Updated: May 2
Moving to Germany was not an easy decision.
The easy part was that it came with a job offer AND it was in Europe.
The not so easy parts were being in the beginning of a pandemic, concerns about racism, the cost of living and yet another language.
Here's a few of the things that I love (and have learned to love) in my time in Berlin.
It's so Casual
I've never stressed less about what to wear to school than now (my husband may disagree with this statement). Coming from a very posh British school, this is way laid back and comfortable, and that's totally normal! Dress to do your job - function over fashion and second hand is best. I landed in the right country!
And unless you have a very strong odor, no one will judge you.
🎄 Christmas is Even Better! 🎄
I know, who ever thought it could be more wonderful than in America? But I tell you, walking through Christmas Markets, sipping Gluhwein and seeing all the balconies of Berlin lit with Christmas lights and hanging stars - life is beautiful! Even the build up to Christmas - December is transformed by advent calendar of every type and St Nikolaus surprises in shoes on doorsteps.
Less is More
Everything is smaller, fewer and less (including the size of our living space) and it feels good that way. I like the small supermarkets, little roads, tiny cars and limited selection on the shelves. There's less to think about, contemplate and worry over. The shrinking apartment took some getting used to, but overall, I needs less to be more happy.
My very biased opinion is... Germans are so cute, I love them! Most of the people I've met here are genuinely kind.They are humble and patient and have beautiful gardens. I've heard that internationally, they have a bad name for being rigid and closed-minded, but that is not my experience at all. Except for that one lady at Edeka.
It took me a minute to adjust to this. Sundays are quiet. All shops are closed. No noise. Activities are limited to going to the park, outdoor sports or lots of naps. Sundays are just one part of Ruheziet, Germany's designated quiet time. From 10pm to 6am, plus two hours at lunch, and all of Sunday.
Your neighbors will let you know if you break the rules.
I have no interest in ever driving again so, clean fast trains are so important to me. My commute to school may still be long (one hour each way) but it's easy, reliable and usually clean. Also great about the bahnhof, it works on the honor system. It's just assumed you have a ticket. But you'll pay with embarrassment if you get caught with no ticket!
From recycling to sustainability, Germany has it figured out! I proudly sort all my rubbish into all the right bins. It's surprising how little "trash" you make when your city recycles nearly everything.
Once the weather is warm enough (roughly that's about June), bike paths take me throughout the city - with priority over vehicles.
I was never much of a beer drinker... and then I moved to Germany. Afternoon or evening, in the "garten" (backyard) or the Biergarten, pilsner or hell - I'm not picky. At the height of last winter's lockdown, small breweries and biergartens would sell cups of beer on the sidewalks starting in the morning. Beer is an integral part of German culture, I insist being included.
You know in the movies, how you see small streets lined with cafes and restaurants. It's real. And it's amazing.
Figuring out how to order a coffee... I'm still working that out. I never get what I think I ordered!! But it usually arrives with a cookie, so everything will be alright.
Being an overachiever is not valued nearly as much as having firm boundaries between professional and personal life. Emphasis is put on leaving work at work. That's not easy when you're a teacher! It is helpful however to be in a community where overworking isn't the standard expectation. Now, if I could just regulate myself...
🌟 Europe 🌟
Everything I could dream of is just a hop, skip and a jump away (even during a pandemic)! Well, except for my family...too bad they live across the Atlantic.
The Berlin-Brandenburg Airport leaves a lot to be desired, but once your inexpensive flight lands elsewhere in just a few hours, it will be totally worth it. All the sights, foods, beaches and art!
As much as I absolutely LOVE living in Berlin, I have a laundry list of gripes too. It's not all sunshine and unicorns.
But I'll save that for a later blog post. Stay tuned.
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