Moving to Germany During a Pandemic

Who would have thought that moving to Germany during a pandemic would be so hard? I mean, besides every single person who is crazy enough to even consider doing such a thing…

As expected, a lot of unexpected issues came up during my move to Germany, including getting an email 5 days before my flight telling me to cancel EVERYTHING. But I am happy to say that I finally arrived on July 7th, despite obstacles that were really pushing against me. Now I have been here for two weeks, I am officially out of quarantine, and ready to take on the mile long list of things I have to do in order for me to stay here.

Saying bye to the gang the morning I left.

About a month before I flew out to Germany, I purchased my plane ticket on the advice of a contracted company who was helping me with my move. They told me that I was already pre-approved for my work visa and that restrictions would allow me to travel after July 1st. Two weeks before that flight, my original non-stop flight was cancelled (which was *easily* fixed by a 1.5 hour hold on with the airline) and then I found out that my dog, Tycho, would not be able to go fly with me because of COVID-related pet travel restrictions (not *easily* fixable). After going through that, I emailed the contracting company, asking them if I was still okay to go and mentioned that I didn’t want any more surprises before I left. They assured me that everything was okay, but then I got the email from them, 5 days before my flight, saying that I would not be able to get into the country and that I should cancel everything. The flight, the temporary housing, the car…everything.

I was so upset! Moving to a new country can have an emotional toll on you. I had spent a majority of the last few weeks saying goodbye to friends and family, only to be told this news in the final days. About four hours later, with some coffee and light shopping in between to cheer me up, I was ready to fight. It just seemed crazy to me that I, an essential worker who was already pre-approved for a work visa, couldn’t get into the country. So I spent the rest of the evening doing research and then woke up early to call every German embassy in the US until I could get someone on the phone.

Did cheering myself up include buying my dog a Hawaiian shirt? You bet.

Finally, someone at the New York embassy called me back. We spoke for 5 minutes and she was already able to tell me that I had all the documents I needed. So I called the contracting company that was helping me and basically proclaimed, “Ready or not, I am coming!”

It was a risk, but I really didn’t have anything to lose. I went to the airport, showed them my pre-approved work visa, along with a letter that I asked my company to write explaining that I was an essential employee, and no one asked me question beyond that.

Looking back on it, it made sense. I wasn’t a tourist, I already had a job, I just wanted to start the next chapter of my life. Thankfully, the airport and border patrol agreed and it went smoothly.

Klostergasthof Andechs, Bavaria, Germany

When I left for the airport that morning, I was thinking that it was about a 30% chance that they would reject me. So when I actually arrived, I was kind of shocked. I prepared for the worst and my adrenaline was so high that I didn’t sleep a wink on the plane. Which then lead to me having the worst week of jet lag.

I guess my life lesson from this is to listen to your gut sometimes. It ended up paying off for me and, if I didn’t do it, I would have been stuck in the states for another 2 or so months.

Since I left from Colorado, a less riskful state, my quarantine allowed me to travel for essential things and walk/hangout outside. So I have spent some time at the Isar, a few bier gardens, and bike rides around the Starnberger See.

All that is left for me to do is get my work visa, find a permanent place to live, get a car, get a German bank account…oh yeah, and learn German. Easy right?

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Any interesting parts about moving to Germany that you would like me to answer? Leave them in the comments below!

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