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Ready for the Island

Isabell Rehm, Julia Endler

What a day... while others enjoy Sunday with their families, I'm just now leaving the office. The only thing standing between me and my well-deserved evening off is the still hectic city traffic. How I hate taking the bus through Berlin!
My phone rings - my boss, who else… While I contemplate whether to answer, my gaze falls on a flyer on the street. "Ready for the island? Retreat Island - Rediscover yourself, find your way back to a calm and harmonious life!" Sounds somewhat esoteric... relaxation, recharging energy, fun, and an unforgettable time away from everyday life, on the other hand, sounds pretty good. I put my phone in my pocket and read the flyer more closely. On the back, there's a route map to the island. Rüdersdorf... I know that place, it's not far from here, an old abandoned limestone quarry. I could go there and take a closer look. 20 minutes later, the train doors open at station "Rüdersdorf, Retreat Island," and I can hardly believe my eyes.

In front of me, a green paradise rises. Enormous planted old silos surrounded by greenhouses. Behind a large sunflower field, I can see a forest with treehouses. A man in an astronaut-like costume emerges from a small shop beneath the green towers and holds something honeycomb-like in his hands. He notices my bewildered look, smiles, and approaches me. "Here, try this, it's fresh from our bee silos." He offers me a cup of golden honey. Gratefully, I take the cup. Music reaches me from a distance, and I walk in that direction. I pass mighty colorful halls where people are doing yoga. Some signs point to a harbor, a treehouse settlement, and so-called Green Labs. I follow some colorfully dressed people to a large square, the so-called Island Heart, where a band is playing.

In that moment, someone touches my shoulder. "Hey Eva, do you remember me?" It's Anna, she worked in the HR department of my company. "Wow, Eva, cool to see you here! Have you been here for long?" "No, I just arrived. There was this flyer, and I wanted to see what's going on here," I say. "Ah, this is the best thing that can happen to you. I've been working 50 hours a week, completely burned out. I had to get out of the company, out of Berlin, just away. Then I ended up here, and slowly I'm finding my way back to myself. It's great that you're here now too!" I smile hesitantly; I'm not completely convinced yet. As I continue walking, I see a large greenhouse where a kind of lecture is taking place. I quietly join in.

"Welcome to Retreat Island, the first place of prevention, relaxation, and mindfulness for anyone who wants to take a break from everyday life! Our island is self-sustainable, which means we produce everything we need. Each person has little tasks during their stay that make this system work. Additionally, you can participate in various workshops here that will help you reconnect with yourself. The costs for your stay are financed by the mental health prevention program of the health insurance companies or by your employer. The project is supported by the WHO Healthy Cities movement. Use this retreat to break free from the daily grind, clear your mind, get creative but above all, have lots of fun!“

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