Here is the first part of our "Just arrived" blog series. Cat has just moved to Berlin, Germany, from none other than Ireland and she's giving up her experiences for all to read.... (you can follow Cat on her own blog at catchapigeon.blogspot.com)
So, you've made the decision to move to Germany? Yeah, I did that too. I went to Berlin for a week's holiday, and by lunchtime on day two, I had decided that I just had to be a part of it. One of my friends described it as 'the place where young people go to retire....' and she was right. Vibrant, fun, creative and tragically 'poor but sexy', it seemed to be perfect to me. (If I am honest, that sounds like my perfect guy, but in city form...)
When I got home to Ireland, I immediately turned in my notice at work and got about setting up my 'neues Leben'. This is where the fun started- turns out going on holiday is very different from moving country. Uh oh.
Thing is, there really is only so much you can do before you actually get to Germany. Sure, you can look for jobs, but it really is distinctly more difficult to do this remotely. Accommodation wise, I was really lucky and met a friend of a friend who needed a room mate- many people I know camp out on friend's sofas for, at the very least, a few weeks, until they find somewhere more permanent. Besides booking my flight and looking (unsuccessfully) for jobs online, I couldn't really do much until I landed in Deutschland.
In the meantime I was linked by friends to myGermanExpert. At this stage a new company, it helped people moving to Germany to deal with the mountains of bureaucracy that they would be bombarded with. I thought this was a great idea, but not really knowing what to expect, had no idea of just how useful I would find it.
Wow. Fast forward to the first week in Germany, and I was emailing myGermanExpert nearly every day for advice. There are a lot of new obstacles to overcome in any new country, and Germany is no different. Whilst my German is strong enough for conversations, high level important German.... well... I felt out of my depth.
Registering at the Bürgeramt was one such example of feeling overwhelmed. If I had done it my way, I would have just strolled up to the office, merrily asking to become 'eine echte Berlin Frau, bitte.' myGermanExpert had a way better approach. By which, of course, I mean the correct approach. The website clearly tells you what you need, and it includes much more than just a merry attitude to citizenship. When I went to the Bürgeramt, I followed everything myGermanExpert told me, and unlike every other story I had heard, I was in and out of the place within an hour. (To put this in context, many of my friends had warned me to expect sitting around for hours on end. If I had done it my way, I know this is what would have happened.)
From this simple registration, everything else opens up for you. A word of warning though- Berlin is pretty much the most exciting place in the world, so its hard to remain focused on boring things like banks and taxes and jobs. Why would you bother with that when all of the fun things you could possibly imagine are on your doorstep?!
Part two coming soon....