I am a travel blogger and writer, based in Berlin. I am regularly writing for my two travel blogs, Ilana on the Road about my travel adventures and Foreigner in Berlin covering exclusively tips and stories from Berlin.
I started to travel at a very young age, and especially since I turned 14, I spent a lot of time living and discovering on my own Switzerland, USA, France, and Japan, among many other countries I fell in love with. After spending a lot of time hard working as a PR and communication consultant, six years ago I decided that it was about time for a big change. Change means usually for me starting a completely new life in a new country.
I chose Berlin, a city I had visited twice before, but for very short amount of time, because I felt – and was right about it – that it was the best place for me for a detox, for taking my time for resettling my life priorities, but also well located for more travel around Europe.
Every experience has its own value in our development, although for the moment we might believe that it only has bad consequences for our future.
I moved here completely on my own, without knowing anyone and without outstanding language skills. The only friend I had here just moved in a new country a couple of weeks before my relocation. I needed to build my new life completely from nothing, using my old habits as a communicator, but also learning every day something new, including a new German word. At the beginning, I only spent my time in Berlin, but after a couple of months, I had more time to discover the rest of Germany and I noticed that probably it would have been slightly different in terms of finding your way as a complete foreigner. However, a successful relocation in a new country should always be based on a serious research, especially from the point of view of work possibilities, at least when your local language skills are problematic.
What is there that you like/dislike the most in Germany?
Before judging a culture and deciding what you like or dislike it, it’s important to spend some time trying to understand it. Various linguistic and cultural nuances might not be obvious from the very beginning.
I was always impressed by the efficient and corruption free bureaucracy. On the other hand, there were some aspects that kept surprising me, in terms of inter-human communication. For instance, why your neighbor next door will rather call the police when noticing that you organize a noisy party – according to some local standards – instead of knocking at your door first and asking you to turn the music down.
Do you think Germany is a multicultural country?
I can share about my experience of living in Berlin, as for the rest of Germany, I just started to see more of it, especially as part of my project 100 Places to See in Germany. As a foreigner in Berlin, I had the experience of knowing people from all over the world, from Texas to Australia and New Zealand. I do have the experience of various cultures while discovering new restaurants in the city, or trying to practice some of the languages I know. Obviously in the last decades, Germany turned into a country of many cultures and, like every new language we learn, a new culture always brings added value to the main culture in the middle of each it co-exists. How much dialogue and understanding exist between those cultures, it’s the job of sociologists and anthropologists to find out. As for me, I am glad to be able to interact on a daily basis with so many different individuals and their rich cultural heritage.
Have you committed any cross-cultural (linguistic) mistake in Germany?
Well, there is part of the daily learning, I suppose. After a lot of learning, including by taking classes at an international language school in Berlin, I still make mistakes, and my accent is very often the wrong one. Confusing schicken (to send – ed.) with Schinken (ham – ed.) was the most hilarious one. In the other hand, I noticed that the native speakers were always supportive and encouraged me to keep talking in German, despite some serious shortcomings. The biggest challenge was to cope with the seriousness of those that like me, learned German as a second language and who are very often more strict and intolerant with basic mistakes.
Do you feel accepted by the Germans?
Every time I meet local Germans, they are curious about where I am coming from, and why I am living in Germany in the first place so I suppose there is a lot of interest for foreigners living here. I did not felt rejected till now, so I suppose everything is fine for now.
What is the opinion of Germans and Germany in your home country?
I grew up in Eastern Europe, where usually people were regarding Germany and its citizens as an example of seriousness and hard working.
Anything else you wish to share with us?
Everyone that relocated to Germany should take his or her time to travel in the country as much as possible. At the end of the journey the perception will change completely and the knowledge about the country will increase. I bet also the German skills!