Slovenes abroad: Miha, Berlin (Germany)

A while ago he wrote on Twitter: »After a year and a half in Germany I have come to a position where I am interviewing other people. In German language that is Everything is possible, if you work hard and have a strong desire to achieve something. « Miha fell in love with Berlin during his study and he moved there in 2017. If you want to know how Slovenes see Berlin or if you just want to hear a few tips from tourist point of view, read on 😉

Hi Miha, why Berlin?

I have spent 6 months there during my study and I thought Berlin was fantastic. The city is open to different cultures, it offers a lot of opportunities for young people, there are lots of parties and so many other things going on… for someone who wants to kick off abroad, Berlin is a great opportunity.

Was it hard to move to Berlin?

I have to admit I was very lucky. I joined Facebook group “Slovenes in Berlin” a while ago and one day an opportunity came. One start-up company was looking for a Slovene speaking professional so I applied for the job. After 2 interviews I was invited to move to Berlin and I didn’t hesitate even for a second. Luckily, I have a few “old” friends in Berlin who helped me to find a room, so everything happened practically overnight.

Is it tough to get a job in Berlin? Does one need to speak German?

I studied German language 8 years and that was enough to get my first job. Getting a job in Germany without speaking German is generally almost impossible, but Berlin is different. A lot of start-up companies look for IT and design specialists who don’t need to speak German. You also do not really need German if you want to work in a café or restaurant. But if your job involves working with people, especially in care and health sector, local language is a must. Of course, the demand for jobs is high and if you don’t have the skills there is no point in applying at all. The competition is tough. But if you are willing to start “from scratch” and show good working skills, there is a high chance you’ll get promoted.

 

You said you are the one who is interviewing other people now?

That’s right, this is my second job in Berlin. I am working in an agency that specializes in hiring the candidates for other companies. We have a lot of work – most of the companies need to hire specialists with specific skills, and finding those is not easy. So, they hire agencies to do it for them.

I guess that means you will get a lot of new “friends” soon? 😊

Well, information travels fast and yes, I already got some questions if I can help someone get a job. It is nothing wrong with people asking that, as long as they realize that I need to stay professional. I cannot make preferences or chose someone just because he or she comes from Slovenia. But I can advise friends how to prepare a good CV, how to apply for a job and stuff.

Are salaries in Berlin much higher compared to Slovenia?

You’d be surprised that salaries in Berlin are lower compared to other “industrial” parts of Germany, like Bavaria or Westphalia. This is the reason why Berlin is popular among young population, for people seeking for their first job and have a quality social life at the same time. Currently minimum wage in Germany is 9,19 € per hour and soon it will get up to 9,35 €. From my point of view this means that I get around 700 – 800 € more than I would make in Slovenia for similar job.

Is this enough to have a decent life, or even save some money?

Depends on your lifestyle. One-bedroom apartment can cost from 400 € up to 1000 € per month, rooms from 200 to 600 € per month, depending on the location. The cost of living is similar to Ljubljana, so yes, I can have a normal life here and even save some money. It is interesting that for example vegan food is cheaper in Berlin because this lifestyle here is very popular and of course the competition is much higher compared to Slovenia.

What do you miss about Slovenia?

First of all, I miss mountains as I am a big fan of hiking. Berlin has some nice parks but that is not the same. Actually, Berlin can get very depressing during the winter – sometimes we don’t see the sun for weeks because of the clouds. The other thing I miss is how small Slovenia is. While you can get from the coast to the capital within one hour, you can hardly get to the other part of the city in Berlin within the same time.

Is traffic in Berlin a headache? Do you own a car?

Berlin’s public traffic network is great and people use it on a daily basis. Young people practically don’t own cars because you can get anywhere with train (S or U train) – it is faster, cheaper, you don’t need to worry about parking, and it is also much friendlier to the environment. I live in Marzahn, which is about 10 kilometers away from the city center. It takes me around 50 minutes to reach my work by train, which I use for reading, social media, or I stop off for some fitness or other activities on my way home – so I can say my day is optimized.

5 things I need to see in Berlin as a first timer? Where do I need to make my handstand?

Handstand definitely in front of Brandenburg gate. From the other landmarks I recommend Bundestag (German parliament), Checkpoint Charlie (the best-known Cold War crossing point between East and West Berlin), the remains of Berlin Wall which has turned into the open-air East Side Gallery, Berlin’s Museum island with Berlin Cathedral, the Kaiser-Wilhelm Memorial Church we also call “lipstick and powder puff”, and Schloss (Chateau) Charlottenburg… I also suggest visiting some ethnic parts of the city, like Kreuzberg and Neukölln, where you can see how the cultures blend in and taste some great food.

What about safety in Berlin, how did people react to the terrorist attack in 2016?

I wasn’t in Berlin at that time but friends told me that most of the people reacted reasonably, in sense that these things can happen anywhere. There was no particular panic.  I’d say Berlin is a very safe city, probably thanks to the variety of different cultures and ethnic groups. Sure, there are some extremist groups, but in general the public doesn’t tolerate racist behavior. We are all humans; we need each other and we need to respect that. 

When is the best time to visit Berlin?

From April to October, the climate is similar to Slovenia. July and August can be both, rainy or hot as hell (last year we had some days with 40 °C). Summer offers lot of open-air festivals; you can swim in lakes Tegel or Schlahtensee or visit Sanssouci castle in Potsdam.

How much does Berlin cost a tourist?

  • Small beer: 3 to 6 €
  • Cappuccino: around 3 €
  • Pizza or spaghetti: around 10 €
  • AB zone ticket for public transport (S and U train): 7 € day and 30 € weekly fare
  • Most of the landmarks are outside so they are free, other entrance fees cost around 10 €
  • Hotels and Airbnb rooms are quite expensive so I advise you to book in advance if you have the chance.
  • *If you are interested in visiting Berlin, you can save 15€ by booking a room through this link.

What about flight tickets, Easy Jet has good deals, right?

Let me check… huh, I just found 31€ one-way fare to Slovenia for Christmas, so I’ll book it right away. Thanks for reminding me 😊 Easy Jet is great, we have 3 direct flights per week and if you can plan in advance, like me, you can save a lot of money here.

What are your future plans, do you want to come back to Slovenia or retire in Berlin?

I don’t have any plans coming back to Slovenia in the near future. Berlin offers everything I need, I have some good friends here and the only way is up. However, if an opportunity knocks on my door, I will definitely consider it, even if it means moving to another country.

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