Currywurst, the capital of Germany and history, what words come to mind when you think of Berlin? As a city soaked in years of history, cultures and stories, it’s hard to come to one simple conclusion about Berlin. As a 6-month expat living in Berlin, I’ve found the city to be like the ultimate college road trip. It’s fun, entertaining, sometimes rough around the edges, but overall you create memorable experiences. Whether you move to Berlin for a career change, in pursuit of a higher education or simply looking for a new lifestyle, Berlin offers multiple and diverse chapters for your life story.
Berlin might seem like a new idea to you, but for others, it’s already been home to many. Berlin has become a cultural, international and creative hubspot in Europe. The city has seen an average of 48,700 resident increase over the last five years. And the age of Berlin resides between young and younger. With 54% of the population under the age of 45 in 2015, and an average age of 42.7. Don’t forget women being at 50.6% of the population. Berlin offers opportunities for all residents of multiple cultures, backgrounds and ages. Foreign born residents in Berlin hover around 18% of the population. It’s part of what makes Berlin, Berlin. It’s a city of diversity, opportunity and growth. So if you’re a foreigner or “Ausländer” looking to move abroad, Berlin will be the perfect fit for you. If you wish to be in the center of an up and coming cosmopolitan city, Berlin should be at the top of your list.
You’re convinced that Berlin is the next move in your personal and career life. Now, it’s time to prepare physically and mentally for the move abroad. These are five tips to help you make it as a female expat in Berlin.
“Guten Tag” “Wo ist der Supermarket?” These are all important words and phrases to learn before your move to Berlin. Many people might tell you that Germans speak english, and it’s not necessary to learn German. In fact, Germany stands well above the European average (of 56%) of spoken English. According to the EF’s English Proficiency Index (EPI), English is spoken by around 62% of the population, but where you’re likely to find an English speaker on the streets, for your long term happiness and success in Germany, it’s suggested to learn German.
Learning German doesn’t have to be painful, though it’s a very hard language. To be successful in your first six months abroad, it’s suggested to be a B1 (Advanced Beginner) in German. At B1, you’ll begin sharing your opinion in German, and you won’t feel lost and confused when a train is cancelled. You’ll be able to ask “what’s the problem?” in German, making you feel more connected and less lost. Also, telling the taxi cab driver, “Ich möchte nicht” when you’re not interested in going out for a coffee is very important and useful.
Luckily, there’s a huge amount of resources on the internet to jumpstart your language skills before you come to Germany. A few suggestions: Duolingo, Babbel, and a German local startup Lingoda. When you arrive in Berlin, we suggest die deutSCHule and DeutschAkademie Sprachschule Berlin to continue your German language journey.
Connect with Other Career Driven Expats
Berlin is the capital of Germany, so when it comes to finding other ‘like-minded’ career individuals it’s relatively easy. The city has a wide population of different fields, businesses and careers. Because of this diversity, you’ll be pretty lucky in finding a local group in your profession. Facebook is your number one resource when looking for career-support groups. A few favorites include Women in Tech Berlin which aims to “get together women that work in tech, as well as women entrepreneurs, women that are working on their own business ideas, or women that just love tech & startups.” Further, Berlin Geekettes, Berlin Travel Massive and Berlin Startup Employees all are great support groups to connect with locals in multiple fields and networks. Networking is key! Furthermore, don’t forget that traditional networking groups exist in Germany. If you’re part of the Optimist Club, or Lion’s Club in the United States, these types of groups also exist in Berlin. The Berlin International Women’s Club is on the top of my list.
Integrate Into The University Scene
We should never stop learning, and moving to a new country is learning in itself. Supplementing your career with new skills will make you more competitive in your field. Luckily, Berlin hosts four public universities and 27 private and technical colleges. This number is also growing. To begin your higher education search, the website MasterStudies.com helps you find local universities searchable by your background and interest. If you’re not interested in a full degree, remember that these universities offer open, free seminars and workshops. These are great opportunities to network, and hear lectures from local professors.
Form Your Inner Friend Circle
Much like connecting with other career-driven individuals, it’s just as important to make good friends when going abroad. Friendships are what makes the feeling of being far away from home bearable. It’s connections with others that help you make a new place feel like home. Luckily, Berlin offers several, several groups for you to connect with others. Depending on your interests, a few top groups to find local friends are: Make Friends in Berlin, Berlin | Girls Gone International, and berlin EXPATS. The individuals in these groups are in the same ‘shoes’ as you. They also search for new friends, and ways to make Berlin feel more like home. Usually, these groups meet up in local bars in Berlin and form groups to attend the many Berlin events taking place everyday.
Find a Few German Friends
This might seem silly, but it’s very common to find expats teaming up with fellow friends from their personal home countries. Because, why not? You automatically have something in common, so it’s completely understandable. However, for your long term happiness and success in Germany, it’s advised to find a few German friends. Besides, you live in Germany. What better way to integrate into the local culture, learn German and feel like an ‘honorary’ German than to find local German friends. You’re in Germany to advance your career, but there’s more to life than working a 9-5 job. Connections, friends and experiences are what will make your time in Berlin, Germany truly a memorable experience. Plus, what better way to learn how to “prost” [cheers] in German than drinking local German beer with Germans in a local German bar, and learning how to “clink” your glass in just the right German way.
If you’re an inspiring expat, it’s completely doable for you to “make it” in Berlin. Berlin can very possibly be the next exciting, enriching and treasurable chapter in your life story. Use these five tips to jump start your adventure abroad.