Alexander: Legal Guide to Germany
- Recommended Expat Blogs: Berlin
- Madhvi: English Man in Berlin
- Cheryl: Cheryl Howard
- Craig: Dunkin' Berliner
- Mandi: No apathy allowed
- Sarah: Berlin For All The Family
- Zoë & James: überlin
- Ashley: Chasing Heart Beats
- Maike & Anne: Faces Of Berlin
- Federico: A More Quiet Place
- Victoria: The British Berliner
- Joseph: The Needle
- Gosia: greenvana - living green
- Ryan: Take The U5
Please tell us a little bit about yourself. Who you are, where you come from, when you moved to Berlin, etc.
I’m formally German/American but have a strong multi-national background. I like to describe myself as the “western slip” of my family. Being the only one who was born and raised in the States where all other came from Lithuania, Masuria (now Poland), Silesia (now Poland), Russia… It was never my decision to move to Germany. After the divorce of my parents, one fine day my mother broke me the news “Son. We’re moving to Germany; where I come from.” My response was, “Aha.”
When and why did you decide to start blogging about your experiences?
I started blogging after I had published two editions of the book “The Legal Guide to Living in Germany”. The initial spark came from a fellow American that came to me via AmericansAbroad all shook up. With his shaking hands, he gave me letter for me to look at. I had a hard time not to lose my posture and start rolling on the floor laughing out loud. He had a nasty letter from GEZ (radio and TV tax agency) demanding that he register his radio and/or TV set. He honestly believed that he was being accused of having committed a crime. Too many things are not known but whom to reliably ask? Who can give me such valuable information for low to no payment?
Do you have any favorite blog entries of yours?
My favorite entry is about Harry & Sally quarreling in court over the question “When a parent heads abroad who will have the say over the children?”
Tell us about the ways your new life in Berlin differs from that back home. Did you have trouble getting used to the new circumstances? Did you experience culture shock?
I cannot really say anymore how complicated it was to integrate after living here for over 30 years. What I do remember that schoolmates were always teasing me that I cannot correctly pronounce the “ch” in German…
Do you think you were fully prepared for what awaited you in Berlin? If you could, would you change some decisions/preparations you made?
No. I was never prepared. I was more imaging that I would be more like visiting my other relatives. I was actually happy to leave the States because of the divorce.
Every expat knows that expat life comes with some hilarious anecdotes and funny experiences. Care to share one with us?
Immigration in Berlin demanded of a man to take out pregnancy insurance to have full coverage…
Which three tips would you like to give future expats before they embark on their new life in Berlin?
- Dig out all your documents supporting your story/CV! German officials are crazy for such.
- Learn German (as reasonably quickly as you can and use those bits and pieces) and smile.
- Bring important things from your home country!
How is the expat community in Berlin? Did you have a hard time finding like-minded people or fellow expats?
After living in other cities in Germany, I came for professional reasons to Berlin. It was absolutely easy to find like-minded folks. As a square dancer, I just visited the clubs in Berlin and instantly had friends. That was more the private side of moving to Berlin. On a professional side, it was helpful to deal with foreign business persons in the American German Business Club e.V.
How would you summarize your expat life in Berlin in a single, catchy sentence?
As Klaus Wowereit put it: “Berlin is poor but sexy.”