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Well, hello there! (a.k.a. How to Stay in Germany if You’re American)

I’m new here. I don’t mean that I am new to adventure or new to creative outlets – I mean that I am new to this concept of a blog. I’ve spent several days trying to decide what to write about, I took some quizzes, I called my Mom (several times), I took pages and pages of notes and in the end I decided that what’s most important is that I write about the things I am interested in.

Things like:

– People (culture, art, languages, places)

– Business (brands, marketing, research, networking)

– Helping people out (and maybe asking for a little help from my friends)

I don’t think I am an exceptionally interesting person, I like to host dinner parties and go to the river to “grill”, and I live in a city where I surround myself with people from different places. When I am really lucky I get to play music with them.

Sometimes I do things in a foreign language (German) but there are millions of people who live their lives in a second language. Living abroad has given me insight into the challenges and rewards associated with living life as an alien in a way that many of my friends at home can’t understand. I know that I could go back home if I wanted, and that makes me extremely lucky – but the thing is, I like living in another country.

I ventured abroad when an opportunity presented itself and it has been one of the most rewarding and challenging experiences I can imagine. I wouldn’t say that I am brave, just lucky. If you (or somebody you know) find yourself dreaming about coming to Europe (and if you are like me, you will develop the most finely refined charades skills you can imagine), here are some logistical insights that I hope you find helpful:

If you are American, Australian, Canadian, Israeli, or a Kiwi (from New Zealand) and you want to visit Germany, you can stay for three months with a normal tourist visa. If you decide to stay in Germany longer, you will need to visit KVR (Kreisverwaltungsreferat) and it is probably best to take a German speaker with you. I remember being completely overwhelmed by my first trip to register for a freelance permit. German bureaucracy works pretty well, but it is still bureaucracy. You should also be sure to organize yourself for the German system. Things may have changed since my first trip, but I needed:

  • My passport,
  • My CV (the German word is “Lebenslauf”),
  • My “Zeugnis” (reference letters for every job you have on your CV / resume and your school diploma / certifications),
  • Proof of health insurance (Allianz is a good place to start)
  • Reason to stay (I was in an intensive German class)

This will take a while to organize so don’t be the guy who tries to extend your stay after you’ve been in Germany for 2.5 months. 

You will also need to register your residence with KVR, I believe I brought:

  • A piece of mail addressed to me
  • A note from my landlord saying that I was allowed to live there

I was lucky enough to live with another “Auslander” who already knew the ropes, but you will still need to check the details of acquiring a visa carefully because different cities have different requirements for foreign residents and there are times that you’ll notice a big cultural difference between “east” and “west”.

If you are organized, KVR is relatively painless (in the same way that a dentist visit is “fun”). I am certainly not an expert but I have managed to navigate my way through living in another country – albeit I am extremely lucky to have a solid support group behind me.

If this is something you are interested in, here are some links to the websites that I use to answer the hard questions:

www.toytowngermany.com (also useful if you are in AustriaDenmarkFranceItalyNorwaySpainSwedenSwitzerland)

www.internations.org

Amerika Haus

Ausländerbehörde MünchenABH Berlin

Until next time!

Starkbier, Dirndl, Beer
PROST!
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