Ok so you have arrived to Germany, lock stock and barrel, which may mean you just shipped all your stuff to Berlin and have done nothing else (guilty). You have all these focused plans to learn the language, integrate seamlessly in to German life, amaze your friends back home with what a bold exciting life choice you have made and how international you have become.
First things first though, you must register at the Bürgeramt. The what? Oh the Anmeldung thing. You have to get a residence permit from one of the local city offices when you come to Berlin (within 7 days apparently, I did it after 2 months but thankfully landed a nice official who didn’t make my life difficult) and believe me when I tell you, you can do nothing without this slip of paper that acknowledges you as a real person living in Berlin. Like what? Eh, rent an apartment and get a job. You also need it to apply for your German Tax ID at the Finanzamt. If you lose this piece of paper you have to go do it all over again which is a giant pain im arch, so mind it very carefully. You have been warned.
So registration complete, you are sitting in your (extremely hard to come by) apartment in Berlinwondering how the f*** do I get a job, why is it so hard to join a tennis club, why do people eat so much white asparagus here and all the while knowing that you really had better open a German bank account as operating from the one in your home country doesn’t make sense anymore and is merely an avoidance tactic or so your German other half keeps telling you.
Avoidance of what? The sinking realisation that going from expat to local is way harder than you thought. Wrapped in a blanket of self-pity you couldn’t be further away from feeling like the international legend you were supposed to be by now. Not even remotely fluent, you feel like you are slowly roasting in a grammatical hell because after 3 intensive months learning German, just when you think you know all the ways to say “the”, something else like the future subjunctive II shows up and all bets are off. Getting yourself settled in a new city takes up a lot of time and is frustrating because relying on word of mouth to tell you what’s what and who’s who in your new area is a very difficult process when you don’t have the language skills, local knowledge or any new pals yet.
If you are reading this thinking, this is nonsense, it’s so easy to move to Germany then I salute you but if like me the reality significantly interfered with the fantasy then you would do well to sign up for free online with ClubGlobals.com in Berlin as you can quickly connect with recommended local service providers who offer expats advice and special deals (such as good language schools, English speaking bank officials and a cheaper sign up to Drive Now in my case). They also run cool monthly events where you can meet other expat souls just like yourself and network in your new community.
Whatever happens though, don’t panic – being international is worth the effort, especially in Berlin.
Do you have any great expat tips for Berlin or some experience you want to share? Please comment below and remember even one comment could help an expat just like you!