How to make new friends in Berlin in 2020
Finding new friends when you just moved to Berlin can be incredibly hard, especially in times of Corona.
Even though Berlin has 3.7 million residents, it is somewhat normal to feel completely alone and helpless when you arrive for the first time.
This situation can quickly lead to a point where you don't have the motivation to try your luck if you don't have friends in Berlin or people to group up with already.
You might rather spend your spare time watching Netflix and ordering pizzas since it is far more comfortable than going out alone to find people you can connect with.
It is a devil's circle of comfort and fear before you get more and more disappointed, until you don't even want to try it anymore. I know that feeling!
The quarantine made it even worse. One of my best friends recently moved to Berlin to start a new job. He was actually looking forward to meeting great and interesting people at work.
However, due to Corona, he was so far unable to meet any of his new colleagues in person.
They are all working remotely and only meet each other on Zoom. Thus making social contacts out of that is nearly impossible.
On top of that his favourite places to socialise are clubs, which are closed at the moment as well or run under strange circumstances.
Even Bars are only open with restrictions and you have to keep social distance, which makes socialising with new people more or less impossible.
Two places that typically are the main points of social life in Berlin.
We usually don’t think about how much impact those locations have on our personal life, but now as they are no possibility anymore you can notice how much harder it became to make new connections and have a thriving social life.
This whole situation made me think about options on how I can help people who are in the same position.
Therefore, I wrote up the best things that still work to make new friends and be social, even in times of Corona:
Bumble is actually an app similar to Tinder, but it offers another service within it, which is called Bumble BFF.
Bumble BFF uses the same system (swipe, match & chat), but its purpose is to make friends.
If you want to use Bumble, you need to download the app on your smartphone and switch to the BFF mode after starting the app.
Now, the second step is the most important one.
You have to create a solid profile where you give sufficient and correct information about yourself. Things such as your hobbies, interests, and what type of person you are in general.
Filling out those profiles might be a bit annoying and costs time, but it’s definitely worth the effort.
You are way more likely to get matched with other people who fit your personality the most if you describe yourself detailed and precisely.
A lot of people don’t bother creating a proper profile.
They only upload a picture, but obviously, a profile picture doesn’t contain enough information about someone to know if you might like him/her or not.
So if you are not really into chatting a lot, you are better off by just skipping/ swiping left those profiles.
Otherwise, you might get stuck in awkward or boring small talk situations with people that don't suit you, over and over again.
Also very important is: Don't be shy!
Contact your matches immediately and don't waste time.
Waiting for them to make the first step leads often to people missing their chance because they are too scared to use their opportunities.
You don’t even have to be super creative.
Write something about a common interest you’ve seen on their profile or ask them what they have planned on the upcoming weekend.
This type of questions do not only help to keep the chat going, they also help figuring out if you like the other person or not.
Next up, you should ask the other person to meat in reality as early as possible (don’t wait for the other person to ask you).
A lot of times people are too shy to ask at all and need some help to get started. You’ve nothing to lose, just be open-minded and friendly, and it will work out! :-)
Things you could potentially ask them out for can be as easy as meeting in a bar or a park. At best you even have a hobby in common, so you could practice together.
The next challenge after you met someone for the first time comes directly afterward:
Arranging to and finally meeting up again.
When I was using Bumble, it happened several times to me that I had a great initial experience with someone, but after we met for the first time, we were both just too shy or unsure if we should write the other again.
This felt pretty awkward to me, it didn't make sense.
Due to that I decided to message all of the people I only met once, whether they want to meet again in the next few days and almost all of them agreed.
At all of those second dates we had a great time once again. I actually formed real long-term relationships through this experience, and therefore can only recommend you to make the necessary first step (or second :P).
It's hard to overcome the fear but it’s definitely worth it!
So to get the best out of Bumble BFF:
1. Set up your Profile correctly, be clear about yourself and the type of people you are looking for.
2. Don’t be shy! Make the first step, it’s easier than you think ☺️
For those who didn't know about Meetup before, it is a service used to organize online groups that usually hold in-person events.
On Meetup, you can find many active groups for various interests, hobbies, and professions. Participating is in most of the events for free.
The platform's community did a great job when the quarantine began.
Many organizers reacted immediately and started to use Zoom and similar services to host their events online.
It was a great choice since many groups gained popularity by doing this.
Even though Berlin lowered the restrictions a little bit, most organizers still keep their events online.
Only a few switched already to in-person activities again.
There is a large variety of events with consistent participant numbers and since it is not easy to get an overview of the overwhelming amount of groups on Meetup, I created a little list with some useful and interesting Meetup groups. But of course it's still worth checking out all their other events....
Meetup Group for people who are new in Berlin:
Language Meetup Groups:
Social Activitiy Meetup Groups:
Workshops and other Stuff:
Motionlab (offers a variety of Workshops for different topics, eg. Adobe Illustrator, 3D printing...)
Startups.Berlin (Startup specific Workshops, Presentations, etc.)
Outdoor Zumba (Rythmic sports dancing group, hosted by a professional Zumba coach)
There are thousands of Facebook Groups for people in Berlin that fit every interest, nationality, region, and hobby.
Nothing can beat the variety of groups that Facebook offers, no matter which interest or desire, they got a group for it.
If you are looking for people who are into a certain kind of activity (sports, art, engineering, etc.), no matter what, you will find a group for it!
To help you get started, I got some group recommendations for you .
These are groups with the main purpose of meeting new people.
The best way to get involved in those groups and connect with new people is to make a post and introduce yourself.
(Most of the posts are in German, but it’s also totally fine if you make one in English).
I know it’s way more relaxed to just read and react to the posts of others, but if you want to make the best out of those groups
you should definitely make your own post(s).
Be very clear in your post, about which type of person you are looking for and also who you are!
You can waste incredibly much time if you try to be someone different on your profile than in reality.
Here is a little example of how an introductory post could look like:
My name is Sharon, I am 30 years old. I am working as a UX-desdigner for a startup in Berlin-Kreuzberg, which is also the area where I will live.
In my spare time I enjoy playing table tennis and slack-lining, but I also love deep conversations about political topics and history as well as a good drink in a nice bar.
My favourite kind of music is Jazz and I would also gladly appreciate it if someone recommended me a good jazz bar in Berlin.
If you feel like we might have a fun time, feel free to send me a message or comment on this post. By the way, I am working 9 to 5 on workdays and am flexible on the weekends :)
Groups for certain Origins & Expat Groups:
Those groups are mainly focused on helping each other (to find a flat, a job, or to get some advice) and less about meeting up with the other members to build friendships.
It is a possibility, but not the main purpose of those groups.
Courses are generally one of the best ways of making new friends. You'll meet the same people multiple times what gives you the possibility to grow a real relationship way more easy than when you meet somebody just one time. When you meet somebody only once even if you like each other a lot, chances are high that you'll never meet up again. Because your relationship is not deep enough yet to reach out to each other and ask for a second "date"... Result is you'll never see each other again.
Compared to the situation in a course where you really have time to grow a relationship with the people who are also taking part...
Berlin offers a huge variety of all kind of different courses. So what course you should go for is just a matter of your preferences... You can do anything you like from sports (volleyball, yoga...) dancing, music to learning any kind of new skills (design, painting...) You can really choose whatever you like! :-)
Even though it is possible to live in Berlin without being able to speak German, it's in my opinion an essential part of living abroad to know the mother tongue of your new home country.
It is very important if you want to connect with locals and be integrated in their community. I would definitely recommend you to visit a German class if you don't or didn't already.
Language courses are not only helpful because you will afterwards be able to talk to more people (the more people, the more potential friends), but they are also an excellent opportunity to meet others who are also new to Berlin. Meeting the same people regularly makes it a lot easier to establish a friendship and to form a deeper connection.
Moreover, you might get to know people that go through the same experience as you do, the same struggles, but also the same achievements and joy.
Be open minded and ask your classmates to grab a drink or get some food together after the lesson, they will be as glad to connect with you as you are the other way around.
Find tandem groups together with your classmates or join other regular activities as a group, in addition to your course can for example be a good idea.
And in case your German is already perfect and you don’t need a course, why not try to learn a new language? :P
In order to help you making the right choice, I selected a list of great language schools for you:
Language Groups on Facebook:
All three groups are perfect for finding a partner to practice the language you are learning. As someone learning German you look for a native speaker who is currentIy learning your own mother tongue.
This is called a "Language Tandem". A tandem partner helps a lot in the learning process and you furthermore get to know another person to become friends with :-)
What is Circles?
Circles is an app that matches you with a group of likeminded people.
The cool thing is that you meet as a group of people. Therefore, you directly get to know multiple people at once.
More people means higher chances that you meet somebody you really want to hang out with and enjoy spending time with.
Additionaly, meeting in a group has the advantage that it creates a more relaxed atmosphere than meeting somebody you have never seen before one to one.
Awkward moments of silence are less likely, and you don't have to be in the center of attention all the time.
How to use Circles?
Currently, the app is still in the beta stadium in Berlin.
The first step is to sign up for the beta, and then they'll reach out to you via email and send you an invitation link.
The profile creation is quite easy, and you'll be asked a couple of questions that you can answer by multiple choice.
Just be honest here, and it will be enough to end up with a solid profile.
After you complete your profile, you'll be matched once a week with a group of up to 4 others.
The matching process happens automatically and therefore you don't have to swipe or do similar time-consuming things like that.
As you are matched based on your interests and your personality, chances are very high that you'll end up with a group that fits you perfectly.
So after registering you get matched with your group/ Circle and put in a group chat with them.
Now it's time, don't be shy!
Ideally, you ask the other members of your Circle directly whether they want to meet up for a particular activity you all have in common or if they want to meet in a bar, coffee, restaurant, or park.
As you are several people, somebody else might ask as well, but I would still highly recommend you to do that job by yourself.
You have nothing to lose - so why not go for it?!
When you meet up with your Circle, just be yourself and you will have a great time.
Don’t forget to exchange phone numbers with the people you like, obviously staying further connected is very important.
An excellent trick to ask for the phone number without being awkward is making a new plan right away:
"Let's meet at the Bar next Saturday again"
To ensure you can stay in contact if something crosses your plans, it's the best to exchange phone numbers, et voila.
But there are plenty more ways of course.
If you had a great day with the group just being straight forward and asking the others to exchange numbers will do the job as well, so don't worry too much about the how, the important thing is that you do it in the end.