Two months have passed since I moved to Berlin. Depending on who you ask, it might be an amazing opportunity, a dream, or an incredibly difficult feat. I have been through all these three and while I am here, I want to share the reality of living, studying and working abroad:
- You are homesick to a level where you miss your country more than your family. You start to value the noise, cost, lawless life and more you had in your country. You miss your family but miss your country’s festivals, weather and especially food items more. In Berlin, I do find Indian food products but only at Asian stores.
- Taxes are 50% of what you earn in Germany. The mandatory insurances (Health, Travel, Dog, Retirement, work, etc.) and paperwork are another pain.
- The search for jobs (Part-time and Full-time) and apartments is a real drag. Whatever suits your profile gets shortlisted further into English-speaking places. They give you feedback always.
- Trying to fit in the place you have opted to live for the next few years can be a struggle with most of one’s time lying around with no intention of doing anything or just watching their country’s movies and TV shows. People around me tell me, you will get used to the place, give it some time.
- Shopping for groceries exceeds €15 per week, which hurts more when you convert it into your home country’s currency. Funnily, I find Vegetarian food here easily; they are called Vegetarisch food here and also, Vegan food.
- Going out is not advisable because when you come home, you are so tired that you don’t feel like doing anything. This is mostly due to the travel and weather hassles.
- People keep asking me how is the weather, people, etc in Berlin. To be honest, on my first day here; People, the Weather and the German language were cold as f##k to me.
- The biggest scam you see is that OTT platforms change here. When I landed here, I was logged out of Prime Video and Disney Hotstar. Why? Because they are only available in India (paid with Indian rupees). I use VPN because the movies and TV series that are aired here are tailored to German tastes and have German dubs and subtitles. The same problems affect media from other nations as well (For e.g.: Naruto is available in Japanese and German dubs and subs). Netflix is very sly, so using a VPN won’t help.
- Listening to Old and sad Hindi songs on full volume feels good. Giving Gaaliyas (cussing) in open makes one’s heart content.
- When we were young, we loved watching movies in which the hero and heroine used to live abroad while enjoying their lives. It’s not that easy guys, you have work, pay taxes, get rejected a lot and above all, the tension of paying off the debts is another kill buzz.
- The most bizarre thing is people here don’t know what MBA is. So, I tell them “Indians really value education and study as much as possible”.
- I find it frustrating when people claim that love has no language. Why? Because you are aware that language barriers might exist along with cultural ones when you are in a nation where English is a second or third language.
- You know, as adults, it might be challenging to find friends quickly. I only have one friend in Berlin, and we seldom talk. I don’t want to make friends with anyone, even if I’m lonely. Plus, I cannot shrug off the feeling that I am getting old, special credit goes to neck and back aches.
Keeping oneself motivated is quite a challenge. You can make a timetable but somehow that fails. Maybe time is what you need to feel at home.