Dos & Don’ts of Moving to a New City: Berlin Edition

Moving somewhere new can be tough. Whether it’s a new start on the other side of the world or just a new city in your home country, the quandaries of finding or starting a new job, developing new friends, sticking to routines and managing all of that life admin can send you mad. Into the abyss you shall go of relentless networking events, awkward expat only meet ups and being the only person in your office not to know what the Technikerkrankenkasse is. Starting over is like climbing Mt Everest; you’ll be exhilarated and also peeing your pants, and so these tips ought to make it a little easier.

Do: Go to language school 

Unless you’re lucky enough to already speak French, Spanish and English, German lessons might be a useful tool to immerse yourself into Berlin life. Although every German you meet undoubtedly speaks better English than you do, it’s probably a good idea to attempt to learn the language. With loads of schools offering summer intensive courses (for you freelancers out there), evening classes and conversations meet ups, all at frighteningly low prices, it is a great place to meet others from beyond, struggle together and maybe even learn a thing or two from their experiences.

Don’t: Attend every event on Facebook 

Do you know (and loathe) someone that invades your news feed daily by “attending” at least 10 super-hipster-exclusive-invite-only-in-an-abandoned-building-you’ve-never-heard-of events in Berlin? Well, firstly delete them, and secondly, don’t become them. Facebook is an easy (and shallow) way to find out what’s on in the city. But really, are you going to four events that 10,000 of your closest friends are also going to on a Tuesday night? Honestly, don’t be that guy. Use Facebook events as a tool to build your hobbies (and FB’s database of information to spy on you) rather than shouting to your 200 closest friends that you’re desperately dragging yourself to every event in town.

Do: Join a sports team or creative group 

Whether you’re the crafty type, the reading type or a ball sport extraordinaire, connecting with others around a hobby is a great way to meet people, find out about interesting events and hash out information on everything from your latest visit to the Finanzamt to getting a doctor’s appointment this century.

Don’t: Socialise too much with work colleagues 

It is easy to fall into the trap of spending far too much time with your work mates. Sure, they’re great, friendly and available at the exact same time you are but remember, you see them more than anyone else every single day. You have to face them Monday morning after tabletop-dancing Friday at karaoke work drinks and you only really have work in common.

Do: Spend time alone  

In a city that parties all weekend long, where unemployment is favoured over full time work and späti drinking is a favourite pastime, it’s important to have some alone time. It’s easy to go from work drinks to friend catch up drinks, to a late dinner before an even later club line. But remember, sleep, making a home cooked meal and reading a book are all good things from time to time.  Solitude is just as important as socialising.

Don’t: Start sentences with “well at home we …” 

The great thing about Berlin is most of the time nobody cares about your country of origin. Everybody is from somewhere else, which neutralises any need to go into detail about where you’re actually from and why you’re here. It also means nobody cares what life is like in your home country. So you drive on the other side of the road, start work at 8am instead of 2pm, and believe it or not, no one cares how your local electorate votes. No, really, we don’t care.

Words & photography by Ella King
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