Hallo Leute! Are you looking at possibly moving or even visiting Germany? I figured it was well overdue and time to share my own personal experience about living in Deutschland as everyone’s experience is unique. I decided to focus on certain topics and then discuss the cute and not so cute parts of living in Berlin for each topic. So, if you care to learn more, read on!
Cute: Summers in Berlin are heavenly and absolutely beautiful. The cast of the sun over historic buildings highlight the breathtaking architect found all around Berlin. Although there were more cool days than hot this summer, I still enjoyed walking around in my favorite sun dress and sitting outside eating some refreshing ice cream.
Not Cute: The winter season on the other hand is a different story. Even being from New Jersey, I was not prepared to handle the uninvited darkness that the winter can bring. I guess it would make sense since Berlin is northeast of the U.S and further away from the sun. However, it can bring about a somber mood when the sun doesn’t rise until 8 am, to only be greeted by darkness at 4 pm. Not to mention, the forecast of clouds and rain on most days. If you love sand and sunshine, then I wouldn’t recommend Berlin as your first vacation choice.
Cost of Living
Cute: I have never looked more forward to grocery shopping then I do now. Knowing that I spend less than half of what I spent when I lived in the U.S is satisfying. I believe one of the great benefits of living in Germany is that it is one of the more affordable places to live in Europe.
Typically, I don’t spend any more than €65 a week on groceries, which is about $70. Luckily, Germany also has a reliable and easy transportation system, which makes buying a train ticket less of a headache. Unlike most major cities, you can use the same ticket for the train and the bus, and a single ticket costs only €2.90.
Note Cute: Although most of your everyday items are affordable, rent unfortunately is rising and becoming more competitive to find. I was extremely lucky to find an apartment in the suburban area of Berlin with large windows that welcomed in plenty of sunlight, and a balcony that would allow me to enjoy the view of nature. I will say, my rent is more on the higher end, but it’s worth coming home to a place I truly do enjoy.
Cute: Since English is spoken in most parts of the world, Germany is no exception. Obviously, my plan is to learn the language, but it has made it a smoother transition for me to be able to hold conversations in English with German natives.
Most of my students are bilingual and speak multiple languages, so I speak English at work with ease. Sometimes I forget that I am actually in Germany and try to greet my German colleagues in Deutsch as a reminder.
Note Cute: Occasionally, I am reminded by elderly German natives that I need to learn their language. Especially when they have a whole conversation with me in Deutsch and all I can do is smile and nod. The language naturally can sound harsh because of its challenging grammar and exact pronunciations, but lately I have been watching my shows in complete German with English subtitles. So far, I can order my food and ask simple questions like “wie geht’s dir?” which just means “how are you?”
Cute: I would consider Berlin to be safer than even parts of the U.S, but no country can escape crime. Fortunately, my experience so far has been pleasant, with the occasional stares, but I take that as a compliment now a days and keep on pushing. I would think with German bureaucracy it might make someone more hesitant before doing something against the law, as most Germans are keen on following the rules.
Note Cute: Yes, it is mostly safe, but it doesn’t mean I would become oblivious of my surroundings while taking a city stroll. This is still a major city so things happen, and I am always cautious because of that. German’s do not play around about following the law, so if you think about crossing the street when it’s not your turn, just don’t do it.
Cute: I take comfort in knowing that most health expenses will be paid for under my health insurance. Germany has some of the best health care coverages and I understand why. In my personal experience, I have yet to pay a copay for visiting a doctor. Even in this time during a worldwide pandemic I can receive a covid-19 test for free as a teacher at certain locations. Also, my health insurance covers things like dental procedures, physical therapy, and hospital procedures. Yup…I can’t argue with that.
Note Cute: The downside of it is, it can be expensive. Then again, I guess you are paying for the quality of the service, right? Although it can be pricey, 50% of most health insurances are covered by the government, which is the case for myself. Luckily, I also have a contact person that speaks fluent English, but there are services out there that do not have that luxury so you better learn German quick.
Cute: There are endless places to see in Berlin. Some of my favorite spots include Mitte, Wannsee, and Kudamm. In Mitte, I explored the historic city and visited the famous Brandenburger Tor that is now a symbol of peace and unity. In Wannsee, I witnessed breathtaking views of the open lake. In Kudamm, I walked down an endless strip of shopping stores and familiar name brands. This list goes on. Not only that, but it is extremely affordable to travel to a different country within a few hours. I had the opportunity to do that in October and explored the fast pace city of London with only a 2-hour plane flight.
Note Cute: If you are expecting to burry your toes in the hot sand with waves washing on the shore, then sorry because that is a foreign concept in Berlin. I remember first coming here and being told there are so many beautiful beaches to go to, only to be disappointed and realized the beach they were talking about what in fact a lake. It can be quite refreshing in the summer though, but I do miss laying on the beach.
Dating/ Social Aspect
Cute: I think the best word used to describe the dating scene is “free.” There is a much more relaxed and openness about dating here then I have experienced before. People are very comfortable in the uncomfortable so to speak, and Germans are not afraid to tell you the truth and how they feel. To a certain extent, I can respect. I have also met some really good friends who are native to Germany that I could honestly say are caring and trustworthy.
Note Cute: Coming from the States where everyone was your friend even if you just met them for the first time, to being greeted with long stares was definitely an adjustment. Though this hasn’t been my experience with everyone, it was enough to notice that conservatism is real here. So, don’t be surprised if you are welcomed with a serious face, I have learned not to take it personal.
Quality of Life
Cute: To not feel the pressure of having to be productive every second of the day is refreshing. Although, sometimes my American side kicks in and reminds me that I should be doing something with my time. I am still learning to balance it all and that’s okay.
I definitely have to say that most natives here enjoy the concept of life and know what it means to live. During my break, I can ride my bike into town and get a cup of coffee while enjoying the fresh air outside and not be scrutinized for it. Unlike the States, people work to live, and not live to work.
Note Cute: My days of seeing stores that are open 24 hours are over. Since people believe in a day of rest, everything is closed on Sunday. It is actually a German law, so therefore most shopping stores are completely closed, with the occasional late-night Turkish shops. It was something I adjusted to really quick, and now my grocery shopping is done on a Saturday or I’m out of luck.
Moving abroad, especially during a pandemic, has opened my eyes to a whole new light. I suddenly have respect for the differences that are evident in German culture and have come to appreciate my own even more. I have also realized the privilege I have being from the States, which has continuously put me in a state of gratitude.
With the experience I have had so far, I can honestly say I see myself living abroad for quite some time, and staying open to the endless opportunities that will come about from this experience alone. I have also realized the importance of enjoying the small things as that is what has mattered most during these interesting times. I encourage everyone to travel and experience something different than what you are use to. Learning to be comfortable with the uncomfortable is the greatest gift you could give to yourself.