Berlin Expat Life – News, Culture, Entertainment
So you did it! You’re here, you made it to Berlin and battled through the bureaucracy, aced all the admin, ripped through the red tape and now you live here! The next step is building your actual life here.
There is of course a chance that upon arrival your German might not be quite up to scratch, if at all existent. Fear not. The huge expat community in Berlin means that living in the city without knowing German is entirely possible. We are not advocating living in an English bubble. You won’t experience the city in all its splendour until you can speak to the locals, understand the streets signs, the UBahn announcements, the ad boards and the notices taped to the board in your building. Learning German will unlock another level of the city, like Negative World in Super Mario Bros, that the one time players (or tourists in this case) will rarely, if ever, see.
So yes, you might have guessed, we believe in learning German. That being said, you still need a life in the meantime. Luckily we’ve broken down some of the important elements that will help you get really settled and feel at home in Berlin.
English Language News in Berlin
Living in a city without being aware of what is going on there means that whilst you may reside there, you aren’t really a member of the community. It is kind of cheating, to soak up all the good stuff without any interest in the current affairs. You could be anywhere in the world. Well, Berlin being as unique as it is, you probably couldn’t but connecting to what’s going on in the city is important if you really want to make it your home.
So, how can you keep your finger on Berlin’s pulse?
A number of the big national newspapers have English websites, although they often lack Berlin specific news, aren’t that up to date, or are less actual news than broader English language features. They include Deutsche Welle, Der Speigel, Die Zeit, Die Welt.
Local Berlin newspapers like Morgenpost, unfortunately, do not offer English versions of their websites.
Hochhaus is the leading English-language newsletter on German news and current affairs, with three newsletters a week:
- Tuesday and Friday: ‘Five Things’ news roundup + an engaging long-read
- Sunday: a look back at the week that was + a look ahead at the week to come
The Local is an online news outlet with a dedicated Berlin page offering stories that are city specific, if perhaps a little sparse.
Exberliner is a magazine whose tagline is “Berlin in English”. It is a great source for news, culture, politics and all things Berlin. The print version is released monthly and the website is updated on a regular basis with longer form pieces from the print issue, shorter online-only articles, a calendar of events, and a weekly roundup of the city’s news.
KCRW Berlin is a great radio station (104.1 FM) providing Berlin’s news, politics and culture in English and the website has a solid, up-to-date feed of local news articles alongside roundup pieces.
Radio Spaetkauf is a Berlin news show, bringing you Berlin’s news in English. The website provides updates and the podcasts are released roughly monthly and offer an overview of the city’s recent happenings.
Berlin Briefing is a really informative update of the local news. They take the form of short, five to ten-minute audio summaries of the day’s news stories, with a new one released every weekday morning.
Culture and Entertainment in Berlin
You’re clued in on Berlin’s latest news stories, the kids are safely in school, now it’s time to have fun! There is an endless amount of cultural cuisine to feast on in Berlin and, music to your ears, for plenty of it you don’t need German! So how will you fill up your free time?
There are so many great, exciting things that Berlin has to offer which surpass the boundaries of language. Art galleries, festivals, museums, concerts, dance and variety performances, open-airs and street parties are never too far away and you can enjoy them entirely without having to worry about whether or not you used the correct article!
When it comes to forms of culture that rely on words and sentences however, we got you covered. Here are some tips for specifically English language entertainment.
Theatres in Berlin
The go-to for English theatre in Berlin is, funnily enough, English Theatre Berlin. The independent company presents performances exclusively in English, both their own stagings and international guest performances ranging from comedy shows to dance performances.
That is by no means your only option however as many theatres in the city offer English surtitles with some, if not all, performances. Take for example
- Maxim Gorki Theatre
- Deutsche Theatre
- Berliner Ensemble
- HAU Hebbel am Ufer
- Deutsche Oper
- Monbijou Park’s open-air theatre in the summer.
- Komische Oper Berlin has individual screens fitted in each seat to enable you to choose your language
Cinemas in Berlin
Whether you prefer big chains like Cinestar with huge screens and large complexes or small unique Kinos with as few as one screen, there is something for you in Berlin. A huge amount of cinemas play films in their original version, so you can see the latest releases without any dodgy dubbing!
The Cinestar in Potsdamer Platz (center of the famed Berlinale) is the only cinema that shows films exclusively in their original version. The rest show a mix of films from all over the world either in their original version or with subtitles.
The key to look out for in the cinema listings is whether they say OV (Original Version) or OmU (Original mit Untertitel). OV is obviously just as it states, the original. OmU means Original with Subtitles, so if the film is in English it will have German subtitles and vice versa.
If you love someone standing on stage with the sole aim of making you laugh then you won’t be disappointed. There are plenty of comedy clubs in Berlin that put on English shows, as well as a host of improv groups that you can even join in. To make sure you don’t miss your dose of lol-s, keep an eye on Comedy in English Berlin, who pull together all the English language events happening in Berlin and list them for you in a rather convenient comedy calendar.
The expat scene here is so wide that if you look hard enough you will inevitably find a group of people that do, or would like to do, the same thing as you would like to. Knitting, protesting, exercising, singing, you name it there will more than likely be a group of expats you can do it with.
Berlin is your oyster; go forth and enjoy!