Monday, July 23, 2012

Our Berlin Orgin Story

A certain question has been coming up a lot lately. How the hell did we end up in Berlin? Meeting new people, chatting on that crazy interconnect known as the internet, and in a recent random e-mail:
Hey ebe/Ian,
Saw your blog/tweet, how did you guys manage to survive without job/housing in Berlin? I am back in Berlin, from Singapore and currently trying to see if I can 'survive' here. I was here in April and loved it thus I am back here now, 2nd day actually!
ebe & Ian in our first month in Berlin 2007

Look at these fools. How did we end up here?

Berlin is just one of those cities people get sucked into. They visit, come back, and eventually they are living here.
We did it a bit different. We had always wanted to live in Europe and after graduating college, we saved money waiting tables and just left with 2 backpacks for Berlin. We picked it because we wanted to be in Germany (Ian is a German major) and Berlin was supposed to be cheap & fabulous.

A&O Hostel
We arrived in the city (after Amsterdam, Venlo, and Munich's Oktoberfest) without a place to stay, no jobs, and no friends. We struggled through the city with our bags on the day of the Berlin Marathon (surreal) and found the wonderfully cheap & horribly loud and student ridden A&O  hostel. Then we searched out housing on craigslist & wg gesucht and found a temporary place that week. This grew into a long-term sublet that I loved. We tried to make German friends, but people were not having it. Two American weirdos trying to chat up Germans in a bar just didn't work.

After a month of $1.70 to 1 conversion rate devouring our savings as we stared at each other in the apartment, afraid to spend money, we broke down and went to a bar with American football. It was at Salamas that we met some of our best friends...first Americans, and then Germans. Ian found a job teaching at a Kita through one of these friends and we were off. I eventually started writing for EasyExpat which has turned into a dream position as content editor where I can write (almost) anything I want.

All it really took was savings, research, and determination. There were scary moments those first few months, but we made it.

Anyhoo, I hope that helps. Visas are obviously the difficult part. Are you American? I wrote about that here, here, and here, but Travels of Adam has the best guide: Also check out all the fabulous expats in Berlin and my Berlin resource page.

Good luck.
I started writing that e-mail just to give a few tips, and it grew into our whole origin story. So there you have it. We came to Berlin with just a few bags and a lot of determination. And it worked.  can't believe it when I hear about people who want to move abroad, but never really get around to it. Of course the road to expat-hood is filled with difficulty, but the most important step is to just do it.

At the Seattle airport, 2nd time to Berlin
I wrote a bit about my expat experience on my work blog at EasyExpat:


~ cheryl said...

Always love hearing these stories - and always enjoy your writings. Glad you persisted in something so important to you.

Anonymous said...

Wow, now that's an adventure to have. I admire that. :) My dad lived in Berlin when it was East/West and he would like to go back to see how much it has changed!

You're adorable, Ebe!

We're Back in Berlin Ja!

We're Back in Berlin Ja!
ebe & ian at Yak-toberfest 2008