What it’s like to be Brazilian in Germany

Marcela stands in front of a building in Berlin, Germany
Written by
Marcela Vieira Boschi
Published on
May 11, 2023

Living abroad isn’t always easy—especially in a historically homogenous country like Germany. But it can be hard to find some real talk amongst all the dreamy imagery. Introducing What It’s Like, a new content series. Diverse perspectives sharing candid conversations about what it’s like to be ________ in Germany. 

What it’s like to be Brazilian in Germany

Meet Marcela, originally from Porto Alegre, Brazil. 🇧🇷 Currently living in Berlin, previously in Hamburg.

Tell us a bit about you.

I moved from Brazil to Germany in 2016. Back in Brazil, I lived in Porto Alegre, capital of the State of Rio Grande do Sul. I moved with my husband, who was, back then, a boyfriend.

In Porto Alegre I worked with digital media; for many years I worked in an advertising agency, but the last job I had before moving was in a music start up called Superplayer and I worked in the company’s commercial department. I have a degree in advertising.

Here in Berlin, I worked as a barista / shift leader in a coffee shop, totally different from what I did in Brazil. But now I am looking to change back to advertising and marketing, and using the resources from the government to help me make this career move.

Why Germany?

I never thought of living in Germany. It was not a choice—my husband and I like to say that Germany chose us, and not vice versa. I always had the dream of living outside my country. I was eligible for Italian citizenship, so that was one of the things that made us choose to live in Europe.

In the first year, we left Brazil and went to live in Hamburg, Germany. In those first months, I started the process of Italian citizenship, and by the time we completed 6 months in Germany, I already had my European passport. That made things a lot easier for us, because the bureaucracy here is really scary and a little complex. But with the passport things become simpler. I lived in both Hamburg and Berlin, over the course of almost 7 years in Germany.

Tell us about life in Germany.

The first year in Germany was very difficult and at the same time incredible. I remember everything being new to me, I had never set foot in Germany before, and I just came to live one day. I got here without speaking English or German, which made things difficult for me to understand and create bonds of friendship with foreign people.

Luckily, I'm good with people, and making friends has always been my forte, so, even though I didn’t speak the local language, I was able to communicate and have friends. But it was not easy back then, staying at home, not working, learning a new language (actually two!) that were totally different from mine, being away from family and friends, adapting to the new culture, the climate, the cold, the darkness... I think the first and second years were the heaviest for me.

After that, it got better, and I started to feel more belonging, like I was creating roots. And when I started my first job at the coffee shop, I felt that I really liked living abroad, having my space, and being part of the country. That was a year and a half ago. Before that, I worked as a babysitter, did some freelance work for Brazilian companies, but didn't have any serious jobs. This step of having my own “real” job was very important in my journey as an expat (or immigrant!), to feel like I am capable and can work doing whatever I want.

“I think the first and second years were the heaviest for me. After that, it got better, and I started to feel more belonging, like I was creating roots. ”

What has been hard for you, living in Germany?

I believe that the most difficult thing for me was not speaking the language, trying to communicate in English, and often not being replied to.

But second-most was all the bureaucracy! Lots of things I found to be so difficult and old, a lot of paper that could have been solved with an email. It’s a “first world” issue, but something that disappointed me... I feel that they live in the 80s sending faxes, letters, and papers for absolutely everything, it drives me crazy! 

What do you love about Germany—what makes you stay?

Germany for me is divided into two parts, Berlin, and the rest of Germany. Don't get me wrong, I really love this country. I have eternal respect and admiration, and I am very grateful for everything that I could grow so much here.

But Berlin is a world apart from the rest of Germany, and I love this city so much. This mixture of cultures, languages, people, this mess, street art, free people, music—Berlin is a city of the world, and it makes me want to stay more and more in this country. Ich liebe dich, Berlin. Danke!

How has it been, being so far away from home?

Germany and Brazil are the opposites! I can't see anything in common, but a good thing here in Berlin is the large Brazilian community that exists. Unlike Hamburg, here I created great Brazilian friends for the rest of my life, and there are many groups that help Brazilians who have just arrived in the city and in the country.

One of the places that helped me a lot, in the beginning, was a group of Brazilian Women in Berlin, where we got together to exchange experiences on everything from bureaucracy to marriage, children, etc. It was very useful, and I think it helped me a lot.

Another place I found myself was the New Moon Women's Group, more on the healing side. This group made me discover many incredible things and also brought me many friends.

I miss absolutely everything in Brazil, the food, the people, the beach, the sea, the joy, the smiles, the heat, the sun ... Everything! But the security of living and living in a country where I can be free, go out at night and not worry about going back home alive just because I am a woman, is worth all this nostalgia. With Germany, I definitely chose a good place to live and feel safe.

What's a piece of advice you'd give to other Brazilians thinking of moving here?

Não desista! É aquele bom e velho ditado: “sou brasileira e não desisto nunca”. O começo é difícil, dói, da vontade de voltar pra nossa pátria amada e muito loca chamada Brasil, mas dê uma chance pra Alemanha, tem tanta coisa boa nesse país e tem espaço pra todo mundo. Se joga!!!! Fique firme e força na peruca! Tamo junto!!!!  🔵


Read more of the series here. 🌎 If you’d like to contribute your story and experiences in Germany, we’d love to feature you! Write to us at hello@getworldify.com.

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