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Starting in 2020 IRC is excited to announce, that we will be partnering with Friederike von Denffer and Elisabeth Villalta (IRC Independant Consultant) for Intercultural training to support our assignees and their spouses and children on their relocation journey.

We believe that by creating understanding some of the initial pitfalls of relocation and all this entails can be relieved or avoided altogether. We also want to bring awareness that many issues which arise in the interaction with a new culture are normal and with understanding will get better over time.

The benefits of Intercultural Training is to learn to gain more confidence when dealing with Germans, your colleagues or administration in Germany. Get to know the most important cultural differences. We want to support you in your understanding of your new ‚home‘ and present tried and tested strategies for successful integration.

The intercultural training is designed to help participants deal with a „foreign“ culture and to acquire appropriate behaviour to promote successful cooperation and a pleasant daily life. The trainings are designed as an interactive learning environment. Content is science-based, and inputs are brief and built around participants interests.

For more information, please contact us on: info@irc-berlin.com

About the author

Hi there! My name is Juli Buchanan. I have German roots but I grew up in New Zealand and I have been living in Germany since 2004. I love sharing my passion for Berlin and all it has to offer with new ‚Berliners‘ and through my work as a freelance Relocation Consultant with IRC I have the opportunity to do so.

There are many ways to make your way around Berlin if you choose not to own a car. For many reasons shared economy options are a great alternative for transport, good for the environment and far less expensive than the purchase and upkeep of a car. Although the public transport in Berlin is excellent, there are situations where you might want or need a car/bike or scooter. However before you sign-up and use any ride-sharing, make sure you know if you need any third-party liability insurance.

Here are some alternatives for car, bike & e-scooter:

Ride/Car Sharing:

Drive Now – https://www.drive-now.com/de/en

SIXT-share Berlin – https://www.sixt.de/en/share/

Car2go – https://www.car2go.com/DE/en/berlin/

WeShare – https://www.we-share.io/en/

Bikes:

Nextbike – https://www.deezernextbike.de/de/berlin/

DB Call a bike – https://www.callabike-interaktiv.de/

Scooters:

Lime Scooters (& bikes) – https://www.li.me/de/startseite

Circ Scooters – https://www.circ.com/

Carpooling:

BlablaCar – https://www.blablacar.de/

Carpool World – https://www.carpoolworld.com/carpool_GERMANY.html

Disclaimer – when travelling with strangers please always ensure your own personal safety, let a friend or a family member know with whom, when and where you will be travelling.

An English-speaking club can be a terrific way for newcomers to get into the social whirl – or maintain business contacts. There may be no better way for the English-speaking expatriate to get into the swing of German life than to join one of the many clubs and other organizations available to them. Making social contacts is a very important step in being able to call a new place home. It can be hard to gather the courage to go out and join a club but it is a very valuable endeavour.

Women’s clubs perform a large number of services, with sub-groups for all categories of women from „Empty Nesters“ (single income, no kids) to working women.

INTERNATIONAL WOMEN CLUBS

1. THE AMERICAN WOMENS CLUB OF BERLIN E.V. – the American Women’s Club of Berlin is open to women of ALL nationalities who “embrace the American spirit!”  

Membership@AWCBerlin.org

Contact: http://www.awcberlin.org/contact/

2. BERLIN INTERNATIONAL WOMEN`S CLUB

www.biwc.de

Marienstraße 19 / 20
10117 Berlin

Telefon: +49 (30) 28 48 24 50
E-Mail: info@biwc.de

3. THE BERLIN AMERICAN CLUB e.V.

www.berlin-american-club.de

If you want to get into contact with BAC or want further information on the BAC, please send an email to:
info@berlin-american-club.de

The Berlin-American Club e.V. was founded in 1990 by women as a non-profit organization. The goal of the Club is to further friendship, tolerance and understanding among women from the US, Germany and other countries by undertaking projects that benefit people in need.

The Club brings together women of a wide range of nationalities, professions, interests and talents to contribute to the local and worldwide community. We seek to enhance the continuing special relationship between Berlin and the US, while also embracing the international community in Berlin.

The elected board of the BAC is composed of five women; in addition, individual chairpersons are appointed for various committees. As such, the Club is able to respond quickly to local and international needs.

The BAC takes an active approach to fundraising and hands-on projects in support of handicapped and disadvantaged children, senior citizens, international youth programs, schools, women’s shelters, programs for the homeless and worldwide emergency relief, among others.

BUSINESS ORGANIZATIONS

American German Business Club Berlin e.V.

The American German Business Club Berlin e.V. (AGBC) is a not-for-profit organization, presently with nine chapters. Its aim is to support German and American commercial relations and act as a forum for social and business networking. Activities include informal leisure time get-togethers, networking evenings, dinners, charity fundraising, sponsorships and events with keynote speakers.

American German Business Club Berlin e.V.
P.O.Box 08 04 27
10004 Berlin
Germany

Email: president@agbc-berlin.de

Tel: +49 30 224 888 96

Amerian Chamber of Commerce in Germany / Berlin Brandenburg Chapter

The Amerian Chamber of Commerce in Germany (AmCham Germany) was founded in 1903, making it one of the oldest bilateral economic organizations in Europe. It has some 3,000 German and American members. It’s mission is to promote unrestricted competition, trade and investment between Germany and the United States. Luncheons with speakers are held regularly in a number of German cities, and there is also a program of seminars, business conferences, New Year’s receptions and tours of member companies and other institutions of interest. For complete information on Chamber activities, visit its website at

http://www.amcham.de/amcham-germany/amcham-germany-regional-chapters/berlin-brandenburg/

Regional Committee Chair: Torsten Oltmanns, Roland Berger GmbH

+49 30 39927-3366 torsten.oltmanns@rolandberger.com

FAMILIES AND CHILDREN

The John-F.-Kennedy Friendship Center is a non-profit organization established by parents and teachers of the John F. Kennedy School in Berlin, though membership is open to the general public. It is dedicated to fostering the German-American community, sponsoring several bilingual daycare centres and offering various activities for the community, including language classes, playgroups, art, dance and drama courses, as well as holiday celebrations at Fasching, Halloween and Thanksgiving. The John F. Kennedy School, part of the Berlin public school system, provides a German-American bicultural, bilingual education.

http://www.rotary-berlin-international.de/

eMail: info (at) rotary-berlin-international.de

“Chartered in November 2009, we are the only Rotary Club dedicated to Berlin’s international community. Our 46 members represent 14 nations. All our meetings are held in English, which makes us the ideal Rotary Club for expatriates living in Berlin as well as visiting Rotarians from around the world.”

INTERNATIONAL UNDERSTANDING

ASPEN INSTITUTE GERMANY E.V.


Friedrichstraße 60
10117 Berlin | Germany
Tel.: +49 (0) 30 804 890 15
Fax : +49 (0) 30 804 890 33
Email: info@aspeninstitute.de

Contact over the website: http://www.aspeninstitute.de/kontakt/?lang=en

www.aspeninstitute.de

The Aspen Institute Germany was founded in 1974 as the first international Aspen affiliate. In keeping with the Aspen mission, Aspen Germany seeks to promote an international dialog on the values, ideals and ideas that are necessary to master the challenges of a globalized world. To this purpose, Aspen Germany invites leading personalities from politics, business and society to participate in conference programs and discussion groups. Aspen Germany is a nonprofit organization financed by the Shepard Stone Foundation, public funding and private donations. It is headquartered in Berlin; an increasing proportion of its events, however, are carried out in key industrial states such as Baden-Württemberg and Bavaria.

The American Academy in Berlin

The American Academy in Berlin GmbH

Am Sandwerder 17-19

14109 Berlin

Germany

Phone: +49 (30) 804 83 118

Fax: +49 (30) 804 83 111

Email: mailbox@americanacademy.de

To register for an evening lecture: program(at)americanacademy.de

The American Academy in Berlin was established in 1994. Its primary goal is to foster greater understanding and dialogue between the people of the United States and the people of Germany through its presence in Berlin, a city with which the United States should maintain its unique cultural, social, political, and historical links.

EXPAT CLUBS

Club Globals, Home of Berlin Expats

Berlin Office:

Friedrichstr. 191,

10117, Berlin

Managing Director: Mario Paladini

Phone:+49 30 56795499

Email: mail [at] ClubGLOBALS.com

Online contact: http://clubglobals.com/contact/

FROM EXPAT TO LOCAL, Club GLOBALS helps makes international life easier,

by connecting expats with recommended service providers online and at exclusive events.

InterNATIONS

Berlin Expat Community for Berlin expats

Free membership

Online contact: http://www.internations.org/berlin-expats

“Our network enables you to connect with as many of them as possible, both online and face to face. Starting from online forums and all the way to real-life events going on in Berlin on a weekly basis, the opportunities for connecting with global minds are more numerous than ever. You can also use InterNations to join trips to famous German landmarks around Berlin, or simply organize them yourself.”

Stand 10.2018

Author: Ariane Almerood – including edits by Juli Buchanan

Winter clothing for children (and adults) is taken very seriously in Germany, mainly because it can be very cold and people like to enjoy the outdoors in all weather. If you are coming from climates which have mild or no winters then this will be new to you. It’s time to get your family winter ready!

Berlin can get cold in winter with temperatures dropping well below freezing and if you are lucky there can even be snow on the ground for weeks at a time. However, all buildings are well heated and therefore especially for kindergarten and school children, the so-called ‚onion look‘ otherwise known as layering is the best bet.

One piece snow suits (Schneeanzug) are a good investment for smaller children, they can dress normally underneath and pull this on when going outside and it is a good item for children to be able to put on themselves. For older children, from around 6 years old a pair of snow pants and a jacket are often more appropriate.

Tights (Strumpfhosen)- are for both boys and girls, they come in all kinds of colours and thickness. They are worn under trousers or dresses and for smaller children in KiTa children will wear them around in place of trousers when playing inside.

Bodys (Bodysuits/Onsie) – Until children are out of nappies, they wear bodysuits under their clothing. Germans like to keep the kidneys warm and these ensure the childrens backs are not exposed to the cold. This is basically a t-shirt (short of longs sleeved) which is connected by snaps at the crotch. Littlies who sleep at KiTa will most likely sleep in this item and tights for their afternoon nap.

Warm winter boots (Stiefel) – essential item for children playing outside in cold weather as gumboots, although great for keeping feet dry, they can’t keep them warm. It is worthwhile to invest in shoes which are both weatherproof and warm.

Hats, scarves, gloves (Mützen, Shal, Handschuhe) – all these items are a must-have, having a couple of each is highly recommended as they are also the items which seem to easily go missing at KiTa and school.

Slippers (Hausschuhe) – all KiTas and many schools will have children wear slippers when indoors, especially in winter to keep the spaces the children are in clean.

Rain pants (Matschhosen) – another must-have for those wet days when it is not cold enough for snow gear. KiTas and schools will require children to have a pair there at all times.

Thermals (Thermo-Unterwäsche) – for those really very chilly days, thermal underclothes are very good to have – mainly if children are playing sports outside or for playing in the snow and skiing.

All of these items can be purchased new or secondhand. There are many great secondhand stores around Berlin and it is very worthwhile especially for small children 0 – 6 years to not have to buy everything new as it is usually only worn for one winter.



About the author

Hi there! I’m Juli, German roots but I grew up in New Zealand and have been living in Germany since 2004. I love sharing my passion for Berlin and all it has to offer with new ‚Berliners‘ and through my work as a freelance Relocation Consultant with IRC I have the opportunity to do so.



That stores are closed on Sundays and on German public holidays. In case of emergencies, you can always go to the airport and use the grocery store there. It is more expensive, but it is open on Sunday! You can also purchase foodstuffs at large gas stations and at main train stations “Hauptbahnhof”.- more info in our ‚Grocery Shopping‚ article.

That you have to bag your own groceries and have to pay for your own grocery bags.

That you may have to weigh fruits and vegetables before you bring them to the check-out in many German grocery stores. There is a number listed for the produce that you have chosen which can be matched with the number on the scale, making it easier for those who do not know the German name for all the fruits and vegetables.

That you shouldn’t touch and select produce offered at the speciality fruit and vegetable stands at the Farmers Market. All you need to do is say what you would like and the quantity and the vendor does the rest for you.

That you need a Euro 1 or 50 cent coin in order to free the shopping cart from its stand at the grocery store. This is the way of making sure that all carts are properly returned without having to hire someone to retrieve them from the street. You’ll get your EURO back when you return the cart to its stand. You can purchase a small ’shopping cart coin‘ in the supermarket for your keychain, this will save a lot of hassle!

That you have to introduce yourself to your neighbours, it isn’t the other way around. In fact, it is very appreciated if you hang a note in the foyer for the neighbours to read, say you are moving in, your name and apologies if there is any disturbance on moving in day. This will make for a good start to the neighbourly relationship.

That you should treat your movers to coffee, soft drinks and sandwiches if you want to keep them happy at your home working – Do not serve beer! And the acceptable tip for your moving crew is Euro 5-10 per person, per day.

That tipping in a German restaurant is up to 10%. A tip is already included in the price of your food in most restaurants and German waiters and waitresses earn a salary. A small tip can be given to taxis by rounding-up to the nearest even number. And a Euro 10 tip (per person) to your garbage men and your mailman at Christmas time is standard practice.

That your German washing machine could take up to 1.5 hours to complete a single wash or even longer! Also, top-loading washing machines are virtually unheard of in Germany.

That people follow the rules, all the time! and if you don’t you will be made aware by complete strangers. It’s not just you, it happens to most ex-pats.

About the author

Hi there! I’m Juli, German roots but I grew up in New Zealand and have been living in Germany since 2004. I love sharing my passion for Berlin and all it has to offer with new ‚Berliners‘ and through my work as a freelance Relocation Consultant with IRC I have the opportunity to do so.



Welcome to Germany, what do you know about life in Germany? Is it all oompah music, steins of beer, Lederhosen and large portions of Meat & Potatoes? Well yes, there is that too but there is so much more to learn about those quirky german ways and soon enough you’ll be following the rules whilst wearing lederhosen, dancing to oompah music with a beer in your hand!

  1. What do you mean there is no kitchen?! It’s no joke, many german apartments/houses come without an inbuilt kitchen. This will appear as a shock to most ex-pats as a kitchen would seemingly be just part and parcel of a rental. But in Germany, this is most often not the case. The theory is, it stems from the fact that germans rent for longterm, meaning for the rest of their lives (well not always but sometimes!) and therefore they want to pick a kitchen which is theirs and consistent with their own style. So you may find yourself having to purchase a kitchen – however, it has become more common in the past 10 years for there to be a kitchen already installed.
  2. Introductions, where do you begin? When being introduced to someone, it is common to shake hands as a greeting and to introduce yourself by saying your last name. Germans will feel embarrassed if you introduce yourself with your first name. It is also common to shake hands when saying good-bye. When being introduced to a mixed crowd, always shake the hand of the woman first – erst die Dame – Ladies first. And be careful not to cross your arm over another couple shaking hands – this is bad luck in Germany!
  3. Introductions continued! – Always address Germans formally with Frau (Mrs./Ms.) and Herr (Mr.), or should the person have a title such as Dr. be sure to use it. The formal “Sie” and the informal “Du” (as in French vous and tu) sometimes cause confusion. Germans are very careful with offering someone the “Du” form, and the offering is always done by the older person. Adult women are always addressed as “Frau” whether married or not. The term “Fräulein” is out and is never used.
  4. Prost! A toast to your new life in Germany – be careful, a possible faux pas is lurking – When toasting, be sure to look the person with whom you are toasting directly in the eye, otherwise, it is 7 years of bad luck, and bad manners. “Zum Wohl” means “cheers” or more literally “to your health”.
  5. Sundays are for rest. There is a multitude of things you are not supposed to do on a Sunday, mow the lawn, vacuum, any kind of handyman jobs and you are not allowed to hang your laundry outside on a Sunday – historically to keep churchgoers who walk to church from being exposed to this unpleasant sight!. This can be expanded into the topic of „Ruhezeiten”, or quiet times in Germany, are every day from 13.00 – 15.00, including Saturdays, all day on Sundays, and every day after 22.00. You are not allowed to “make noise” during this time (e.g. mow your lawn). However, you are allowed to have a party (i.e. make noise) once a month!! It is customary to announce your intentions to make noise to your immediate neighbours or better yet, invite them to your party!.
  6. Happy Birthday! …. Now that you know how to say cheers and when you may party, the next important point is: Birthday celebrations, in Germany it is the responsibility of the birthday boy/girl (this also applies to adults!) to organise the celebrations. This means you give (i.e., pay) for your own birthday party/dinner. Often times, the one celebrating a birthday will bring cake and drinks into the office to share with colleagues.

Now, of course, all of these points are general and it will depend where you are living in Germany. Often Berlin is thought of as much more liberal than say a small town in the South but it’s always good to know the general rule.

We would like to inform you about a new app designed and offered by the TK Health Insurance regarding your medical records.

One of the main objectives of the „TK-Safe“ digital medical record is to link health information for the benefit of patients. This way, previous treatments, diagnoses and examinations can be combined to form an overall picture which is useful for the patient. Experts agree, that in the future, this will enable better collaboration between doctors and clinics. Thus far, this crucial information is decentralized amongst different doctors and institutions. With TK-Safe was developed in collaboration with IBM Germany, using this APP patients will be able to share this information with the attending physician. Thus, important information about their medical history can be incorporated into the treatment.

The new electronic health record also makes an overview your of vaccinations possible. In addition, there will be the opportunity to upload important documents such as x-rays, medical reports or more detailed findings – for example from the hospital – into the electronic medical record. „I can also activate individual services, such as reminders of my vaccinations and preventive appointments,“ adds Beke Reimers. Finally, there is a central place where you can safely store your digital medical records and retrieve them anytime. 

The use of TK-Safe is voluntary and free of charge for all TC-insured persons. The digital file is provided by IBM Deutschland GmbH, all data is stored encrypted on German servers.

By downloading the app and registering for TK-Safe, you can then immediately have the TK account data, such as the hospital stays from the past four years, transferred. So, you can start with an up to date file, all the important data on diagnosis, treatments and fees are clearly „stored“ in one place.

To use the SAFE APP you will need to be registered for ‚Meine TK‘ and then download the APP in your app store.

*Text translated/edited from German – source: https://www.tk.de/techniker/magazin/themen/spezial/das-magazin/tk-safe-2048362

About the author

Hi there! I’m Juli, German roots but I grew up in New Zealand and have been living in Germany since 2004. I love sharing my passion for Berlin and all it has to offer with new ‚Berliners‘ and through my work  as a freelance Relocation Consultant with IRC I have the opportunity to do so.

Grocery shopping in Germany can be different to other countries, especially if you are used to long opening hours and convenient weekend shopping as it is offered in other places.

Germany still adheres to a more traditional model, including speciality stores, butchers, bakeries and outdoor farmers markets instead of only 24/7 convenience stores and big Malls. The speciality stores have the great advantage of having very knowledgeable staff and a wide range of specific and fresh products.

Opening hours are government regulated, this is particularly evident in regard to shops being closed on Sundays and on all public holidays such as Easter & Christmas. The exception to the Sunday rule are bakeries, they are usually open from 7 – 12 pm and the ‘Verkaufsoffener Sonntag’ which occur around 4 times a year, usually in the lead-up to Christmas, shops will be open from 1 – 6 pm. In a pinch, you can pick up limited goods from Gas Stations or in some neighbourhoods ‚Spätis‘ which are typical for Berlin, small shops that are open late and on weekends which stock, drinks, sweets and snacks.

Sunday Shopping 2019: 08.12.2019 & 22.12.2019 (this applies to all participating supermarkets and shops) These can be googled with the term ‚Verkaufsoffener Sonntag Berlin‘.

Supermarkets are generally open from 7 to 9 pm (in some places later), the major chains in Berlin are Edeka, Kaisers, Rewe, Real and Kaufland. Then there are the so-called Discounters, these include Aldi, Lidl, Netto & Penny – these are defined by their focus on less effort put into the display of the goods, sale of many no name or own-brand products and cheaper prices, they also offer weekly specials from furniture, clothes, plants to stationary.

Organic food is very popular in Germany and widely available, the word for this in German is BIO. Regular supermarkets all carry their own-brand line of BIO products, as do most of the Discounters. However, there are also BIO only supermarkets around, for example, Denns, LPG & Das Reformhaus.

There are also countless open-air markets around Berlin, these are called Wochenmarkt, here you can buy fresh produce daily, from Fruit and Vegetables to meat, fish and speciality foods such as Turkish or Asian. Open-air markets are usually once a week. Wochenmarkt days and times in your area can be found here: https://www.wochenmarkt-deutschland.de/maerkte/berlin/wochenmaerkte-in-berlin/

A couple of very important notes – you will need a 50 cent or 1 Euro coin for the shopping cart. Bring your own bags, bags are available but can cost up to 1 Euro and it is better for the environment to bring your own bags. Pfand, this is a small deposit imposed on glass and plastic bottles, usually around 25 cents to ensure you recycle the bottle, the deposit is refunded upon return of the bottle. One more tip, this is from experience – there is a product called Dishwasher Salt (Geschirrspüler Salz) in Germany, it is for the dishwasher ONLY. Be careful not to buy it and use it as regular salt.

If you are looking for country-specific products, some supermarkets carry small international sections and there are some speciality stores around Berlin.

Local food & produce: https://markthalleneun.de/ & https://www.visitberlin.de/en/arminiusmarkthalle & https://www.top10berlin.de/en/cat/shopping-261/farmers-markets-2840

Italian: https://www.centro-italia.de/

Asia: https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g187323-d2421570-Reviews-Dong_Xuan_Center-Berlin.html & https://goasia.net/

International: https://www.goldhahnundsampson.de/shop/ & https://www.rogacki.de/

British/American: https://www.british-american-food.de

French: http://www.leflaneur.de/

Indian/Pakistani: https://tariqfoodstore.com/

Australia/New Zealand: https://australiashopping.de

(Source for Pfand: https://liveworkgermany.com/2017/05/how-does-the-german-pfand-system-work-and-is-it-effective/ )

About the author

Hi there! I’m Juli, I have German roots but I grew up in New Zealand and have been living in Germany since 2004. I love sharing my passion for Berlin and all it has to offer with new ‚Berliners‘ and through my work as a freelance Relocation Consultant with IRC I have the opportunity to do so.

Moving to Berlin in 1998 was an adventure:

Adjusting to the “Berliner Schnauze”, their rough, often hurting tone and choice of words, was a challenge after leaving Munich and their “Grüss Gott” culture.

But what I truly admired was the well thought through ”city-planning” and  options to get through the city, stress free. The Hohenzollerndamm, a connection to move from the West towards the eastern parts of the former “West Berlin” and the “Stadtautobahn”, another fabulous means to travel without stoplights through the former West Berlin area were worthy of my praise.

Now many years later, I have decided to no longer move through Berlin with a car. The absolutely incompetent city government has NO oversight of the construction sites; the streets blocked for whatever other reason and NO plans how to properly detour the traffic. The crazy bicyclists who follow no rules except “ME FIRST” are a threat to any driver, at any time of day and are always in the right, even if they cycle without lights at dusk, cycle through red lights and sway left or right without signalling. No respect for rules. They are the biggest threat in Berlin.  It’s almost as if car holders are the bad guys. We now have a politician who wants to ban cars all together from the city. That being said …… I have resorted to using public transportation.

The S-Bahn, the U-.Bahn (not at night as a woman alone), the busses, which never come as planned, the trams and if necessary, a taxi, bring me through the city at all times of the day, safe and usually not stressed..

If only the BVG, the Berlin public transportation company, offering great connections throughout the entire city, would realize, it’s more beneficial to repair and build new connections not all at the same time….. hampering a smooth moving forward.

The BVG offers two great Apps.  BVG Fahrinfo (in German)  listing most of the best connections                            (unfortunately not all) and the BVG Tickets. This last App saves me from looking for coins to pay for my tickets, as I do not buy the monthly ticket, which I would recommend for those of you who travel to work daily.

I am a BVG fan!

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