Expat Life Update: Two Months in Berlin
Expat Life Update: Two Months in Berlin
I didn’t begin my German studies like I wanted to. On a positive note, I started this week and will be writing more about my experiences in my February update. I’m super excited to begin and look forward to when my language skills improve enough to make a positive difference in my life here.
The visa application process continues to move along slowly.
When I arrived in November, I was granted a working permit for 3 years. However, it turned out that the government did not grant me the Blue Card for which we’d applied, as they did not spend the needed time to investigate my business degree. After pressure from my lawyer, they finally looked into my case and decided to give me the Blue Card.
It required another visit to the ever-fun foreigner’s office (the ausländerbehörde) and missing a few hours of work. I actually went by myself this time! I’m pretty proud of this accomplishment as every other time I’ve gone there, I’ve had to bring a German-speaking friend to be my interpreter.
Arriving with the expectation that I’d leave with the Blue Card, I was surprised to learn I’d have to wait even longer and come back to the office yet again to pick it up. The purpose of my visit that day was to fork over more cash and have my fingerprints taken.
Oh and then there was a doctor’s visit! Due to some health issues, I needed to see a family doctor who could give me a paper referral so I could see a specialist. I made an appointment with a doctor’s office in my neighbourhood and went over lunch hour, ensuring that I brought along my health insurance papers.
Unfortunately, there were problems. The receptionist refused to let me see the doctor telling me in a very stern and harsh manner that I needed to do something. I couldn’t understand what this “something” was but lucky for me (give me time to keep studying German ), another patient in the waiting room translated and helped to explain.
Without the photo ID, I needed to have someone from my office call TK and get them to fax the doctor my proof of insurance. Again, lucky for me, one of my colleagues was able to help and had it taken care of within 30 minutes so I could see the doctor.
The doctor was super nice and gave me everything I needed. She even apologized for the bureaucracy and joked, asking me not to think badly of her country.
The doctor’s office was absolutely beautiful and so unlike any I’ve visited in Canada. High ceilings, natural lighting, plenty of plants, water and tea available to drink, leather couches and even art books to read while you’re waiting!
Stay tuned as later, I’ll write about my experience when I visit the specialist.
What else to I have to update you after two months in Berlin? As usual, I hung out with friends – having them over for drinks and dinners. I also had a very nice brunch one weekend at The House of Small Wonder, a new restaurant in Mitte.
Of course, there were lots of times spent in cafés doing work and drinking coffee.
Being alone in a bar tends to attract attention and as usual, it didn’t take long for me to make new friends. I met a somewhat drunk German man, whose English skills are about as good as my German skills. As you’d expect, this gave way for some priceless conversation such as when he asked me if I know knives?
My first thought was huh? So I said “Steak knives, butter knives, jackknives, what?”
He replied, “No, knives for fighting. You do this when you’re in university. You fight with knives. This is a German tradition. See my scar?” He proudly pointed to a small cut on his forehead.
He was actually referring to a German tradition of sword fighting.
Talking about his family, he informed me he had an uncle who was a doctor in horses, and you know, “makes it with horses.” Obviously, his uncle is a vet who works with horses, but his explanation was especially funny.
As his finale, he told me that he lived in a castle (apparently this is also a thing), and asked me if he could show me his castle or if I would show him my home on Pappelalle.
I told him that I would show myself Pappelalle and wished him a good evening. Ha ha!
I booked my next trip and will be spending a weekend in Budapest!
From a blog perspective, I was really happy to finally finish a monster post about why you should visit Mostar in Bosnia and Herzegovina. I worked on that post for hours on end, and it felt great to finally hit that publish button.
I’m really happy and thankful to be here in Berlin again! We’re now almost halfway through February and life in Berlin continues to be great (really great)! I can’t wait to share my happenings in my next update.
Follow Me on Instagram
If you like the photos from this two months in Berlin post, follow me on Instagram (@cherylhowardblog) to see updates from my new life in Berlin and on the road.