I guess everyone who moves to a new place is going to struggle at first to meet new people and make new friends.  For me Bielefeld was the 4th country  I moved to and the best trick I learned when it comes to get into your ‘new life’ is to start looking activities to enrol for as soon as possible.

As my level of German proficiency is quite high, you might think the range of activities that I can chose from is bigger. For sure I won’t advise you to join right away a debating club or theater class, but any activities where you need to ‘mirror’ the teacher works even with the most basic understanding of the language. For example, some 5 years ago, my husband and I joined a salsa class in Zürich. At the time we already knew a fair amount of  German. However the class was in the local dialect (Swiss German) and adding to this the music as a background we spent the first few weeks mirroring the teachers in the middle of a merry jibber-jabber ;). Moreover after the first class we had to rotate partners every few dances: there is something quite funny in dancing closely with a stranger who from time to time will make a remark to which you will just smile and say ‘I am sorry I don’t understand Swiss German’- to which he probably replied: ‘jibber jibber jabber-don’t understand-jabber’ and smiled back. But my point is that it is doable. Moreover during the break people started to speak with us in high German or English and after a few month we had enough grasp of Swiss German so that it wasn’t a problem anymore. So through this class, not only did we learn to dance salsa, but we also improved our Swiss German and met new people, some of which we are still now in contact with.

So here I want to share a list of things you might be interested to do in Bielefeld:

  • Except if you are already proficient in German, you might want to visit a language school. This is an excellent way to meet new people who are in the same situation than yours. Also while learning the language most teachers are going to use examples of every day life in Germany and it will be a nice way to get to know your new environment. The 2 schools I would recommend are BIBIS Schule and Tandem Schule. The school won’t necessarily tell you this but you can always ask to attend the class for 1 week (and pay for it) before enrolling for the next 2 month.
  • If you are interested in sport, the  Sportbund Bielefeld has a great offer for a very small price (for example 12 classes of 1 hour of Pilates for a total price of 52 €). You just have to make sure you register early enough.
  • Another great source of classes for reasonable prices can be found at the Volkshochschule. Their website is not very easy to navigate but you can also go there if you have question or call. They also offer German classes but they are known to be pretty bad. I personally took a theater class which was great fun :).
  • I looked for a good yoga studio for quite a long time until Loft Yoga opened near from Adenauerplatz. The teacher Edyta is great. There are also a couple of classes in English. After the class you can hang out a while at her studio and discuss with the other students. This is quite unusual in my experience as I have been to other place where people would leave without a word as soon as the class was over (not really a ‘namaste’ attitude).
  • After having tried salsa dance in Zürich, my husband and I wanted to learn a new dance style. We found a Lindy Hop school and had a great time learning the basic steps, etc. The teachers are both doing their phd at the Bielefeld university and are just great! As the school is still relatively small you get to know people very fast. They also organize social dance events during which people can take an introductory class for free.

These are just a few ideas of what you might want to start doing in Bielefeld.  If you know of other great offers for classes,etc., please do not hesitate to share in the comments!

Coralie

 

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