At the end of November last year, less than three months ago, I made up my mind to move to Germany. I booked a visa appointment at the consulate in Sydney for one week later, and immediately bought a one-way ticket to Berlin leaving 6 weeks later. It seemed like a bit of a crazy idea at the time, and now typing out the numbers it feels a bit crazier, but apparently this was of no concern to the German consulate, who approved my visa less than 24 hours later.
It feels almost surreal now that I have been here for a full month.
This first month in Berlin has been a reminder that time goes very quickly. It is also a reminder that humans are very adaptable. Even though a month doesn’t seem like a very long time, and sometimes it feels like I was still in Australia concocting this plan only yesterday, I also feel pretty comfortable here.
I was very lucky to land here with a support network already in place, giving me a helping hand with the language and the customs and the paperwork whenever I needed. This has made my transition to Berlin life a million times easier than if I’d been doing it alone. Although I did have to figure out how to get the bread out of their containers all on my own – a feat that involved me suspiciously hanging around the pastry area in Lidl until someone else came along and unknowingly demonstrated for me.
Although I visited Berlin once before, I didn’t enjoy the city that much in the few days I spent here (also in January, almost the same time just five years prior). Luckily, though, Berlin has grown on me way more than I expected and, as a few people have confirmed, living here is much more fun than just visiting. This time around I haven’t even really seen the touristy sites of Berlin yet – except the Neues Museum, because I’m a sucker for history. Instead I’ve been trying to take it slow and get used to Berlin as a place to live rather than a place to see.
I try to take daily walks around parts of the city; partially this is to take advantage of the 1-2 hours of sun we’re graced with some afternoons, but it also serves to get me out of the house. Since I had no real plan for when I got here, and definitely had no job, my days have been fairly unstructured and it’s very easy to stay indoors for days on end when the temperature is below zero and it’s rainy outside.
In this first month I have gotten overly excited about overnight snowfall that entirely melted by 10am. I finally bought a proper winter coat, which has made all the difference (naïve Queenslander…). I moved into a flatshare in a neighbourhood I really like, even though everyone warned me about the Berlin apartment market. I’ve increased my bread intake by 200% and also messaged everyone back home who I thought might care that the bread here is much better. I’ve eaten 3 euro falafels, learned to recognise the numbers 1-10 by ear, and nodded and smiled my way through many interactions where I couldn’t understand enough German to contribute.
I visited Munich, Tegernsee, and Neuschwanstein where I met up with friends and we hiked up a mountain, saw the fairytale castle, and ate a lot of good food.
And finally, this week, I started language classes. Even though I can’t pronounce half the sounds (hello, German, how do I say “r”?!) and I mostly just point at objects and try to remember what they’re called (“…das ist baum?”), it’s nice to be making steps to actually understand German.
Overall, my first month here has been fairly slow and easy. I was lucky when I came here that I had people that could help me out and I had enough money to feel comfortable so I didn’t need to hit the ground running to find work. I had no plans or expectations for my time here, and although I’ve had a few sad days where I missed my family and friends and the ease of living in a country where I speak the main language, it has been a good first month. I’m looking forward to the next eleven!