Living in Berlin as a US Expat – 1 Year Later (Part 2)
Part two of my experience moving to Berlin as a US Expat. After one year, I am sharing my experience and what I’ve learned along the way.
If you haven’t read part one of my experience moving to Berlin, I recommend you starting there.
As a recap from part one:
Why am I writing this?
I want to help others who are thinking about moving to Berlin or have recently moved here. I’ll share my personal stories and advice, with a focus on the psychological aspects of moving.
….. Alright, auf geht’s! (let’s go)
AFTER THE MOVE
Go with the flow
Even with the best planning, life will always throw something at you that you least expect. Things change, so don’t have too high of expectations how you believe something may be.
Because I arrived with a Job Seeker Visa, I had an extra 3 months to find a job that the average US citizen arriving in Germany. Nevertheless, during my job hunting process, I felt like my luck was running out when I was getting into 3 to 4 months of finding anyone who would take me seriously or a company that was the right fit for me.
By July – four months in my job hunting, the corona virus was starting to have an impact on my future jobs and I became concerned for my future living in Berlin.
But by some miracle (and a ton of work), I was able to find a job with a company that would be a very good fit for me. Thanks, Universe.
You can ask many people, German natives or not, German is a difficult language to learn. There is no way around not learning it, especially if you want to live in a German speaking society. But, over time, it will be worth the effort. Why?
- People will more likely be more friendly to you when you try to speak German.
- You will be able more immersed in the culture and appreciate living in Germany more.
- There is a hefty amount of bureaucracy paper work to deal with when you are moving or getting a job. Even being familiar with a little German will help.
Not knowing any, or much German other your simple phrases, made me feel more isolated and intimated from my environment. As a person who works in the communication field, not being able to communicate properly felt like trying to ride a bicycle with no handle bars.
And even though, many many people are accommodating and speak English in Berlin, I still felt like it would hinder a large part of my experience to my life.
The best thing you can do for yourself is to attend a German language school, i.e. Speakeasy or GLS. I attended Speakeasy, and still do many months after I moved here. You can sign up for learning apps, i.e. Duolingo or Babbel, or watch YouTube videos from Learn German with Jenny.
Most importantly, the speaking component is super important in your German learning. It will help you learn it faster and have it stick.
P.S. people are forgiving as long as you try.
Making friends is possible – Unless there is a global pandemic
I have heard it is hard to make friends in Berlin and I have heard the opposite. However, I had a positive experience before the corona virus regulations were being enforced and here are my tips:
- Use online communities such as Berlin Expats, Toytown Germany, Berlin Reddit, and Berlin-Girl Gone International.
- Use Meetups, niche Facebook groups, or event listings such as this Berlin event calendar to find people with common interests.
- Leave your neighborhood/comfort zone and venture out to other areas. Berliners get stuck going to the same places in their kiez. Berlin is HUGE.
GET OUT THERE and meet people! People are usually friendly, and many of them are fellow expats in one way or another. So, it is very easily to learn and connect with other people.
Stay in touch for part 3.