I’ve been a busy bee these last few weeks. Here’s what I’ve been up to, including how I found my apartment, challenges I’m facing, and more!
This past week has been a doozy. I moved into an apartment of my own, wasted half an afternoon at Ikea picking up apartment supplies, have been scrambling to catch up on work, and have started meeting with freelance writers in the area to ask for their two cents on obtaining a freelancer’s visa.
But I’m getting way ahead of myself. Let’s rewind for a moment, shall we?
I’ve officially been in Germany for a full month, and I won’t lie, I’m feeling a little panicky. If you’ve been following along on my Germany move since the beginning, you’ll know that I have 90 days to complete an extensive visa application to-do list. I arrived in country May 29th— I’ll let you do the math to figure out when my 90 days are up. Looking back at this past month, I know that so much has already happened, and yet it feels like I’ve accomplished absolutely nothing. Have you experienced times like this in your life? I’m trying to not lose my head, since this is exactly how I felt when I first started freelancing. Logically, I know that these things take time and that a lot can happen in 90 days, but emotionally I’m pressuring myself to get everything done now. Which is definitely not going to happen.
What’s Happened in the Last Month
Soon after I posted my last life update, I secured an apartment in an amazing neighborhood here in Berlin. I found the apartment through a website called Spot a Home, which is tailored to foreigners looking to move to Berlin. After hopping around Berlin from AirBNB to AirBNB, it’s so nice to finally have a place to call home, even though I know it’s temporary (if I don’t get a visa, I’ll be forced to leave this place, and if I do get one I don’t plan on staying here longer than I have to).
To be honest, I’m not over the moon about this apartment. While the location can’t be beat, the place itself feels like I’ve jumped back in time and am back in a college dorm room. I have my own room, which I’m keeping tidy, but the shared spaces are pretty grimy and my flat mates are constantly running in and out the apartment for classes, drinks with friends, and so on.
But like I already said, it feels so stinking good to have someplace that’s mine (even if the floors could use a good mopping). Another reason why I so desperately needed to find an apartment is because I have to have what’s called an Anmeldung to obtain a visa. An Anmeldung is essentially a piece of paper that the government issues stating that I’ve formally registered my address with the authorities. Last week, I went to a local branch of government called the Bürgeramt to register my address. It reminded me of going to the DMV to get my very first driver’s license — the waiting room was stuffy and crowded, and I had to wait 30 minutes past my appointment time to actually get into the office to register my address.
Once I got in front of an employee, the entire registration process took maybe 10 minutes. I mistakenly put down my marital status as “Indiana” (oops), and spent a solid 5 minutes explaining to the clerk that I just moved from West New York, New Jersey. (She was convinced I was pulling her leg and that I actually lived in New York state. Oy.). Once we got past the whole New Jersey / New York thing, I was handed a piece of paper that announced my new German address. I was so proud of myself to have ticked off such an important visa to-do — because now that I have my Anmeldung, I can sign up for lots of other stuff, like health insurance and a bank account!
There’s only one problem: once I got home I realized the clerk had put down the wrong house number on the form. So now I get to go back to the Bügeramt this week to correct that error. Yay me.
In happier news, I made friends! There’s this dating app called Bumble that has a “BFF” function that connects women who are looking to make friends. Over the past three weeks, I think I’ve gone on 10 friend dates. That first week I was in Berlin I felt slightly homesick, so I started reaching out to people on the app immediately. I’m so happy I thought to do that! Because I work from home, it’s so easy for me to get stuck in my own head. Although I’m an introvert, I need face-to-face interaction to keep the anxiety at bay, you know?
This Month’s Challenges
I knew moving to Berlin wouldn’t be all smooth sailing, but I’ve had a few big obstacles thrown in my path that are contributing to my stress. First and foremost, I found out that I need two “Letters of Intent” from German companies to get a visa. A letter of intent is basically a non-binding document that states that a company is interested in hiring me. Legally, I can’t work in Germany without a visa, which is why an actual contract isn’t needed. Nowhere on the German government’s website does it state that the letters of intent have to be from German companies. I’ve spent the last year building my freelance business with US clients with the understanding that I simply had to show the German authorities that I was making enough money to sustain myself.
Here’s the second obstacle: any work I do for German companies has to be directly related to whatever job title I put on my visa application. I’m putting down that I’m a freelance writer (since that would allow me to take on any number of jobs), but that means the letters of intent I receive have to be specifically for jobs related to writing. That’s all well and good, but I have no idea how to approach an editor at a publication about getting a letter of intent. My experience with freelance writing has been that I’ve cold pitched editors, and if they’re interested in my story idea they’ll respond to me, and if they dislike the idea they simply don’t respond to my email. So I’m a little stumped how I should go about getting a letter of intent from editors who have never worked with me — am I making sense? If you have any suggestions, I’m all ears!
The main thing I’ve been struggling with this month that’s not visa related is my utter lack of schedule. Between meeting friends, appointments, apartment stuff, etc. I’ve had to get my work done during my few free moments of the day. My body thrives on a schedule, and without one I’ve been waking up cranky and tired and totally unmotivated to do anything productive. I’m hoping things will turn around now that I’m in my own place, and I’m trying to be extra patient with myself. It took me a good six months before I truly felt like NYC was home and figured out my daily routines, so I know it’s unrealistic to think I’ll fully settle into my new life in Berlin after my first week in my own apartment.
What I’m Looking Forward To
I feel like I’ve spent most of this post complaining (sorry!), but to be perfectly honest I’ve just had a lot of ups and downs these past few weeks. But I don’t want to put you off the idea of making a big move, if that’s something you’ve been thinking about. Although there are a few big stressors in my life right now, I’m also SO happy to be in Berlin. I’ve been meeting up with friends every weekend since moving here, and I’m slowly starting to tick things off my Berlin bucket list with them. One of my current favorite activities is walking around the grounds of Charlottenburg Palace. The palace has beautiful gardens and lots of open land to stroll through, and I’ve been going there almost every afternoon to decompress.
I also have a few day trips planned over the next few weeks. I think I’m going to visit some old German exchange students in Hannover in August, which I’m really looking forward to. I met these girls junior year of high school when they came to live in the US for a month, and we’ve kept in touch ever since! I’m also hoping to take a day trip with my friend Flora (who I visited in Hamburg last month). We haven’t decided on a place, but we’ll likely pick a city up north.
Once again, I’ve written a much longer life update than I intended to so I’ll wrap things up now. If you have any questions about my move / life in Germany/ the visa process / etc. please leave me a comment down below!
Tell me: What’s one challenge you’re facing right now?
More posts you’ll love:
- All of my Germany move updates
- 10 Useful Tips for Taking Your First Solo Trip
- 15 Common Solo Travel Mistakes to Avoid
- The Best Gifts to Give a Friend Who’s Moving Away