Tag Archives: expats

Falckensteinstr. All rights reserved by Katja Avant-Hard.

Falckensteinstr. All rights reserved by Katja Avant-Hard.

1. To love dogs. I used to have panic attacks, when I saw a dog, and I never wanted to have one myself. Berlin changed it all. From big to small Berlin dogs never bark, never jump, don’t wear a leash and can sit outside the shop without making a move or noise what-so-ever. See for yourself here.

2. That the artist has to know how to sell. You are the product, the marketer and the seller all in one.

3. To love beer. Before I moved to Germany, I strongly disliked this type of alcohol. Now I can tell the tourists what is what. I also learned that your bathtub is your beer fridge for the house party. And if you haven’t drank beer in -10, you have not been to Berlin.

4. That Berlin has the best Zoo in Europe. When you’re sad, I strongly recommend visiting this place, where you can easily spend the whole day.

5. To make the bridge bounce while dancing on it (Modersohnbrücke in particular). Get DJs, get a good stereo system, invite people, make a party, let the heavy cars still go over the bridge, dance like none is watching, make it bounce, feel it!….

6. That unfortunately yoga and being vegan can be fashionable. After several years of living here I got a flock of sheep impression. Because people without reason are trying to do both and are not realising, that it does not suit every body, and both vegan lifestyle and yoga can do harm. Yet on every corner in Berlin you now will find a yoga center and even though Germany has really good meat and lots of farms and farm product delivery options, Berliners are trying to avoid iron and take B12 Vitamin. Dear readers, everything should be in balance. I have vegetarian/vegan friends and I respect them. Find your reason first, and make sure your body agrees with it.

7. To multi task. German classes in the morning, work until 20:00, meeting friends in the evening + contributing to 10 other projects at the same time.

8. To cook crackers and bread without flour and eggs. I worked for a paleo restaurant, where I learned the secret.

9. To cycle in Neukoelln. Neukoelln inhabitants have a tendency to stop their cars randomly in the middle of the street, they also ignore traffic lights which turns a cyclist experience into survival.

10. To travel with soup pots and baking dishes on the underground. Shared food parties is a normal practice here. Great and sweet idea too!

Kottbusser Tor. A part of a university project.  Don't have the name of the author, if you know please drop me a line.

11. That the trash bags can cost €3,50 when they’re bio  supposte to normal ones for €0,59. Recycling is a big thing here.

12. What means an amazingly relaxed big city life. It’s the capital, but there is no stress and no rush. No rush in the morning, no rush in the evening, no rush for the party…

“There just isn’t really this fear of missing out,” Mr. DeNorch said. “You just feel like wherever you’re at is fine. You’re just having a good time.” … “When you want to go out to the club, you grab a beer on the way,” he said. “You can buy some weed on the street so you can smoke a joint if you want to. There’s all these little things you can do here that you can’t do there to get you in the mood.”

“In New York specifically, there’s a huge amount of stress about what you’re doing tonight and where you’re going to be in the city and who you’re going to be with,” said Mr. Ladner, a founder of the Janus party. 

Read full Article on NYTIMES

13. A feeling of blended genders. Berlin is the city where I’ve received the least amount of compliments. In here you forget that you’re a woman, as it does not matter how attractive you look, people seem to not pay any attention, because they like it all: any size and any gender. There are both negative and positive aspects of this, yet this is typical Berlin.

14. That Berlin is a temporary stop for many of us.

“It’s like living in an airport here in Berlin”
Ben Sömethingorother

15. That work and parties in Berlin are like black and white. “…half of all Berliners make under 1500 EUR a month, and a third less than 1000 EUR” (source)

Berlin is the poorest German city, with highest unemployment rate and half of the expats are receiving the job-centre benefits. Berlin is the place where jobs don’t last long. And it’s also normal if you have not been paid up to a year, but then you might want to go to the lawyer. On what really is happening in Berlin and the city’s mayor you can read here.

As about the parties – they are always here: cheap or absolutely free, 7 days a week. On a hot summer weekday all the parks in Berlin are full with jobless people or people who do odd jobs. Berlin parties more than it works. If you are considering Berlin as your next career destination, please think of Hamburg first.

16. That Berlin’s tech startup scene is far behind the Silicon Valley, and that we Europeans are modest in comparison to brave Americans, who can sell an old three-leg-chair without blinking as a brand new one.

17. That bio products in Germany are at least 95% bio, full stop. My research on eco label in Germany you can read here.

18. That a Berliner is a traditional North German pastry similar to a doughnut with no central hole made from sweet yeast dough fried in fat or oil, with a marmalade or jam filling and usually icing, powdered sugar or conventional sugar on top. 
John F. Kennedy‘s words “Ich bin ein Berliner” are standard German for “I am a Berliner”. Mentioned in Len Deighton‘s 1983 novel Berlin Game, an urban legend has it that due to his use of the indefinite article ein, Berliner is translated as “jelly doughnut”, and that the population of Berlin was amused by the supposed mistake. The normal convention when stating a nationality or, for instance, saying one is from Berlin, would be to leave out the indefinite article ein. Throughout the 1980s, the legend was spread even by quality papers and reputable media like The New York Times, The Guardian, BBC or NBC.

A berliner in a box by Dorit Bialer

19. I also learned that giving a birth and remaining skinny is a normal practice in Berlin. The answer to “how?” I still haven’t found.

20. That it is okey to be explicit, naked and have sex in public spaces. Freedom to everyone. Just be yourself. No judgement, no fashion, no boundaries. From train station to night life. Berlin is possibly the most sexually open city on earth, that also makes a stable classical relationship almost impossible. Berlin greets open relationships, swingers, gay/lesbian/transexual, BDSM and other experimental loving methods.

“Ask any straight woman over 30 and she’ll tell you that the odds of finding a committed man in this city are about as high as unearthing the Holy Grail. Is there any hope for the single Berlin female?”

– See more at:

“Men are like toilets. They’re always occupied, and when they’re not – they’re full of shit. Well, welcome to Berlin!”

                                                                                                                           – Emilie

P.O.P Berlin

P.O.P Berlin


Slutwalk Berlin 2011. Image by: Gregor Fischer

In the last few days there was a lot of attention in Berlin media to Robert Coleman article published by The New York Times. He has shared his Australian band’s summer experience in Berlin. The band came here for recording an album, and got sucked in by parties and never-ending adventures. Read full story HERE

My comment to this is that it really depends on what money you come here with. If you have a stable income somewhere else, then you certainly do not worry about the rent, when the things will be done and  how many times a week you go out. Berlin seems cheap and cheerful.

I came to Berlin with almost no money, and had to look for a job the very first day. Most of my friends are artists, and seem to be quite productive, having exhibition openings, performances, and other cultural events organised. With very little money I get paid, Berlin makes me work twice harder.

When it comes to earning bread-money with music, you start working your ass off. I’ve heard before that music bands don’t last long in Berlin. Maybe it’s too much of a classical sex, drugs, rock’n’roll scenario? You feel extremely cool and free, get too loose and lose control? Let’s face the fact, once you run out of money and can’t pay the rent – you ask yourself a question: to be or not to be? Yes, to be a Berliner doesn’t mean you can be a doughnut

You need to learn how to survive in Berlin, just like you had to in NY in 80s (yeah, i got stuck there a little). Once you get it, you’re in! Peaches made her career living in Berlin, and now she seems to be more active than ever: releasing a film, singing in an opera, recording a video in support for Pussy Riot and hell knows what else.

But here is Berlin survival kit for you

Berlin is the city for  commoners. Even if you’re a hyp you’re down-to-earth. Even without a language you can survive in Berlin. Berlin is a poor city, but it compensates.

Vegetable battle between Berlin-Kreuzberg and Friedrichshain 2011. Image by: Gregor Fischer


Those two come first. There are still a few “house projects”, as they call them now, where you can live for about 150€ (more or less) per month, including the food, which you get for free( a) there is a deal with markets which once a week deliver expired food to your house  b) you do dumpster diving). You can also be a guest at one of their cooking evenings where a plate of vegetarian food costs 2€!

However, if you are lucky with a small room in Neukoelln, then the Turkish market on Tuesdays and Fridays on MayBachufer str. is the best place to go, fruits and vegetables which don’t look fresh anymore are given away for free. Just ask. And the 5kg of potatoes cost only 0,80 cents! BOLU – seems to be one of the cheapest Turkish stores, where watermelon comes to 0,39cents per kilo (wait for summer), a bunch of spinach 0,35 cents, pack of tomatoes 0,60 or less!

There is a group of nice pople, who once a month in Kreuzberg cook a huge dinner for anyone. It is usually on donation principle. I am not sure they have the name. But they organise it on Falckensteinstr.

Brotfabrik is the place to dig some yummy pastry out! Dive hard!

Last summer we got for free: ice cream (promotion on the streets), Wulle beer (Give Box), sandwiches (at open mic night). Never had any of those items for free before, at least not in this way anyway. My friend also got for free Berliner Kindl (promotion) and a pack of Lucky Strike (promotion). Of course, clothing comes for free too, mostly in Give Boxes. Fleamarket (Mauer Park on Sundays) is a good spot for hunting cheap stuff.

And it is true that beer in Berlin is cheaper than water. Today I have purchased a bottle of beer for 10 cents, and the water costs 15!!!

One of my favorite night places is Madame Claude (Check their events here), you pay for the entrance whatever you can between 1 and 6 euros, and Berliner costs €2,30!!!


YES, there are FREE German classes on Kopernickerstr. 10a, sponsored by EU. The organisation that runs them is called Arbeit Sofort. It does not matter how old you are, and where you come from. The only rule is: you have to work somewhere. They ask you to do an internship, but going through several courses I have realised that most of the people do normal jobs. There is a contract between your employer and the school, but there is nothing more involved. No complications whatsoever. And no, they do not have a homepage. Just pay them a visit between 9 and 12 in the morning.

There are also free German classes on Oranienstr, in Kreuzberg. Check their homepage for more infi:

Public art project in Berlin, Rozenthaler Platz, 2010. Image taken from:


Moved in to an empty apartment? No problem, just go outside and walk down the streets. You can get a nice collection of different chairs, vintage lamps, radios, sofas and other pretty items people leave on the streets for others. There is always eBay kleinanzeigen, ToyTownGermany forum, Expats Facebook page, Craigslist and other online heavens.

Berlin does not get rid of old things, they get reused from generation to generation. Berliners still run very old bikes and use 70s prams, this you WILL NOT see in Riga for example.


When summer hits the town, Berliners party outside. Day and night. If you’re completely broke – collect bottles! Go to exhibition openings, and get free alcohol! House parties is the honest way to go. A bottle of wine costs 1,69! Absolutely drinkable.

Flyer distribution, review writing, photography for blogs are the best alternatives to get to events for free.  You enjoy the show and you enjoy sharing it. And there is always someone basking in Kreuzberg. Music is really not a problem.


Image taken by: Alexander Rentsch

Why paying?  U-bahn controllers often wear a uniform  and they are easy to spot, when the s-bahn workers dress casual. If they catch a fake address abroad also works. Or grab a bicycle, and ride wherever you want; the cheapest one would cost you 30 euros and last at least a year. Just give it some love.


The most painful question, I guess. Most people work in shops, cafes, and bars when their German is not that good. And yes, many of them get paid under the table, that’s why the unemployment percentage in Berlin is really high. There are also plenty International companies running their business in Berlin (Berlin is the city of tech startups). I cannot give you a list, because there is no such, and it would be crazy long anyway.  But you can check:

Here is a list of websites, which I found useful: (jobs at startups) (jobs at startups) (jobs at startups) (create your work portfolio and let the employers find you)

and Craigslist, of course, but it is more of a trashcan really.

WOLOHO mailing list has been quite helpful too.

I should mention that lovely companies like: Spotify, SoundCloud, Ableton and many others have an office in Berlin too.

A VERY USEFUL LINK: “How to find a job in Berlin” @

And let’s not talk about Hartz 4.

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