Biting the Bullet and Making Friends in Berlin

By Felicity Edwards

 Friends © Amelia Flower
Friends © Amelia Flower

Ask anyone who has ever chosen to uproot their life and move to another country whether it’s an easy endeavour. The answer? No, it’s really not. If the physical move and finding a place to live wasn’t daunting enough, there’s the issue of finding a job, navigating bureaucracy, adjusting to a new culture and, so that you don’t feel like a social pariah, making friends.

By this point you’ve left your old friends back home, and even though you know that they’re only a phone call away and have promised to visit once you’re settled, it isn’t the same. No longer can you form spontaneous plans of drinks and food based catch ups, rants, day trips, and fun excursions. They knew your quirks,habits,oddities, and good and bad points. Now you’re gonna have to start from scratch, just like you did back in school. Is it okay to get back under the duvet, watch Netflix, eat cookie dough, and shun outside society? Well, yes, definitely sometimes. I love doing that on Sundays, but not all the time!

You’ve got to get out there and grab Berlin by the horns! This advice is coming from someone who felt almost paralysed by anxiety after coming to live in Berlin and felt as uneasy towards the prospect of going out there to make new friends as being invited to be Donald Trump’s secretary. That was until I gave myself a good talking to, got some advice, put my feelers out, and thought “screw it, what’s the worst that can happen?” I hope the following resources and tips which helped me, encourage you to do the same. Get out there and...

1. Check out Meetup Groups.

Meetup groups are incredibly handy when you move to a new area, especially big cities. In Berlin there are so many to choose from, and the range of types of groups is wonderfully expansive! From cultural cooking groups to tandem language classes,and nightclubbing to salsa to pottery, and comedy nights, you really should be able to find at least one thing that piques your fancy. Whether you want to continue a fun pastime you did back home or pursue a new hobby, then this is a great site to use! We know it’s much easier to bond with people when you already have similar established interests, so this should introduce you to some cool, like-minded people. Plus, although sometimes you’ll have to pay a small fee to attend certain events, the majority are free. So whether you fancy learning German in a small intimate group at a picnic by the Spree, or trying different local dishes with similarly passionate foodies or networking with budding minds to get your business going, give Meetup a try!

2. Take Advantage of Using Awesome Networking Platforms!

One of the best ways I found to connect with other like-minded women was by using this great established site which linked me with women who shared my similar interests and goals: Clustered! The awesome ladies and platform behind Clustered’s endeavour help you find your own super tribe of women to get to know socially and collaborate with on a professional level. So whether you’re an architect, a teacher, an engineer, an aspiring writer, or just curious to meet other dynamic individuals, the Clustered team can help you. They hold great networking nights in intimate and inclusive environments which don’t have the normal anxiety-provoking and stuffy demeanour that many networking events seem to have. Instead, you’ll find yourself in a welcoming atmosphere enthusiastically discussing shared passions and goals over snacks and drinks. What could be better?! This might as well be the social and professional boost that you’ve always been looking for. With all that said,I highly recommend joining Clustered here.

3. Take up a Language Class.

Enrolling in a language class can be an excellent way to meet people. Arguably, many people who move to Berlin are not fluent in German, and know it is easier to strengthen their language skills once in the country where it’s easier to use day to day. As you become more confident with a language it becomes easier to talk to locals and begin to assimilate into the culture. And as your German improves, you may well find it easier to talk to your German work colleagues, people in bars, your local Späti owner and so on. Having a more of a handle on the language should allow you to feel more confident and able to get out of your comfort zone. Not only that, the beauty of enrolling in a language class is that you’ll be learning with others who have similar goals as you. You might just find a partner in crime to language learn with and strike a bond!

4. Socialise with Your Work Colleagues.

If you’ve already got a job in Berlin, then it is well worth a shot spending time with your new work colleagues outside the office. Chances are that you’re the new person, so ask what they usually like to do outside of work. It’s important to integrate at work and form strong professional relationships, but those are much easier to reach when you’ve bonded with your colleagues and know more about their lives. Take advantage of after-work drinks, go on lunches, look up interesting exhibitions,gigs, or bars, and ask if anyone fancies joining. Don’t project a false impression of yourself, but do talk about things that you’re passionate about and interest you. You’re far more likely to attract the work buddies you want that way.

5. Utilise the Best of Berlin’s Online Blogs and Magazines.

There are so many online blogs and magazines about Berlin. And who can wonder why when there are, at any one time, so so many awesome and varied things to do in this city! Check out some of the coolest online resources to find out the best of what’s on. I recommend Exberliner and I Heart Berlin to look up some of the most hip and happening events the city has to offer each week, from club nights to daring art installations and experimental music nights. You’re in Berlin after all, might as well get out there and see what this crazy and beautiful place has to offer! And if you’re like me, and just want to find new delectable places to eat, then I recommend checking out Berlin Food Stories and scroll their expansive list of mouth watering eateries to try out. So have a browse online, and make a list of places and things you want to go to, and either bite the bullet and go by yourself (you can do it!) or propose the idea to someone from one of my above suggestions.

6. Lastly, Give Yourself a Pat on the Back Well Done - You’ve Already Come so Far!

My last tip is to say that it is important to take a look at yourself and remember how amazingly you’ve done already. I mean, damn, you just moved to another country! That’s huge in itself! You’ve already gotten this far and proven to yourself just how strong you can be. If you can do that, then you can definitely meet some new people, and show them just how much of an awesome person you are!

Keep in mind to be patient with yourself. It takes time to make friends and establish a new life. These things don’t happen overnight and you need to persevere and take good care of yourself in the meantime. Remember that one of the most important, if not THE most important relationships you’ll have in your life is the one with yourself. So remember to show yourself a little love and appreciation. You’ve got this!