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Madhvi: English Man in Berlin

In our InterNations Recommended Blog section we let you take the spotlight! Expat life in general is, of course, a perfect breeding ground for great, user-generated reads, and life in Berlin makes no exception. Take your time and browse the great blogs showcased in this article!

Please tell us a little bit about yourself. Who you are, where you come from, when you moved to Berlin, etc.

I am a writer of short stories, children’s books, and articles. I was born in London and moved to Berlin in 2009...

When and why did you decide to start blogging about your experiences?

I started blogging pretty much as soon as I came to the city. Berlin is fascinating, and being new to a city gives you a unique perspective…

Do you have any favorite blog entries of yours?

My favorite pieces are those to do with language, probably because I‘m constantly working with and thinking about words. For example, the posts on Translation Idol and English Perverting the German Language. However, the posts featuring my husband, The Bavarian, are always popular. For example; Supermarkets, Socialism and Chocolate Biscuits, The Unsicht Bar and Compass: Drawings from MoMA.

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?

There are lots of little differences between Berlin and London, which I am still discovering and coming to terms with; the language, customer service, the fact that you sometimes can’t find chickpeas in the supermarket…

Do you think you were fully prepared for what awaited you in Berlin? If you could, would you change some decisions/preparations you made?

I was not fully prepared, but I wouldn’t change anything. Not being prepared makes things interesting!

Every expat knows that expat life comes with some hilarious anecdotes and funny experiences. Care to share one with us?

This is one I‘ve blogged about in the post titled Why German bureaucracy is worse than Italian bureaucracy: When I first moved to Berlin, I had an impression of Germans being well-organised, efficient and reasonable. All of these assumptions were thrown into question when The Bavarian and I, having just picked up a coffee table, boarded a tram. We got on, put the table down, then stamped our tickets. A ticket inspector approached immediately. We showed him our valid tickets, but according to him, we had stamped them too late, even though we had not even reached the yet next tram stop. Then followed a big discussion, with The Bavarian waving wildly at the table and trying to demonstrate that it’s impossible to stamp a ticket whilst holding on a table. Despite his best efforts, we got lumped with a fine, and then had to go to the offices of the BVG to protest further. If you’d like to know what happened there, read the rest of the post!

Which three tips would you like to give future expats before they embark on their new life in Berlin?

  • Learn the language
  • Always carry a beer around with you
  • Bring a stash of Marmite, Chocolate Digestives or any specific foods you like from home with you, because you’ll have trouble finding them here!

How is the expat community in Berlin? Did you have a hard time finding like-minded people or fellow expats?

Berlin has a big expat community. One of the pleasures of the city is that there are people from all walks of life here - and they are very welcoming!

How would you summarize your expat life in Berlin in a single, catchy sentence?

Like having brunch; relaxing, satisfying and varied…

Sean Henderson

"The good thing about InterNations is that I got to know the expat community in Berlin as well as internationally minded locals."

Anna Maria Osario

"Through InterNations I met so many other Argentinean expats in Berlin, which made the transition period really easy for me."

Global Expat Guide