Almost a year and a half after making the move, this is what I wish I knew before landing in Berlin.
I wish I did an intensive German course before I started working full-time
Since moving to Berlin in I’m ashamed to say my level of German does not go beyond ordering a kebab. I learned Spanish in school and I can say that there aren’t that many similarities between the two languages. I can’t blame my lack of knowledge of German on my full-time though as I didn’t foresee the amount of time and effort you have to put into learning a completely new language.
So will I ever become 100% fluent in Deutsche? Probably not. But I do strive to be able to hold a conversation with my neighbours and local shopkeeper. Coming from Ireland has made me a chatty person, and if I could translate my chatter from English to Deutsche that would change my life in Berlin a lot.
The level of bureaucracy in Germany
I had been warned, but I did not listen. Anyone who moves to Berlin has been through the hoops of getting your Anmeldung, the official document stating you are a citizen of Berlin. The government needs to know pretty much everything about you, from where you work to your religion so they can tax you accordingly.
What do you need in order to get your Anmeldung? You need your name on a flat contract. Which brings me onto my next point.
How hard it is to find your own apartment
You think in one of the largest cities in Europe that you would find an apartment or a shared apartment (WG) easily. You can if you want to live in an unpopular area. But in neighbourhoods such as Friedrichain, Kreuzberg, Prenzlauer Berg and Mitte it can be impossible to find an apartment where you can get your name on the contract.
There is a housing crisis in Berlin partially caused by Airbnb and rising rent prices in upcoming neighbourhoods like Neukölln. In a lot of cases, people can’t get an anmeldung because they’re renting a room for a few weeks or months. Which has lead to a lot of expats finding themselves in a catch22 situation.
I wish I knew I could buy a Monthly ticket “Monatskarte” from a ticket machine
I just missed the memo on this one. Some months, my good months, I would buy my monthly ticket at the ticket office. Other months I would take a look at the line and keep on walking. Which would lead to burning cash over the month buying single tickets.
After one year and two months, I learnt I could just buy my monthly ticket from the ticket machine on every single train platform in Berlin. Oops.
The sentence “Ich mochte gerne ein _______ bitte.”.
“I would like a ______ please.” – this sentence is the gateway to whatever I want in Berlin, and I only learnt it recently. Thanks to Memrise the best language app I’ve used so far.