Berlin, Europe, Expat Living, Germany, Monthly Updates

One Month in Berlin.

December 31, 2014
First Snowfall in Berlin

It’s hard to believe that just last month, I was at home in Toronto preparing for my overseas move to Berlin.

I’m exhausted when I think about all of the details that I somehow managed to take care of while working a full-time job that involved a four-hour daily commute (yes, really).

I’m not superwoman but I’m sure my kick-ass project management skills certainly helped. As did some very kind friends to whom I will be forever grateful!

On the Canadian end of things, I had to pack, change my address, make final appointments with my doctor and dentist, sell or give away most of my possessions, store and ship things, find a foster home for my cat Izzy, say goodbye to friends … the list seemed to go on and on.

On the German end of things, there was finalizing my employment contract and visa application, finding a place to live, signing up for health insurance, booking a one-way flight, etc.

Somehow, I made it through and found myself in Berlin once more.

Hufelandstr in Berlin Prenzlauerberg

Altwohnungs in Prenzlauerberg Berlin

I made my way to my temporary accommodation (coincidentally or perhaps serendipitously on my old street!), took a shower and immediately went out to visit a friend.

Before I knew it, I was settled into my favourite bar with a glass of wine in my hand and feeling at home in the familiar setting.

It was like I’d never left Berlin.

The next day I visited my new office, registered with local authorities (the bürgeramt) and received my worker’s permit at the foreigner’s office (ausländerbehörde). They granted me a three year visa!

With that taken care of, I was all set. I had a three day weekend ahead of me before I started work on Monday.

I admittedly partied a little too hard (coming home one morning at 8:00 a.m.) but it was a nice weekend, despite losing a day to sleeping in and nursing one hell of a hangover.

Street Art Mural Prenzlauerbrg Berlin

Berlin Tram Greifswalderstr

The following Monday, I started my new job where I work as an agile coach and scrum master (which basically means I’m a modern-day version of a project manager) at a Berlin start-up.

Now for a moment of shameless self promotion – if you are looking for work, check out my guide about how to find a job in Berlin.

I spent the month getting to know my team and learning more about our product.

I also started to think of ways to grow my career and made plans to get some new certifications and integrate myself into the local start-up scene.

Berlin Street Art and Grafitti in Prenzlauer Berg

S Bahn Train at Hackescher Markt

I also travelled and spent a weekend in Amsterdam. It was my second visit to the city, after having spent the better part of a week there 3 years ago.

Amsterdam involved a lot of food and drink as I went on an Eating Amsterdam food tour and had High Wine at the Dylan Hotel. Blog posts on both coming soon!

I also met up with fellow travel bloggers – the lovely Keith from Velvet Escape and Agness from eTramping.

Berliner Dom View From the Spree

Berliner Dom Architecture

December was also a very social month. I often met up with friends – old and new (even blog readers), attended dinner parties, browsed Christmas markets, went to museums and more.

After 2 weeks, I moved into my new flat (I’m subletting). And well, I love it. Not only is it beautiful, it’s a seven minute walk from work!

I then started having friends over for drinks and even dinners. It’s been great to play the “hostess with the mostess.”

Sunset on Pappelalle Prenzlauerberg Berlin
Cheryl Howard Living in Prenzlauerberg Berlin
Cheryl Howard Living in Berlin
Cheryl Howard Home Office in Berlin

Best of all, is the feeling of being back in Berlin.

It finally snowed on Monday and the city turned into a winter wonderland!

First Snowfall in Berlin

Schnee in Berlin December 2014

This past month has been incredible. Despite some minor setbacks (difficulty in getting an account set up with the local bank, misunderstanding how my phone plan worked and confusion surrounding my working visa), life here so far is great.

To look forward to in January – beginning my German studies, studying for my certified scrum master certification and more travel with five days in Sofia, Bulgaria.

I look forward to see what life in Berlin brings in 2015. All the best to you and yours. See you next year!

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If you like the photos in this post, follow me on Instagram (@cherylhowardblog) to see updates from my new life in Berlin and on the road.

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12 Comments

  • Reply Kax January 1, 2015 at 5:25 am

    Hi. I actually left a comment on one of your posts awhile back saying how your blog has really given me good motivation to pursue my desire to move to Berlin. I’ve followed your blog ever since. 🙂

    Great to know that you’re back there! Also setting the wheels in motion from my end. Crossing my fingers for a happy ending. Haha!

    • Reply Cheryl Howard January 2, 2015 at 4:57 am

      Hi Kax –

      That’s really nice of you to say! Thank you. Always wonderful to get this kind of feedback from people.

      I’m soooooo very happy to be back here and hope you can make it here someday as well. I see that you already contacted me through Linked In so hope to talk more soon!

      Cheryl

  • Reply Nancy D. Brown January 5, 2015 at 12:22 am

    Congratulations on moving back to Berlin. How exciting for you! What a trip!

    • Reply Cheryl Howard January 5, 2015 at 6:02 am

      Thanks Nancy! It’s been great so far. 🙂

  • Reply jess January 5, 2015 at 3:24 pm

    I’m moving to Berlin in 6 weeks after being separated from her for too long! Your blog makes me miss that feeling of feeling at home!! I hope Berlin continues to bring you happiness 🙂

    • Reply Cheryl Howard January 5, 2015 at 5:19 pm

      Hey Jess!

      Great news that you are coming back to Berlin. Wishing you lots of happiness here! If you ever want to meet for a coffee, let me know.

      Cheryl

  • Reply Cynthia January 7, 2015 at 1:13 pm

    Hi Cheryl- that is so wonderful you’ve pursued your dream to be back in Berlin… and your December sounded absolutely wonderful. I have to admit though, it made me feel almost a little sick with homesickness for Berlin and a bit sad that I’m not doing anything right now to get there myself.
    Basically, I’m torn between working my way into Germany through moving to another city or just straight up taking my chances and moving there to see what happens. My friend (who lives there) encourages me to do the latter (although she is kind of a more impulsive type) but the fear of not being able to find work/get a visa kind of holds me back. Anyhow, I know I’ll get there someday, one way or another. Freundlichen gruessen 🙂

    • Reply Cheryl Howard January 7, 2015 at 3:16 pm

      Hi Cynthia!

      Thanks for your comment and kind words. I feel very happy to be back in Berlin.

      I was pretty scared to make the move back, even with the promise of a job. It took a long time to arrive at a decision – I even made an extremely long pros and cons list!

      In the end, I took the chance and came back to Berlin. To be honest, I’m still fearful and pray every day that everything will work out. I now work very hard to keep my life going in a positive direction.

      I hope you can find your way back to Berlin too, or elsewhere in Germany! The visa process can appear daunting, but it’s actually pretty easy – whether you want to work as a freelancer or you have a company making the application for you. You just need to figure out what’s right for you. 🙂

      If you ever want to chat more, send me an email.

      Cheryl

  • Reply Sam January 20, 2015 at 5:16 pm

    May I ask how you secured a place to live before leaving? I’m making a similar leap myself this year, and it seems very daunting. Can you recommend any hostels in the area? I may need to go that route while I look for something more permanenet. Help is appreciated! 🙂

    • Reply Cheryl Howard January 21, 2015 at 8:15 am

      Hi Sam,

      I found a place to live through friends – as I lived in Berlin before, I was lucky yo have an existing social network to tap into.

      There are different places to look depending on your budget and what type of living situation you desire. For example, are you looking for a flat share, or to sublet or to have your own apartment to yourself?

      Some good sites for flat shares or sublets are WG-Gesucht and Craigslist.

      Also, I think a temporary flat share will be cheaper to stay at than a hostel while you’re looking for your home.

      Let me know if you have any other questions or concerns.

      Thanks,
      Cheryl

  • Reply Monica March 25, 2015 at 1:56 am

    Greetings from Singapore. I was in Berlin last Christmas and loving it to bits. Now preparing for my big move to Berlin this summer. I love your blog and will check out those languages schools once i arrived, and of course biergarten!

    • Reply Cheryl Howard March 26, 2015 at 10:39 pm

      Hallo Monica –

      Congrats on your planned move to Berlin! Berlin is at it’s best in the summer.

      If you can, study German *before* you get here. It will help you settle in all the more easily. 🙂

      Cheryl

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