not...

1. Waiteth for thy little traffic man to turn green before crossing the street
Lest thou arriveth ever late at thy destination.

2. Eateth a daily döner after thine first year here
Lest it burn through thine stomach lining and turn thine insides to mush.

3. Moveth here expecting to get a palace for a penny
Sure rents are cheap, and you can find quite a few apartments on the market for very little money. But to find nice apartments that you’d actually want to live in? You need to pay.

4. Useth the U2 to get anywhere but a few stops away
No matter where you’re going, there’s almost always a more direct way to get there than the U2.

5. Useth the U-Bahns and S-Bahns at all in Summer, if thou canst help it
When thou willst have thy senses knocked out, by all means, take public transportation at the height of Summer.

6. Maketh “ich bin ein Berliner” jokes for thou knowest not of what thou speaketh
JFK was not a donut. 

7. Rideth the U-Bahn without a ticket, despite what we may have said before 
The city seems to have hired about 10 times more ticket inspectors, so it’s probably best to buy a ticket when riding the U-Bahn or S-Bahn in daylight hours. The trams and buses, however, are still fair game...

8. Buyeth thy bike at Mauerpark, Treptower Park, or any of the “found junk” flea markets
For thou probably givest money to bike thieves and vagabonds.

9. Pepper thine English with German words, thereby pretending thou speaketh German
Your claim of bilingualism is kaput, my friend. 

10. Brag
Enough already with telling your friends who live elsewhere just how awesome your life is here. They’ll either clobber you or worse -- move here.

Giulia Pines is a native New Yorker who has lived in Berlin since 2008. She has two books out on Berlin, which can be found here and here. You can also follow her on Twitter and Instagram.