Why did you decide to move abroad?
I first came to Berlin on a bit of a lark in June 2011. I moved here alone, without a job, not knowing the language, and never having visited the city before.
I'd been happy with my life at home, but I wanted to try something new, and moving abroad to Europe seemed to be the answer.
I gave myself 6 months to find a place to live, get a job, and make friends, all of which I managed to do. I ended up staying in Berlin for 18 months before moving back home to Canada for two years.
During those two years, it became apparent that I missed Berlin. I began to plan my move back and even started German classes in Toronto. Finally, I found a job, and made my way back to Berlin in November 2014.
While the move back hasn't been as smooth as planned, I wouldn't want to be anywhere else right now.
How did you spend your First Month Abroad?
My first month back in Berlin was spent settling into my new job, moving into my new apartment, and reuniting with all my old friends. It didn't take long to settle back into my Berlin life.
When I first moved to Berlin in 2011, I used a few different techniques to meet new people - by taking a German language class, going to a local bar alone, and connecting with other Berliners on social media. Since moving back, I even started my own meetup group with my buddy Adam, Make Friends in Berlin, to help newbies connect with one another. The group now has more than 5,000 members!
What has surprised you most about living in a foreign country?
To be honest, after 4+ years in Germany, I'm not really surprised by anything anymore. :)
I do think aspiring expats who plan a move to Germany should brush up on the language well before they get here. They should also become familiar with the various things they'll need to do once they arrive, like registering their address with the Burgeramt, getting a sim card, opening a bank account etc.
Any cultural/language barrier funny moments?
The first time I went naked at the German spa was a shocking moment for me! As a Canadian who grew up in a strict Christian household, it felt odd to be naked in public. While I felt terrified, the Germans at the spa didn't even blink an eye when I disrobed. I love how the health and wellness culture is second nature for them. Read about my first German spa experience here.
What are your favorite activities in your new town?
You can see a list of my favourite things to do in Berlin right here.
What advice would you give to tourists visiting your new home town?
If you're visiting Berlin for the first time, be sure to hit up all the usual tourist attractions be it the historic landmarks like Brandenburger Tor, Berliner Dom, Berlin Wall or or museums like the Pergamon.
Buy a Berlin Welcome Card to get access to many points of interest around the city. The price also includes unlimited use of public transport.
What is the one MUST SEE?
Visit the German parliament, to see democracy in action. Visit at sunset for an extraordinary view over Berlin.
What do you miss most about home?
Of course, I miss family and friends, but most of all I miss the food and drink from home. This includes silly things like Tim Horton's coffee, Swiss Chalet, and peameal bacon.
I'm getting permanent residency in early 2017, so I'll be sticking around Berlin for now. My profession is in demand here and I want to use this time to further develop myself and progress in a new direction.
As Berlin is in central Europe, I'll continue using the city as a base for travels. Next up is Greece, Romania, and Japan.