Today marks 8 months since we packed up our belongings into 3 large suitcases and left Boston for Berlin. I still can’t quite believe that I get to say, “Oh, I live in Europe.”- pretty surreal. It’s been a wonderful yet challenging experience and I think it’s only going to get better!
The biggest challenge for me initially was having to worry about how exactly I was going to legally stay in the country after my initial 90 days in the Schengen Zone. As my 90 days came to a close in December and I was still without a job I was getting pretty stressed out. Didn’t really help that in Berlin it would get dark at 3:45 in the afternoon literally making me feel like I was “in the dark” all the time. Luckily my problem was solved (or rather postponed) when I decided that to sign up for intensive German classes that would allow me to remain on a student visa. In the meantime I was able to secure a free-lance position with an international company and was provided with the paperwork I needed to secure a free-lance visa. Unfortunately the job fell through when not enough people signed up for the English courses, but at least I’d been able to acquire my much desired visa.
I’m no stranger to job searching, as I had taken the plunge twice before when we moved to DC jobless and then Boston. And let me tell you- job searching in 2007 as a fresh-faced college grad with no experience was a walk in the park compared to the Boston job search in 2009 and the Berlin experience in 2011/2012. Luckily things always have a way of working out in the end. In Boston I searched in vain for 5 months, but then landed my dream job at Northeastern (a job I still miss all the time). And here in Berlin I finally received the offer I’d be praying for when in late April I was offered a position as a Kindergarden teacher at an international school in Berlin! I won’t start work full-time until September 1st due to our lengthy trip back to the States this Summer, but I’ve been working a couple days a week pro-bono to get a feel for the school, meet some of my colleagues and get to know the kids. So far everything is wonderful! Each class has between 15-20 kids and 3 teachers (pretty amazing S:T ratio!). Of the three teachers, two are native German speakers and one is a native English speaker. The idea is that the kids are exposed constantly to both languages and learn to understand and speak both through immersion. It’s a really interesting place to work and my colleagues seem great. I’m so thankful to 1. have a job! 2. be still in a school environment and 3. be at a place that will expose me to some great people!
Though the past 8 months did bring some stress with the visa situation and the job search so much more our time here has been stress-free and fabulous! We’ve traveled to 6 different countries, celebrated our first Christmas together, explored so much of Berlin, met some great people and of course, got engaged!!! My highlights thus far include the TEFL program I completed in Prague back in Oct/Nov, traveling with Maddie in Belgium, Prague and Berlin, our Christmas in the Black Forest, our engagement in March and our trip to Ireland for Saint Patricks day. Dave too has enjoyed the traveling, but has been much busier than me on the work-front. He’s finishing up his second semester in just over a month, working part-time at a non-profit and will soon begin his search for an internship come Fall. Good thing he loves his program and economics so much- with all that’s happening with the Euro Crisis it’s an interesting time to be studying finance anywhere, but especially Berlin. When asked about his Euro highlights he mentioned his ski trip to Austria, his birthday trip to Ireland and drinking glühwein at the Christmas markets.
All in all I’d say we’ve been pretty happy here in Berlin and are excited for the next 8 months and beyond!