Berlin Calling

Berliner Weisse green beer

After having lived more than half my life in Scotland, it is time to pack our bags and move on. In the summer we are going to relocate to Berlin where I will take on a new position at the Charité hospital.

Unsurprisingly, this is a very difficult decision with a multitude of considerations.

I arrived in Scotland in the mid 90ies to study Geophysics at the University of Edinburgh. I quickly felt very much at home in Edinburgh and ever since was very welcome here. Life was good. There was a buzz with Labour taking over from the Conservative government. Scotland voted to get its own Parliament. The optimism of the new millennium was shattered with the 9/11 attack in New York, followed by the Iraq War, the big anti-war protest in Glasgow and the huge Make Poverty History protest in Edinburgh. I finished my PhD, got married and our first son was born. We left Edinburgh to move to Aberdeen to work for an oil service company. Our second son was born in Aberdeen. After the financial crisis in 2008 we had the opportunity to come back to Edinburgh to work in the School of GeoSciences as a Research Software Engineer.

We moved back into the flat we used to live in before we moved to Aberdeen. We made very good friends both at work and with people we met through the kids' school. The second decade of the new millennium saw the Tories come back to power. Scotland got a referendum on whether it should be independent which was sadly lost. In 2016 England and Wales voted for Brexit, David Cameron resigned. Theresa May could not make the insanity of Brexit work and Boris Johnson took over and got Brexit done.

A decade of Tory policy saw the UK creeping to the right. Bit by bit life got more expensive and meaner. Working conditions at the University got worse. Our pensions were attacked and I lost a quarter of my income because salaries did not keep up with inflation. In order to improve my salary I would either need to get my role regraded or change roles. My attempts at being regraded where unsuccessful. At the same time universities became more commercialised focusing on income from students. I hugely enjoy teaching students and working with my colleagues. However, the feeling of being part of a capitalist exploitation machine does not sit well with me. Ultimately, I think Tory policy is at play here, too. It is the government that creates the environment in which the universities are becoming more like a commercial business.

There are also personal reasons for wanting to move. Our oldest son has already moved to Germany to volunteer in a care home for a year. He plans to stay in Germany to work as a care professional. Our younger son is looking to work in railway engineering also in Germany. My wife always wanted live in a flat with a balcony. Personally, I am looking forward to moving from the European periphery towards the centre. Being able to look at the departure board in the main railway station and seeing international destinations is great.

I will very much miss the place Edinburgh. I will miss the green spaces in Edinburgh, my beastie safaris in the cemetery, the sea and the hills. I will miss the people in Scotland, my wonderful colleagues and friends.

I am looking forward to living in a big city with trams and subways. I am curious about how Germany has changed since I left. I had never lived in Berlin before so everything will be new and exciting. I am also looking forward to not being regularly confronted by the Tories and their policies.