Regrets about living in Germany

Regrets I have about living in Germany

The thing about living in a foreign country is that the way you experience the country is entirely different than if you were travelling. (No shit, Sherlock. I’m so glad my three-week writer’s block has lifted long enough for me to write this drivel out for you.)

I’ve been back in Canada for about seven months now and it still seems bizarre to me that I lived in Germany. And while I did a LOT during my year in Berlin, I have SO MANY REGRETS, you guys.

I know you’re not supposed to have regrets or any of that bullshit, but guess what? I do. Expats, commiserate. Readers, take a lesson from me.

I wish I had budgeted better

I spent money in Germany like my ship was going down and I only had a few hours left to party my life away. After I completed the Camino in April, I was basically too broke to afford life. I don’t feel sorry for myself – I was a fucking idiot. It’s all on me.

I should have foreseen the hardships of a near-empty bank account ahead of time. If I had been in a better position, I would have applied for my freelance visa and stayed onboard in Berlin. There was no way I could afford it, and I was heartbroken.

As life turns out, though, I’m quite happy with my current situation in St. John’s and have been plumping up my savings since September. So, maybe it was a good lesson in planning for the future and having some self-control.

*slides empty box of cookies out of sight*

I wish I had seen more of Germany

I spent almost all of my time in my happy like Berlin bubble – which, from what I know, seems to happen to a good many of Berlin’s expats.

I got out and explored a lot of other places in Europe, but with Germany I barely scratched the surface. I went to Munich for Oktoberfest, and checked out the area around Saxon-Switzerland. That’s it.

I didn’t even make it to freaking Hamburg or Leipzig, both of which are within two hours by bus from Berlin. I even had a friend to stay with in Leipzig. I didn’t make it to the German lakes or the North Sea. I actually hate myself for this.

I didn’t do much dating

I went on ONE date my entire time in Berlin, with a Greek man who became so pushy and assertive that I left the bar sobbing. I was so discouraged after that experience, I didn’t bother to keep looking.

Now, living in St. John’s where my options make me want to weep on a daily basis, I can see that I should have better embraced the variety and absurdity of the dating options in Berlin. I was living in a city of 3.5 MILLION PEOPLE. Surely there was someone to suit me, somewhere?!

Now as I’m swiping left through all the Tinder profiles of men proudly holding fish, or images of oversized trucks and jacked-up ATVs, I want the limitless possibilities of big city dating. I’d even take the leather fetish dudes that routinely showed up in my apps.

I LOVE German guys, and Northern European men in general — we always have awesome connections. They’re my people. Plus they’re hot.

Or hell, maybe I’d get out and meet someone IRL.

But then again, probably not.

I didn’t take the time to learn German

I’ve been using Duolingo for a few years now, and while it has actually been a hugely helpful aid in basic German, I can’t believe I didn’t dive into some intensive classes while actually living in the country.

I always had so many spontaneous trips planned; it was hard to commit to a timeline for classes. And, of course, I didn’t have any money.

But I feel like my cultural experiences there would have been so much more enriching if I could just stumble my way through awkward German conversation, ja? Maybe would have helped the dating thing a bit too.

A German guy on a train once told me he liked the way I looked, though, and then gave me his phone number on a piece of paper with a smiley face drawn next to it in case I ever wanted to do some tandem language classes. Again, dating fail.

I didn’t take advantage of Berlin’s art scene

I really did live it up in Berlin, but there was a whole level of immersion I never really got into: the arts scene. Now that I’m actually working in the arts, I feel like I missed out on something big.

At the beginning of my year, I went to a reading in an old crematorium in Wedding. I was so inspired at the time; I vowed to keep going to such events. Guess how many others I went to? Nada.

Do you have regrets about living abroad?

The good thing, I suppose, is that this doesn’t mean my time in Germany has come to an end. If there’s a next time, I’ll do it right.


  • February 28 2017

    Oh girl. I had so many regrets from when I lived in London- and similarly a lot of them stemmed from the fact I had no money to do the things I wanted to do. I spent all my time partying with Australians and trying to budget enough to feed myself that I barely scratched the surface of everything I wanted to do there.

    I don’t think I’ll ever live in London again, but I’ve learned some lessons for the next time we live abroad (which will hopefully be soon!).

    • March 14 2017

      I remember you raving about London being your favourite city! But hey, partying with Australians all the time sounds pretty awesome too. Hahaha.

  • February 28 2017

    I totally hear you!! I lived in Berlin twice and barely made it out of the city either time. I do speak German and am dying to go back and actually explore. Great blog post. :)

    • March 14 2017

      LOL, I’m glad I’m not the only one!

  • February 28 2017

    Um, I still think you did more in Berlin than I have in the past 2 years of living here. I think being here with a husband, as opposed to single, means I don’t do certain things I might otherwise.

    Berlin is awesome. I love it. But it is NOT like the rest of Germany. It’s hard to convince yourself to learn German when sooooo many people speak English.

    Also, I can totally relate to not seeing enough of Germany. I’ve been in Germany for almost 6 years now and I still haven’t been to Cologne or anywhere along the Rhine Valley. I’ve been to Munich and a couple other cities in Bavaria, but I feel like there’s still so much to see in that region. Other than Hamburg, I haven’t been to northern Germany.

    I hope you do make it back here someday!
    Ali recently posted…Berlin International Restaurant Project: China and Jamaica

    • March 14 2017

      Hahaha that actually makes me feel somewhat better! I suppose it’s impossible to cover such a massive city in a year. If I come back, I’m definitely going to be exploring more of Germany. Where did the time even go?!

  • February 28 2017

    How can anyone be expected to jump into a new experience head first and come out having done everything “right”? I have so many regrets from living in London. SO MANY and a lot are quite similar to yours (particularly the art scene, exploring the UK rather than running off to Europe or weirdly the Americas every chance I got and leaving London with a to do list a mile long). I know what you mean – I’m not an expat but I’m living in a new city in my home country and am determined to make the most of it – but if I don’t, know cares? Sometimes it’s enough just to be there. For the record, it sounded like you were having an absolute ball for your entire year in Berlin. I absolutely get the regrets thing, but hey – we can’t have it all.
    LC recently posted…Everything You Need to Know For a Trip to Australia’s Red Centre

    • March 14 2017

      Agreed, travelling versus living is a whoooole different experience! I suppose the same rule applies to where I am now, in St. John’s. I’ve lived here for over 10 years and I haven’t done it all.

  • February 28 2017

    To be honest, can’t blame you for not learning too much German in Berlin where everyone seems to speak English. And it’s a goddamn hard language! I’ve been learning it for like twelve years and I still absolutely suck at it.

    I’m living abroad currently (study exchange programme) and sorta regret that I chose a town whose only attraction is a shoe museum… But at least it’s close to other cool places, and lets me keep my head at studying, haha.
    Elina recently posted…30 pictures from 3 weeks in Brazil

    • March 14 2017

      Hahaha! Where are you? Yeah, Germans (and Northern Europeans) seem to be better at English than I am, usually. Lol.

  • March 01 2017

    This post resonates with me. I always have good intentions, but sometimes familiarity/laziness gets the better of me. I’ve become better over the years with pushing myself to do the things I say I’m going to do, but I still need to get better at exploring all the opportunities that are available to me!

    As for you and Berlin – perhaps it’s time to return? ;-)

    • March 14 2017

      Hahaha, definitely a familiarity/laziness issue! But to be fair, one of my most memorable moments (and this is going to sound insane) is the evening I climbed the stairwell to my comfy apartment and felt a twinge of love for my building/neighbourhood/ordinary life in a foreign country. Sigh

  • March 01 2017
    A Münchener and a former resident of Canada

    Ha ha ha, and I regert not having seen more of Canada while living there. How much I miss that great, wonderful land…

    Conclusion – the grass by the neighbour is always greener.

    • March 14 2017

      Hahaha don’t worry, most Canadians don’t see Canada!

  • March 03 2017

    Same experience here, but In Vienna. I visited a fiend in Salzburg once, and went on a couple of ski trips, but that was all I saw of the rest of Austria. In fact, over the course of a year I barely left the inner city.

    However, I don’t regret it. At the time, that worked perfectly for me. I felt like I lived there, rather than just visited. Going back feels comfortable, and I don’t mind doing touristy stuff now I’m a tourist.

    Perhaps it helped that I spoke the language and had better luck on the dating scene. But I’m happy with the memories and experience I had, despite not seeing much else.

    • March 14 2017

      That’s awesome. I guess no matter where we live, we tend to get stuck in our own little bubbles. I suppose Germany will always be there for my return!

  • March 05 2017

    I feel you, girl! I had so many regrets after spending six months in Australia, and I’m currently living abroad in Edinburgh and know I’ll end up with about a million regrets when I leave. Travel regrets are the bane of my existence!
    Ashley recently posted…When Your Life Has an Expiry Date

    • March 14 2017

      Hahaha I guess we can always revisit?

  • June 15 2019

    Interesting article! I have also many regrets before and think about what I could have made my experience better. Anyways, I think we learn from each experience and next time when we live in another city again, we will know how to make it better :)
    Sindy recently posted…Supermarkets in Germany: What to expect and how to save money on groceries

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