Yes, that Berlin.
So apparently most middle-aged parents with kids headed for high school don’t just pull up stakes and move half way around the world. I get it.
But we aren’t most middle-aged parents.
I would be lying if I said that moving to Germany had been a long-time dream or part of any kind of plan. I actually lived in Bavaria in the ’70s (courtesy of my dad and the U.S. Army), but I don’t think I ever thought about coming back. I can’t say that Berlin was really calling my name.
I studied Spanish in high school and college. Barcelona or Madrid or even Mexico City seemed more likely candidates.
It’s funny where life takes you.
Just after my husband and I got married in 2006, we moved for his job on a temporary assignment to Seoul, Korea. We lived there for almost three years and it’s where my daughter, now 15, was born.
Though we’ve lived back in the U.S. since 2009, we kind of always had in the back of our minds an interest in moving away again.
Germany, specifically Berlin, had many of the things that we most wanted in a place to live: dense, urban, walkable neighborhoods, affordable, high-quality public education and health care, good public transit (massive understatement); and a growing emphasis on sustainable, person-centered, development..
I won’t pretend that it’s all been stress-free. Berlin, like most cities in Europe and the rest of the world, is struggling with skyrocketing housing prices due to a chronic shortage of supply. The war in Ukraine has sent tens of thousands of refugees here, further straining its housing and an already crowded school system.
As in the United States, a serious teacher shortage has meant more crowded schools, larger class sizes and sometimes shorter school weeks or days. For students who don’t speak German, they are supposed to be assigned to a ‘wilkommensklasse’ at a local school to learn the language before joining their same-age peers. Now, most of these classes have waiting lists, as well.
There’s also a monthslong backlog at the immigration office and we are still waiting to get our residence permit and work and family visas.
Yet every year, more and more immigrants are deciding a move to Berlin makes sense. A few weeks before we moved, we found out another family on our same street in Decatur was also moving here. According to the Berlin government, 93,200 people from other countries immigrated here in 2021.
There’s even a podcast about the phenomenon – Everyone Is Moving to Berlin.
Jumping on the bandwagon, I have started writing about our experiences as new Berliners on a personal blog, Alt Frau – New Life. If you are interested in what life in Berlin is like – or if you are one of the many also in the process of moving to Berlin – check it out.
I’ll still post personal and professional updates here. But all Berlin-specific content will be over there. So, this isn’t turning into Cathi Finds Herself in Europe. I’m doing a whole other website for that.