Tigrest Travel Blog

This is a blog about destinations, food and travel tips

3 months of madness working at Berlin hostel

How it started and how did I end up working at Berlin hostel?

The madness started on a boring and cold February morning, when I departed my home town and went on a long bus ride, heading for Berlin from the town of my studies. It was time for internship at the university, my second year living in Germany. I had never been to the capital before, so journey itself was very promising. It was supposed to be one day trip, I was planning on spending just a few hours in the city of my dreams, and my goal was to attend an interview for an intern position at one of Berlin’s youth hostels.




Finding the hostel was not an easy task and took me 2 hours of walking round and about the area called Friedrichshain. Finally I found the place – it was really nice and cosy. The manager – a French lady – was welcoming and showed me around. There was no real interview, not really. We just confirmed the details of my employment and living arrangements. I was allowed to sleep in a mixed dormitory for free for the first month. The job was about to start in April.

Berlin hostel called Pegasus

Hostel building, front yard

Moving to Berlin

Two months flew by like a breeze, and it was time to pack. I didn’t grab too much stuff with me on this journey – some clothes and my laptop, that’s about it. My first room was 10-bed dorm, I could pick a bed that I like (upper bunk) and there was a locker. Not too comfortable, but hey, I was just 20! You don’t care about comfort when you are that young! Or so I thought. First nights were definitely a struggle – strange people, strange sounds. Later I was moved to 6-bed women’s dorm – much better to my opinion! At least it was easier to sleep.

Pegasus hostel in Berlin

My first bunk in the 10-bed dormitory

First surprise

My first big surprise was that my laptop crashed on the same day when I arrived. Oh great, what am I going to do? Sure, there was an ancient looking computer with super slow internet speed in the hall – but it was for the guests! Nevertheless, I managed to learn its habits and tricks. The more time for new friends. There were no social networks at the time, people were actually talking to each other!
Pegasus hostel in Berlin

Main area of work – reception

The job

The job was quite demanding – I had to start early, around 8 am. My tasks included keeping an eye on the smooth operation of the hostel – attention to detail! For example, I had to greet the guests and show them to their rooms (not carry luggage!). Our hostel had 5 floors – imagine the amount of running up and down the stairs! By the end of the internship I was fit like never before in my life.


Pegasus hostel in Berlin

Reception area, front door

My other tasks included making sure the rooms are ready – so called “quality check”. I have to say that our Polish cleaning ladies, who didn’t speak a word in German or English, did a great job! Another task for me was making sure guests who were bound to leave that morning made it before check-out time. Now imagine a tiny girl walking into a 10-bed dorm and asking for some Mister X to leave please. You wouldn’t believe how many guests were stuck in their rooms for way longer than they should. Also my responsibilities included handing out feedback forms, showing guests to luggage storage rooms, shopping, later on answering emails, making bookings, answering the phone.

Pegasus hostel in Berlin

Guest area – also my responsibility

Fun parts

There were fun parts too – like making a huge board with different national flags for FIFA world championship. Berlin in summer 2006 was crazy, bursting with colours, flags, fans all over and celebrations every day. It was super fun to be right in the middle of it all! Watching football on huge screens is an experience hard to explain – even if you are not a fan, somehow you become part of this craziness.

Pegasus hostel in Berlin

FIFA World Cup board

 Not everything was smooth though – after about one month of working I started to feel pressure from my employer – it was difficult to understand the French lady’s accent and she was often demanding things that were illogical to me. To my relief she left the job soon and there was a much nicer person in her place.
Pegasus hostel in Berlin

Countdown to final game

I have met a few very nice people during my stay there. With some of them we went to visit museums – there was a so called “Thursday night deal” so all museums had free entrance every Thursday between 6 and 10 pm. That’s how I got to see most of them. One Australian girl took me to Jewish museum – very impressive and informative museum about holocaust.
Berlin bike

My dearest friend – this bike took me countless times around Berlin

Bike

After settling in first thing I did on my limited budget was to buy a bike. Berlin is very bike friendly. Later, when I moved out of the hostel and rented an apartment in far eastern part of the city (Hellerdorf), I was cycling to work every day (about 15 km one way). My bike took me everywhere I wanted to go – as I didn’t have any long-term friends, I was mostly alone, enjoying parks, the river, the busy city and its culture, and of course the people!

Berlin bike

Another lazy afternoon

 One day, when it was already summerish warm, I went out of the house and the door behind me locked itself. It was another 5-6 hours until someone was coming home and I was wearing only bikinis. So instead of wasting time sunbathing I just climbed back in the house through I tiny little window about 2 meters above ground! Still wondering how I managed to squeeze myself in there. Must have looked funny but I just didn’t care at the time.
Berlin house

This is the famous window that i climbed into – small one on the right

What did I learn?

There were times when I felt incredibly happy, riding my bike at 2 am from a party, listening to a nice song on the radio, feeling like there is nothing in the world stopping me from doing exactly what I want. Easily the best time of my life in terms of personal freedom and self-exploration, though sometimes it was challenging and demanding. Every day was a surprise – where would I go, what would I do. The whole city was my tiny little universe – I could do anything I want. Money was the issue, of course, Berlin isn’t cheap. But you can manage, if you are smart and do some research. And I went to some weird places! I went to parties alone and met some cool people. I went to all sorts of weird shops, ate street food for almost no money, and used a free coupon to dye my hair red! Cycled literally from one side of city to the other and back, just because I felt sad and needed distraction. But most importantly – I have learned so much about myself! Working in that hotel allowed me to step out of my comfort zone, broaden my horizons. I could truly say Berlin had changed me mentally and physically for a better, more self-confident person. For someone who has no fears of what life might throw at them.

Berlin FIFA 2006

FIFA World Cup celebrations near Brandenburger Tor

 If someone asked me today – how to get to know a city of your dreams, I can’t think of a better way, than to live there for few months, work with the people, use every opportunity you get to explore it! Get a bike and cycle through the streets. It’s not a typical “been there, check” kind of exploring! Taking your time and going places (especially solo) is truly the best way and as a young female I can assure – it is safe too!

Previous

Planning first American roadtrip: Arizona, California, Nevada

Next

20 Ways how to save on airline tickets

1 Comment

  1. This was great to read and sounds like such a cool experience. I can’t imagine spending a month staying in one hostel.

    I kind of wish that I’d done something like this when I was younger but have now probably passed the opportunity.

    Great to read about your experience though.

    Thanks for sharing.

    Mike

Leave a Reply

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén