From Seattle to Berlin: Back to Berlin...and Beyond!
My name is Ian and I’m born and bred in the Pacific Northwest. I attended college in Seattle and lived there until 2007, when I moved to Berlin, Germany for a year. I returned home briefly to get hitched, and now I’m living in Berlin with my wife and having a blast!
1. Why did you move abroad?
I previously had spent a year abroad in Berlin, and after returning home for a couple of years, I realized something was missing in my life. What it was, was the adventure and excitement that comes from living in a foreign country.
2. How do you make a living (working? Tell us about your experience)?
I’m one of the lucky ones that have found work here in Berlin. I currently teach English to children ranging in age from 2-11, which can be very interesting. One of the perks of my job is that I am able to travel all around the city and see many different neighbourhoods that I normally would never see. It has really broadened my idea of what Berlin is.
3. How often do you communicate with home and how?
I’m constantly communicating with friends and family via Facebook and email. Every week or two I will call my parents through Skype, which is a great way to save money when calling home.
4. What's your favorite thing about being an expat in Berlin?
My favorite thing about being an expat is that every day is truly unique. Every time I leave the apartment, it’s almost as if I just stepped off the plane... amazed at how incredible and different everything is.
5. What’s the worst thing about being an expat in Berlin?
I would say the worst thing about being an expat in Berlin is adjusting to German cultural norms. The lack of customer support and the complete disregard of common courtesy can be a bit much. For instance, if a store says it closes at 18:00, that means the personnel will be out the door exactly at 18:00... Feierabend!!!
6. What do you miss most?
There is no doubt about this one: my friends and family.
7. What custom/ habits do you find most strange about your adopted culture?
Hailing from the Pacific Northwest, I can be a bit passive aggressive at times. It can be a shock to be spoken to so frankly. What? This shirt makes me look fat?
8. What is a myth about your adopted country?
That Germans are cold people. I can’t say how many times I’ve been approached by complete strangers and am surprised by their friendliness and eagerness to learn more about you.
Otherwise it’s pretty much all true... Germans eat a ton of sausage and drink copious amounts of bier.
9. What advice would you give other expats?
I would advise them to learn the native language. Even the slightest attempt at speaking the language can really open doors. Fortunately I studied German in university before moving here.
10. When and why did you start your blog?
I started the blog just before my first move abroad back in 2007 to keep friends and family up-to-date.
I find it’s a great way to remember all the fun and strange things you’ve experienced. It’s amazing to look back years and read a post. You are almost immediately transported to that time and place in your head. Plus, it’s a great way to share your fun with others.
Ian's blog: Back to Berlin...and Beyond!
Find out more about being an expat in Germany with Easy Expat's
I enjoyed reading your interview. Just completed mine today about our life in St Petersburg.
Good that you both are positive, enthusiastic, and full-of-energy teachers. Lucky kinder!
I read some of your blog. It made me smile about how exact closing time is in Germany. Russia is 180 degrees out from Deutschland.
All the best,
American Russia Observations
Thanks for the compliment. I really appreciate it.
It is amazing how different some cultures can be, despite the relative proximity and history.
My wife and I have always wanted to visit Russia. I'm looking forward to reading your interview and checking out your blog. I'm sure you'll have a wealth of information for a Russian novice such as myself.
-IanIan 28 Mar 2011, 17:27