Relocating from Dubai to Berlin during the Coronavirus pandemic
Denise Hasircioglu, Business Recruiter at GetYourGuide, relocated to Berlin from Dubai in July 2021. She dives into what it was like to relocate to Berlin and join GetYourGuide during the Coronavirus pandemic.
I relocated to Berlin in July, 2021 after living and working in Dubai for 3 years, and was looking at Berlin particularly because of the prominence of the startup scene. I was excited by what Berlin had to offer, having claimed the ‘Silicon Valley of Europe’ title. I was also excited by GetYourGuide, and the company’s vision to unlock the world's most unforgettable travel experiences.
Ironically, I hadn’t traveled to Berlin when I made the decision to move! But I was 100% confident in the amazing company culture based on the people I’d met virtually. It was clear to me that everyone loved what they were doing, and loved doing it at GetYourGuide.
After signing the offer and while waiting for my visa, I had the opportunity to meet the team in the Dubai office, and start building relationships. The team was so welcoming and it got me more excited about joining the company.
Visas, relocation, and accommodation
Surprisingly the visa and relocation processes were seamless. I was assigned a relocation coach who helped me gather all of the needed documents to apply for the visa, they scheduled the appointments, and I just had to show up. The visa process took a bit of time due to some government offices working at reduced capacity, but I was prepared early on, and my team was well aware of my start date so there were no surprises.
Another unexpected event was how quickly I was able to find an apartment. Everyone I spoke to before arriving said the most challenging part about moving is securing a long term apartment. So I took the hunt very seriously, with intricate spreadsheets and access to all of the known housing portals.
I cast the net wide and viewed apartments from one end of the city, in Westend, to the complete other end, in Marzahn. Because of this, I signed my lease within 20 days of arriving in Berlin! I wonder if this must be some kind of record?
My first week
Upon my first few days of arriving in Berlin, and hearing that the quarantine rules were lifted, we pretended we were tourists and went to Brandenburger Tor and walked around the area, observing some peaceful protests. We toured Museum Island, and stopped a few times in between to have a beer or a bratwurst.
I was thrilled that I was able to go into the office from day one and explore our beautiful space. Though I attended our onboarding sessions online and met a lot of my fellow new starters virtually, I also got to meet a few colleagues on my team over drinks — some of whom hadn’t seen each other for over 18 months!
It was a special occasion. I was lucky to get that much face time with my colleagues from week one. It certainly helped to assimilate into the company faster.
My advice for folks relocating to Berlin
The one thing I’d want to know in advance if I were to move to Berlin again is that everything is closed on a Sunday. If you land in Berlin on a Sunday, better make sure you have the essentials!
Being a non-German speaker, there were a few instances where I encountered people who couldn’t speak any English. I would suggest learning a few German words to get by, and adding a shortcut to the translation app on your phone.
I also believe that the stigma of not being able to make a big career decision without meeting your team in person is an outdated one in this day and age. We have the tools and the means to connect with people in ways we could never have imagined 20 years ago.
We're also a more mobile population, and I believe GetYourGuide was one of the early adopters of this change, making my journey seamless, and rather enjoyable!
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