It has been a very long process. I had been thinking about it for almost one year before really doing it. Before moving, I was working with great people in Rome and it was not easy to part ways with them. I was fortunate enough to have my girlfriend and my family supporting me with the decision and they helped me in dealing with stuff back in Italy while I was moving here. And now that my girlfriend has also moved to Berlin, I can finally say that the process of moving is over.
As an expat, how much do you feel at home in Berlin?
After the first week I forgot I was a stranger in the City. In Berlin almost every one is an expat, or comes from somewhere else in Germany, and this makes you feel like you actually belong here. The fact that it is such a cosmopolitan city means also that almost everywhere you go, from the huge malls to the small grocery shop, you’ll find people who speak English. And as I said my girlfriend is here with me so I have a place I can really call home.
What do you do in your spare time? Any new activities you have recently picked up?
I play the drums with a colleague of mine in a band called The White Volcano. We rehearse twice a week and we are working on our first EP! Since I’ve moved I’ve more spare time than before. It is mostly due to the efficiency of the public transportation network and to the fact that it only takes a 15 minutes bicycle ride to get to the office. So almost all the time I used to spend commuting to work back in Rome has become spare time here in Berlin.
I also often spend time in parks during Sundays, especially because almost all shops are closed. It is a great way to relax and prepare yourself for the next week of work. And you get to know lots of great musicians and eat a lot of good street food! But one of the best activities so far is attending to Stand Up Comedies. It goes without saying that all the comedians perform in English.
After a year, what still surprises you about Berlin?
I’m still surprised by how everything really works here. From small things like people waiting in line outside of shops and restaurants, to bigger thinks that help improve the quality of life (like public transportation, bike lanes and green spaces).
But I’m also surprised by some really odd behaviors, like people standing still in front of an elevator or a tram door trying to get in before you can get out, or people pushing you to get out of the metro instead of asking you to move. But it is all stuff you get used to pretty quickly.
Are you learning the impossible German?
Unfortunately I haven’t taken a single lesson yet. As I said, almost everyone in the City speaks English and at work English is the mandatory language. If you wanna catch a movie at the Cinema, you’ll certainly find the original English version.
That said, I think that if you really want to blend in you should learn German. I’ll soon start an evening German course and I hope to be able to have casual conversations by the end of the year.
What tips of advice would you give to someone who’s moving to Berlin?
Start looking for a flat before you move here. The demand is so high that you’ll have to “compete” against tens of people for the same apartment. I was lucky with my own flat but it took two months of research and viewing to finally get it. So get on it as soon as you can, ’cause your life will be a lot easier here once you have the accommodation figured out.
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A big thanks to Giuseppe for his time and for having answered to our questions!