Guest blogger Felicity Navigating new beginnings times six

Playground in the woods, ten minutes from home.
Playground in the woods, ten minutes from home. | © Felicity Tucker

Being in the unique position to use my husband’s role as the frontman in a touring rock band to apply for a freelance visa to live in Germany, we decided to do just that. No one could actually believe that we were moving our young family to the other side of the world with no real plan, other than waiting to see the result of our appointment at the ‘Ausländerbehörde’, which was booked for five days after we arrived in Berlin.

To ensure that we were well organised for this appointment, we had decided to conduct a recce to eliminate potential dramas on the day. We needed to take screen shots of the journey because our mobile network provider had misunderstood our needs prior to leaving Australia, resulting in us having no Wi-Fi or ability to make calls, but we pressed on with dragging our jet-lagged selves and the children across town. They were happy enough given the adventures of the S-Bahn and U-Bahn, firing many a question that I struggled to answer because I was quietly panicking about what would happen if we were to get lost, given we had no mobile coverage.

WAS THERE REALLY LIFE BEFORE MOBILE PHONES?

Cue to two days later, we arrived at the agreed time to meet with our relocation consultant and after ten minutes of waiting outside the office for her, I begun to get a little nervous. I suggested to my husband a few times that we could be in the wrong place and he started to get concerned too, he asked a security guard who promptly told us there were two Ausländerbehörden and we were in fact at the wrong office.

Checking out the East Side Gallery. Checking out the East Side Gallery. | © Felicity Tucker Imagine us, having no real clue where we were or where we needed to be, no access to our phones, running with young children-in-tow, trying to hail a taxi in our jet-lagged, disorientated panicked state with exactly ten minutes to spare before our appointment time. Fortunately a taxi appeared and we piled in attempting to communicate the correct address and the pressing need to drive very, very fast.
 
There we were, running up the stairs at six minutes past our appointment time, knowing that arriving this late could potentially jeopardise our chances of a successful application. We nervously sat down, sweaty from our sprinting, peeling off our layers with hopeful smiling faces as our consultant explained our lateness in Deutsch. To hear the visa officer say the words – ‘’Okay, you have two years to start with’’, made me burst into happy tears of sheer relief. All that time, effort and research we had put into this move was almost over less than an hour earlier.

LIFE OUTSIDE THE RINGBAHN

We felt it was important for us all to be pushed from our comfort zones, we chose to move to an area not generally popular for expats, bordering the forest with not one hipster cafe in sight. Our eldest is enrolled in a local school and has been fortunate to form new friendships with children who live locally to us, providing her with a sense of belonging. Children in Berlin are encouraged to become independent from an early age and I find that very inspiring.
 
  • Getting our daily strawberry fix. © Felicity Tucker
    Getting our daily strawberry fix.
  • Celebrations post-visa approval. © Felicity Tucker
    Celebrations post-visa approval.
  • Backyard summer bliss. © Felicity Tucker
    Backyard summer bliss.
  • Observations on the Spree at Friedrichstraße. © Felicity Tucker
    Observations on the Spree at Friedrichstraße.
  • We've dubbed it the ''Berlin Palace'' - our home. © Felicity Tucker
    We've dubbed it the ''Berlin Palace'' - our home.
  • Emailing friends in Australia. © Felicity Tucker
    Emailing friends in Australia.
When I first attended parent nights at school, I struggled to follow the conversations. Many parents didn’t speak English with me or would even say hello which I found to be very challenging. Sitting in these meetings conducted in German with one person translating snippets of the conversation meant that I’d missed vital information. In one private meeting with her teacher (who can speak English) she expressed genuine surprise that we would contemplate a move to a foreign country without an ability to speak the language. I merely sighed; it had become really exhausting attempting to explain to Berliners why we had left Australia. A few more months in and things are getting easier, the parents of my daughter’s friends make an effort to talk with me, and my ability to understand the language has helped improve communication.
 
The three youngest all attend a local bilingual kindergarten. Their language skills are developing at a rapid pace as it’s immersed in their play. They are very popular being the only Australian children to attend the kindergarten. Their confidence has grown significantly and with that comes a powerful curiosity for their new country.
 
We are all adjusting to our new life together and we have to remember to laugh when something doesn’t go as planned (which is often) because everything usually works out in the end, sometimes just not how we’d imagined.