InterNations Featured Blog
Recommended Expat Blogs: Berlin
Everybody who has spent time in a different country knows that expat life is not quite like anything else in the world. The confusion of the first few days and weeks, the slow, but steady process of acclimation, the little peculiarities and quirks that might strike you about your new surroundings: almost any situation you encounter can make for a great story. If you are so inclined and want to blog about it, of course!
Our InterNations recommended blog section features talented expat bloggers from around the world. Their offerings to the blogosphere have been selected for their great entries and high quality, whether they may be funny, informative, interesting, deeply personal or a combination of all of the above.
Let’s hear from our featured bloggers in Berlin:
There are lots of little differences between Berlin and London, which I am still discovering and coming to terms with; the language, customer service, the fact that you sometimes can’t find chickpeas in the supermarket…
The language of course makes things challenging. The simplest trip to pick up a package turns into a social experiment. I never know if I get blank stares because I look different, or because of my poor German. It seems I often make the wrong move and things just turn out awkward. Did I smile too much, was there too much small talk, was my last syllable not guttural enough? Culture shock is an understatement.
Nobody can prepare you for Berlin unless you have a job arranged in advance. Or a trust fund. Or mad skills. This place is a money pit suck hole. And I say that with the utmost reverence.
After living in other cities in Germany, I came for professional reasons to Berlin. It was absolutely easy to find like-minded folks. As a square dancer, I just visited the clubs in Berlin and instantly had friends.
There weren’t too many surprises in moving to Berlin, mostly because we had spent so much time in the city beforehand and my sweetheart lived there when he was in university. But if you want to talk about my move from New York to Hamburg, that was something else entirely! Although I arrived with a research fellowship in hand and a pretty good support network along with it, I was a bit surprised at just how exhausting it was to constantly be speaking another language and be gauging cultural expectations.
I wish I had saved a little bit more money before moving here. I had some promises of work that unfortunately didn't materialize and this left me in pretty hard times for a while. I would always emphasize to people considering moving here that whilst it is still a pretty cheap city to live in, there is a reason for that.
You can’t ever be fully prepared for a life-changing experience like this, but we really landed on our feet. The only thing we would change about our decision to move to Berlin, is the time it took to make – we knew we wanted to live here as early as our first visit in 2006. The years we spent procrastinating and “preparing” would have been better spent just being here!
I was prepared, but I also knew what to expect before I moved to Berlin as I had visited a lot prior to moving. One thing I would change would be where we live. We only had one weekend to find an apartment in Berlin and when the rental agent told us we got the last apartment we viewed that weekend, we took it even though it wasn't exactly what we wanted.
We both came to Berlin without a real plan about what exactly it was we were going to do here. Anne-Ruth first finished her internship and Maike her German courses. Luckily there is something about Berlin that encourages people to be creative and start up projects of their own.
I was totally naïf and unprepared. Totally. If I could travel back in time I'd tell my old self that when guys you just met invite you over it's not just “for a tea” and then I'd teach him adjective declinations in German: knowing the language gives you a wider range of opportunities.
I'd been flirting between England and Germany for a couple of years before I decided to make the move so I thought I knew Berlin but really, you can only know Berlin when you truly live in Berlin and just let go!
There are certain things I cannot get used to in Germany: I continue to jaywalk, to stand too close to people, to gesticulate, to be extroverted and sometimes a little unruly. But what I love about Berlin is that the city is full of Germans who feel exactly the same way, and that's why they've left Frankfurt or a small town in the East to be among the other rule-breakers.
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