Geoffrey Rude & Alex Bloom: Spontaneous Adventure to Teach Abroad
Our special guests on The Moving Roadmap podcast, powered by Avvinue, are Geoffrey Rude & Alex Bloom.
Alex and Geff are both American expats living in Berlin, Germany. They are the co-hosts of the expat advice podcast ""Americans in Germany Drinking Whiskey.
Transcripts are automatically generated and may not be an 100% accurate transcription.
Nicole (Host): Welcome to the moving roadmap podcast powered by Avvinue. My name is Nicole. And I'll be your host for the show. In this episode we are excited to introduce our guests, Geoffrey Rude and Alex Bloom, Alex and Geff are both American experts living in Berlin, Germany. They're both co-hosts for the expert advice podcast, Americans in Germany, Drinking Whiskey. Welcome to the show, Alex and Geff.
Yeah. Awesome to nice have you. okay. So curious to know, okay. You're both Americans. You're both living in Berlin. Are you both from the same city?
Alex Bloom: No.
Nicole (Host): Okay. Okay. Geff, where are you from?
Geoffrey Rude: So, I'm from California, the Santa Cruz area Bay area of California.
Nicole (Host): Awesome. And Alex, where are you from?
Alex Bloom: I'm from Rhode Island, the Rhode Island area of Rhode Island.
Nicole (Host): That's a tiny, tiny, tiny area of Rhode Island. Okay.
Love it. so, okay. So did you guys meet in Berlin? Did you meet in the US tell me a little bit about your story?
Alex Bloom: Yeah, we met in Berlin. I'm a kindergarten teacher and I'm really good friends with his girlfriend. And so we've worked together for a few years. Her and Geff got together and then we became friends and started doing a podcast together. Pretty much.
Nicole (Host): That is awesome. And when did you guys move to Berlin? And it sounds like I'm saying you guys moved together, but like separately, where did, when did you guys move?
Geoffrey Rude: I moved to Berlin actually twice, originally in 2009 and things didn't. Quite work out and I had to go back to the US and kind of regroup.
And then I moved back to Berlin in 2011, and I've been there ever since.
Nicole (Host): Oh,Wow. Okay. So two times Berlin stole your heart twice. Love it.
Geoffrey Rude: Yeah. I just knew I had to come back, but, the first time I went, I wasn't prepared. So I had to, I had to do a little redo. Yeah.
Nicole (Host): What were some of the things you had to do, like to prepare better?
Just curious to know, what was that like?
Geoffrey Rude: Well also the first time I went, I wasn't quite sure how long I was going to stay. So I was kind of just on my tourist visa. And so, that kind of ran out and I wasn't aware at the time of the fact that I could have then applied for a separate visa within Germany.
You know, this was, years ago and also, yeah, I didn't really plan. I didn't bring enough stuff. Yeah. I didn't research enough. The visa situation. I just overall was an unprepared cause originally I just came to do a language school for a few months and then leave. I was, I had no idea that, that I was going to fall in love with Berlin and want to stay, you know, long term,
Nicole (Host): Love it.
And really good point, you know, like there's a lot of paperwork and figuring out all of the documentation that's needed to stay long term. So completely understand about that. So what about the other story Alex?
Alex Bloom: Yeah, I moved here in October 2013 and yeah, it was because I had a friend from college who lived here for a year already and she hit me up one drunken night, just telling me what a great time at night she's having.
And I was like, I told her, just come, come move over. And, I was like, you know, I said, can you find me a job? And he's like, Aw, plenty of kindergarten jobs just come on over. You can sleep at my place. No problem. And, at that point, I was having trouble finding a job. I was working at a pizza place.
Wasn't super, like, super happy. So I was like, alright, I'll just, I'll get a one-way ticket and see what happens. And yeah. Then I found a job a month and a half later. I lived with her little, I lived in her kitchen above the cabinets and little crawlspace. Eight months.
Nicole (Host): I'm picturing it. Yeah, it sounds so comfortable
Alex Bloom: Better than it sounds, to be honest, but just kind of fell into place once I kind of figured out how to navigate the city. Yeah, I never left.
Nicole (Host): Awesome. I love that. So completely different stories, but like everything kind of. Revolved around getting everything situated and then finding a job. So very cool. When did you know that you wanted to move abroad and Geff, I know you went, you studied abroad, so probably that kind of ties in, but when did you know you wanted to have that international experience?
Geoffrey Rude: For me it actually, it started when I graduated high school, me, and a friend. Decided to do a long, you know, two months backpacking trip through Europe. And that was kind of my real first time abroad. And just the fact that, you know, you can go from one culture, one country, one language to another with each day.
I just, I fell in love with that. And then I think, two summers later we did another backpacking trip and it was towards the end of that backpacking trip when I just said, okay, when I get home, I'm just going to start planning my move, you know, like I was like, okay, obviously you love it. Stop, stop doing your small little trips and just try it out for a few months and see what happens.
Nicole (Host): Yeah. Isn't it funny how that happens? Like once you do it, it's like addictive.
Geoffrey Rude: Exactly. Yeah. I couldn't stop. So I just said, okay, it'll be cheaper if I just live in, in, somewhere in Europe and then I can travel from there and they're just flying back and forth.
Nicole (Host): Yeah. I was going to say very long flight.
Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. Also, a reason why I consider to move abroad, I'm in France. Yeah. It was like, I just love the opportunity to be able to hop on over, quick train ride to Switzerland, quick train ride here, there. So, definitely more affordable and love that you can just see so many different cultures, so close by.
A hundred percent. Yeah. Okay. So tell me, how long did it take you guys to feel ready to move? So let's say, all right, Geff, you mentioned your backpacking, then you're like, all right, I want to make this happen. But when you guys decided from the moment you visited and traveled, but how long did it take you to actually feel ready to make that move?
Geoffrey Rude: Hmm. Okay. I'll just go real quick. When I decided to do the move between then, and actually the move itself, I think it was three or four months. So, I knew I needed to first find an apartment, you know, sort of do some research on the visa situation, you know, kind of get me. What do you call it?
Might, get my businesses in order. you know, and I think also I needed that three months just to, you know, let the fact hit me that I was actually doing it, you know? So I said those three months is what I needed before I moved.
Nicole (Host): Awesome. And Alex, I know you had a drunken combo with your friend that convinced you, so, was it more than three months?
Alex Bloom: It was actually, yeah, after that morning, I went down to my mom and I was like, mom, I'm going to go to Germany. I can see you doing that. And I had never been abroad before. Really never been to Europe or anything. So I was, like pretty out there. Collin's one of those things where you're going to have like college is over, right?
Yeah. I figure my life out and this is where he's going to throw itself in my lap. And so, yeah, that was in August and I moved in October. So I needed a few months as well. So make some money, do some research and where the hell I was going. So nobody knew anything about Berlin. So, yeah, it took, it took a few months then at the old toll on my friends and kind of like getting emotionally ready to say goodbye, to everyone.
Nicole (Host): Yeah.
Alex Bloom: But it didn't really hit me until like, I think three, four months actually living here, it was like, oh, I'm actually living here.
Nicole (Host): Isn't it funny how, like, it's almost like you have a Traveler's mind, like, Oh, you're a tourist, but then it hits you like, Oh shoot. I really live here. But it's so rewarding. Isn't it?
Alex Bloom: Absolutely.
Geoffrey Rude: Yeah.
Nicole (Host): Awesome. Okay. So it sounds like you guys. Made great impulse decisions that you don't regret. Right? Like it seems really awesome. You guys are still living there. So what about, what were some of the challenges you experienced? Cause yes, three months, a few months planning, but like, man, what were some of the challenging things you came across?
Alex Bloom: I'll go first. This one, I guess. I, obviously looking for a job. It's always a challenge, but I think that's, anywhere. Okay. And then also getting the visa, going to the visa office is a big hurdle. And having someone who can help you is pretty helpful because there's a lot of things that Germany's not really good at explaining what they want.
A lot of paperwork that was a big hurdle. And then I think the biggest one is like really finding, finding a friend group, finding people that you want to spend time with because at the beginning, you know, everyone, you want your friends and everybody. They're there and you have no one else. You have no family or your high school friends to lean back on.
So that took like a few years to really feel like I'm, you know, have my own community and feel like I'm part of the city. So that was one of the biggest challenges, kind of like having a place of, belonging.
Nicole (Host): Yeah, definitely. and kind of like what was said with, you know, going over the few months of. Realizing. Oh, shoot. Like I live here. Part of that is building a community and that really takes time.
Geoffrey Rude: Yeah.
Nicole (Host): Alex, did you, are you now fluent in German?
Alex Bloom: I like to think I am.
Nicole (Host): Don't worry. I won't test you. And what about you, Geff?
Geoffrey Rude: Yeah, I think it's pretty similar to Alex. For me originally, it was finding an apartment. I kind of made a stupid decision to try and find an apartment while I was still in the States because I wanted everything to be prepared and ready to go.
And I found it really difficult. Few people want to give an apartment or a room to somebody they haven't met in person and developed a trust with. so. that took a lot of work. I eventually did find one, but it ended up being, not, not a great experience. and then also, as you mentioned, the, the visa situation, I went and I applied for my visa by myself.
And, even when you're brand new to the country and applying for a language visa, they're still not allowed to talk to you in English. So, you know, I know maybe five words of German at this point, and they're trying to. Do the visa interview in German. And it was really frustrating. And I think I had to do it twice just cause I screwed it up the first time.
I can't really remember, but, but yeah, those two things were really difficult. And like you said, it can take, you know, a year or two to really develop a core friend group. And especially at the time when he first arrived and he didn't have a job and you're not going to school. You know, those, like, it's your two main avenues to meet people.
And so you're trying to have to be creative to figure out kind, well, what else can I need people? And you're looking through Facebook groups or, you know, just, you know, just, just so you're not alone and have other people to hang out with, you know, who are the similar experience?
Nicole (Host): Yeah, definitely. So, I mean, great for sharing that because, you know, finding an apartment is really tricky.
No matter where you live and there's, or no matter where you move in the world, every country is so different. So you kind of touch on maybe a cultural thing. Like they like to meet you in person. Whereas, you know, maybe in the United States is like, but can you pay, okay. That's what matters? Yeah.
Geoffrey Rude: You have the money in the bank account. That's all I care about.
Nicole (Host): Yeah, exactly. So very different, you know, country to country. Okay. So it seems like, you know how you mentioned it takes several years to build a community, but you guys met in Berlin, you guys host a podcast together. So what's your story? Creating a friendship group or how did you guys meet. How did you guys decide to create a podcast? Curious.
Geoffrey Rude: As you mentioned, like my girlfriend is one of his colleagues and so it was really just one of these things we started dating and then it was the kind of meet the friends and all off. A lot of her friends are her coworkers. So I met all of her coworkers, right away. And, yeah, and I think because me and Alex are both American, so maybe, maybe that helps.
I don't know. He was one of them. I didn't. I really didn't. I don't really don't have that many American friends. So maybe that's what kind of slowly brought us together over time.
Alex Bloom: Yeah. And then we were at, we went out for his girlfriend's birthday. We went to the beer garden and then we just, him and I just started talking across the table about our experiences and shared experiences and blah, blah, blah.
And then either my girlfriend has gone from like you guys just to make a podcast about it. Yeah. And yeah, maybe I don't know. Let's finally talk about it. So you mean like a huge list of all these ideas and they're like, Oh, we could actually, we could do this. And then what was it? Six, eight months later, we actually did it.
Geoffrey Rude: Yeah. Yeah. We slowly started buying the equipment and then, you know, we got busy, but then finally, what was it around January? We said, okay, let's go, let’s get to do this. And then yeah, we've been doing it ever since.
Nicole (Host): Love it. That's so awesome. I mean, I'm sure even your friendship too has grown closer. Cause I mean to be, to do a podcast together, that's, that's pretty awesome. Sharing your story.
Alex Bloom: For sure. It's a good whiskey. So that's nice too.
Nicole (Host): So what were some things you didn't expect to happen during your move?
Geoffrey Rude: Hmm.
Alex Bloom: I feel like some things kind of fell into place a little for me, at least a little too easily, which I didn't expect at all.
Like, well, what I didn't expect to actually live here, I really just thought I was going to be a three-month vacation, but the job search kind of went pretty decently quickly because Berlin has a high demand for kindergarten teachers, especially English speaking. So, getting the job and the visa was difficult.
The job was pretty quick. And then like, at least in Germany getting the big account and health insurance and all that stuff. It's like, it's like a snap of the fingers. Once you have the job, like, Oh, what is your health insurance? I don't know. Well, how about this one? Okay. What bank do you want? Oh, no, how's this.
Okay. Oh, I'm an adult now. Like I'm done. That's really cool. Yeah, it was an easy system. Can be, that it was a nice surprise for sure.
Nicole (Host): Alex, you just summarize like the perfect adulting ever, because I'm pretty sure nobody else has ever described it. Like that.
Alex Bloom: Talk to my friends in America, it sounds so difficult.
I feel like in Germany that just makes it so easy for you. I don't know. Maybe I'm lucky. I don't know.
Geoffrey Rude: Yeah, it was a little bit, it was a little bit trickier because I worked freelance and doing all the freelance visas and getting health insurance, that kind of stuff. When you're freelance is a whole different ball game than what Alex probably went through.
So that was, that was difficult for me. Like I started with one. I kind of, we got forced into a, actually a health insurance that I didn't really want, but I just needed it and then realized I didn't want it and was stuck with it for two years. And then I had to undo that there's a few things that kind of got forced within the beginning.
And, but I also, I did get lucky in the job situation. I think I was in Germany for six months and was nearing the point where. Yeah. Okay. I was about to go broke. Basically. I was, I was at the point where I was okay. Either spend the money on flying back home or really, or, or stay and run out of money.
And during that time I finally got offered my first true job. And, and that surprised me. Yeah. And that's, that's saved me. So, and then that job led to every other job I've had since. So, I got lucky in that sense.
Nicole (Host): Isn't it crazy. How like always when it's like, you're about to go broke, something's just like, and that changes everything, Yeah.
Yeah. Because literally you could have moved back, but look, you're still living in Berlin, so. Awesome. Love that. So now looking back, what would you have done differently in planning your move? And I know it was all kind of done, you know, in a sudden, but what would you have done differently and also think of it as, like, what advice would you give to somebody?
Because we have a lot of listeners that are planning their move abroad. and now we're giving, you know, two perspectives, but curious to know what would you have done differently?
Geoffrey Rude: Yeah, I can, I can just say I would have done 10 times as much research than I did. I would have. Talk to more people who are already living abroad.
Cause I mean, now there's so many Facebook groups that you can join and ask people who are already living where you're, you're planning on moving and ask them, how it was for them and, and what processes they had to go through. I would have done a lot more of that. I would have gotten some help at least.
I have a few friends who they kind of. Paid a service to do the visa application for them. And it was just so painless for them. And I think looking back, that was probably money well spent because I kind of tried to save money and do it by myself. And that wasn't fun. yeah, just more research and yeah, just talk to people who've done it before.
That's kind of my, my, biggest advice I can give, because. whatever you read on the internet, it changes from website to website form to form. So talk to somebody who's not only gone through it but gone through it recently and leave because things change from year to year.
Nicole (Host): That's a good point, how you just said talk to somebody recently because you know, there's some people who their first move abroad was 20 years ago, 10, 15 years ago. And it's very different versus now. So really a good point recently moved and also a very big difference between somebody who's on their first time abroad versus their fifth time abroad. So very good point.
Geoffrey Rude: Yeah.
Nicole (Host): So what about you, Alex? What would you have done differently?
Alex Bloom: I agree with Geff. Definitely. I would tell it a little more research and, figure out like, this is a place I actually want to move to.
Nicole (Host): You were convinced pretty quickly,
Alex Bloom: But also, like, in terms of like advice, but also say like, you can do all the research you want, but like at the end of the day, you've got to make the move and go listen to your gut.
If your gut is like, I have to do this, then like, do it. Worst case scenario, you lose some money on a plane ticket there and back, and it might not work out. But, I think it's situations where you have the opportunity to move or to at least explore for a few months, just listen to your gut because you can find a million reasons not to, and then a million reasons why you shouldn't do it.
But like mine was very spontaneous and it was the best decision to remain in my life. So. I think, yeah, my advice would be to listen to your gut, but also like, just do a bit of research as well. So just make sure, you know, moving through something like that.
Nicole (Host): Yeah, definitely. I love that. You know, listen to your gut, just do it.
It's going to be such a rewarding experience and yeah, I always say that too, like in the worst-case scenario, you go back to where you're comfortable. Right?
Alex Bloom: Exactly. Yeah. And I think about myself, especially the first few years. No, I don't think I would have been like who I am right now, but hadn't moved.
Nicole (Host): Yeah.
That goes into a great point. Like what has been the most rewarding experience about moving abroad?
Geoffrey Rude: Oh, where do you begin...
Alex Bloom: For me? I think the biggest thing was I'm learning, learning about learning, neat meeting people from different cultures, cause growing up on an Island, you meet people from Rhode Island.
I grew up in Rhode Island and moving here, you know, especially in a political city. You know what I mean? People from all over the world from all over Europe and then also traveling those places really gives you a much bigger perspective on, on the world and who I am in the world. And you know, what it means to be, you know, a person and it's not really philosophical, but I think really meeting people from different cultures is probably the biggest, most rewarding experience because you learn a lot about yourself as well.
Nicole (Host): Yeah.
Geoffrey Rude: Completely agree. I mean, it just gives you, I wouldn't even need this. When you say it just in the US and don't really travel or live abroad, you just have that one point of view of the world. And then as Alex said, when you move abroad, you meet. So many different people from so many different cultures and countries, I only see their point of view, but the longer you stay abroad, you develop a different point of view, kind of looking back at the US through a different lens.
I'm looking back at the world through a different lens, you know, and, and I think living abroad really kills or can easily kill any ignorance you might have just by. Speaking to people face to face, you know, that otherwise, you would have just, I don’t know, seen in the news or in a movie or, you know, it's, it's, it's so different when they're there and you, and you just see the commonalities, not the differences between people, you know, internationally.
Nicole (Host): So well said, I mean, I think, but you were philosophical. So I think it came in together. It was perfect. Awesome. So loved hearing about your story and only we only got to really just scratch the surface, but learning how your relocation journey, you know, unraveled. So I like to end things with a question.
Where’s your favorite city you've visited?
Alex Bloom: Yeah. I loved Sarajevo and Bosnia and Herzegovina, a super cool city. That is, split in the middle of kind of like the Ottoman empire and more like a European side. And the culture there is beautiful and it's inexpensive and the people are super nice and it's relatively not super well known.
Because in the East. So I'll say probably start your favorite cities, but number one, it's hard to pick, but definitely.
Geoffrey Rude: Yeah, so many, I mean, of course, I love Berlin. That's the reason I live here. but God, it's just, there's just act lift 20 off the top of my head. I think I'll just say the most surprising one for me.
It's Moscow of a place. I never thought. I would enjoy visiting and I love it so much. I think I went three times, two years, two year period. Yeah. I was extremely surprised by how much I enjoyed it. Yeah. I enjoyed Moscow. I don't know. I don't know why I had this preconception that I was going to dislike it.
And, it's actually really clean, cleaner than Berlin at times. So, yeah.
Nicole (Host): Love it. Awesome. Thanks so much for sharing your story, but I want to wrap up with how our listeners find you on social?
Alex Bloom: So we have, our Facebook: “Americans in Germany, Drinking Whiskey.” We also have an Instagram it's: “Americans.in.germany.podcast”
Geoffrey Rude: Our Facebook, our Facebook is: facebook.com/agdw.podcast, or just Google “Americans in Germany, Drinking Whiskey.” You'll see our Spotify come up and everything come up, so.
Nicole (Host): Perfect. So I'll also include the links in the description so they can follow you on your journey, listen to your podcast, “Americans in Germany, Drinking Whiskey.”
So definitely they can follow along. So thanks so much for joining our show. Loved hearing your story, and again, you know, thanks for joining!
Geoffrey Rude: Great.