Visiting Germany for a working holiday, or to take part in a course, as I did, can be a very rewarding experience.
Once you have got your head around the language and the local customs you will find a rich and diverse cultural history waiting to be explored. Add to that the warm and friendly German spirit and trains that (almost) always run on time and you will soon find an amazing country to explore.
Where to go in Germany on a working holiday
In one word: Berlin.
Although other major cities such as Hamburg and Munich all have their individual charms, the German capital is unrivalled in its attitude and energy.
The contrast of its post-industrial architecture and turn of the century apartment blocks creates an imposing edge, but the city is alive and literally buzzing with self-discovery.
Of the four central Berlin districts Mitte, Kreuzberg, Friedrichshain and Prenzlauer Berg, I fell in love with Kreuzberg the most and quickly set up home in a shared apartment.
Each Berlin district is popular with a different crowd and it’s good to spend some time exploring each one to find out where you fit. For me, Kreuzberg was the place, with its tree-lined canals and plethora of late night bars. Be sure to check out the funky shops, cafes and bars of Reihenberger Street.
A large percentage of immigrants and second-generation immigrants live in Kreuzberg, making it a thriving multicultural area. Kreuzberg is also cheaper than other parts of Berlin.
Where to live in Berlin
Moving into a shared apartment in Berlin is a good way to meet other travellers or Germans living and working in the city. There are various free websites that list rooms available to rent.
Apartments often come unfurnished so you will need to buy the basics. But before you rush off to spend a small fortune, take a walk around the streets as locals often leave good quality things in front of their apartment blocks for other people to recycle and reuse.
Where to work in Berlin
My biggest asset when moving to Berlin was that I already knew the language. If you don’t, enrol yourself on a course straight away! While there may be jobs out there that don’t involve speaking, basic language skills are essential for getting by.
And yes, almost everyone speaks English, but its so much more exciting grocery shopping auf Deutsch. Learning the German language is a great way to get to know the locals and understand German culture more.
Go exploring in Berlin
With a wedge of well-earned cash in your back pocket take advantage of Berlin’s proximity to Poland. An overnight train trip to Warsaw or Krakow is well worth the time.
For day-trippers take a ride out of the city on one of the many regional trains and explore the forests of Lower Saxony, historical cities such as Dresden and Leipzig, or architectural and design meccas such as Dessau, home to the Bauhaus.
And of course, there is always exploring Berlin itself, a city that has so much to offer in the way of culture and history.
Read: What to do in Berlin
Check out these helpful travel guides on travel to Berlin:
- DK Eyewitness Travel Guide: Berlin
- Rick Steves’ Snapshot Berlin
- Frommer’s Berlin day by day
- Berlin Pass – free entry into 60+ attractions
Check out these posts about travel in Germany:
Bio: Sophie Steine (29 yrs UK) moved to Berlin in 2008 and took a refresher German course in Germany to brush up on her language skills. Since then she has been working as a baker and part time teacher helping students to learn languages at ESL schools around the capital.
Can you offer any other tips for surviving a working holiday in Germany?