The 11 types of American you meet in Berlin

True, there are thousands of Americans living amongst us in Berlin, but these are the most common members of the species to be observed in the German capital.

The 11 types of American you meet in Berlin
Photo: DPA.

You hear us on the U-Bahn before you see us because we're usually the loudest ones there. Try as we might, we can't quite knock our horrible accents when we speak to you in German (but let's face it, few of us können Deutsch). And we're constantly seeking out craft beer bars “like we have in the States”.

There are many of us and we are quite diverse, yes, but there are some common attributes that tend to lump us into certain groups.

1. The “artist”

Whether the “artist” came to Berlin with the intention to dive right into its creative scene, or somehow discovered their inner Picasso along their journey of self-reflection here, he or she is quite easily recognized.

This type has an entourage of international, like-minded friends who socialize with bottles of wine rather than beer and always know how to put together the classic all-black Berlin clothing ensemble a tad bit better than everyone else.

They may tend to prattle on about their “work” together – even if they don’t yet have any artwork to speak off.

2. The startup bro/gal

“I've developed an app that makes Berlin look just like San Francisco.” Photo: DPA

There are two main kinds of startup scene American in Berlin: those who were transferred here for a job, or those who took a tech job because they wanted to live in Berlin and couldn’t speak German.

And while truthfully most American expats in Berlin never really learn the native tongue, this lot is the worst for their level of incomprehension because “we don’t have to” due to their English-centric tech work.

You might meet them at St. Oberholz – a hip cafe in the central Rosenthalerplatz – sipping an over-priced cappuccino in front of their Macbook Air. Or awkwardly trying to get into a club wearing a North Face jacket.

3. The student

It’s the first time living in (or even visiting) anywhere outside the US for Berlin students, and the three-month to one-year programmes are bound to be a rollercoaster of emotions.

At first, they’ll dive into everything the capital has to offer that they can’t get at home – drinking in public, 48-hour-plus parties, underground art shows. They’ll tell the folks back home how they’re never coming back, how it’s so much better than the US, how beer is cheaper than water.

“Oh my God, Europe is like so full of history!” Two women take a selfie in front of the Brandenburg Gate, Berlin. Photo: DPA

But sooner than they’ve finished sending out their first selfie by the remains of the Berlin Wall, the tides will start to turn. They’ll lament that they “miss Mexican food”, even though they’ve never been south of the border. They’ll taste their first dose of German bureaucracy – “but how can I register at the Bürgeramt within two weeks of moving if there are no available appointments for six months?!” And they’ll grow frustrated with the rush to buy groceries before shops shut down on Sundays.

This will lead to premature homesickness and feelings of isolation when they complain that “Berliners are not friendly”. And also the eye-roll-inducing explanations to non-American friends of how “In The States, we do this…” and “In the States, we don’t do that.”

Sooner or later, they’ll settle in with their group of fellow student friends, predominantly other Americans, and dream about maybe returning to Berlin one day, if they can ever get that visa stuff sorted out.

4. The Bowie-era lifers

“Hello, this is 1987 calling.” Photo: DPA

They came before the Wall fell and stayed for the anarchic, free-spirited vibe that followed. They can tell you how “Prenzi” – the gentrified neighbourhood of Prenzlauerberg – used to be endless squats and squalor before it became filled with baby-carriages and cool coffee shops. And they have enough experience to know that Wedding will never be “the next thing”.

This group is the most settled-in of the expats having already found their “self” that so many newcomers seem to seek in the city.

5. The Brooklyn-Berliners

Bottles of Club Mate. Photo: DPA

If there’s not already, there should be a Berlin exchange programme for restless hipsters living in Brooklyn, considering the rate at which they seem to come here to “get out of New York”. Go ahead and do a survey around Williamsburg and you’ll find that basically everyone either “has a friend who once lived in Berlin” or “considered moving there before coming to Brooklyn”.

They’ll debate constantly whether Kreuzberg is what Brooklyn wants to be, or in fact Brooklyn is what Kreuzberg wants to be. They’ll compare rent prices non-stop – “I couldn’t rent a broom closet in Bed-Stuy for that much!”

But they will inevitably move back and “revolutionize” the City that Never Sleeps by selling Club Mate for $6 at their bars.

6. The writer


Working from my favorite cafe today in Berlin ☕️????

A post shared by Adam ? Top 25 Travel Blogger (@travelsofadam) on Aug 11, 2015 at 6:31am PDT

The writer sees their outsider's worldview as giving them a leg-up on all the hundreds of other hopefuls who have come to the city before them, drawn in by its complex history and cool appeal. Maybe they're writing for one of the many successful English-language food or lifestyle blogs. Maybe they're explaining to the world how German parents raise their children better than others, or analyzing the burgeoning international leadership role of Germany through insightful think pieces.

Or maybe they're stuck in a startup job they didn't want, writing SEO reports and editing press releases because Berlin is “poor but sexy” and no one is willing to actually pay you for good copy. 

7. The “gone native”


Totally in style for #berlin thanks to @bywpwolfgangproksch sunglasses. #berlinhipster

A post shared by Kristin Gebert (@kristingebert) on Sep 17, 2015 at 7:06am PDT

This type has worked truly hard to drop all semblances of their American selves. They almost religiously dress in all black. They’ve perfected their Berlinerisch “jut”. And they do a complete 180 if they ever find themselves heading in the direction of fellow Americans, lest they get roped into that mindless, excited chit-chat of “What brought you to Berlin? How’d you get a visa?” – or worse, become friends with someone non-European.

Still, despite their advanced level of German, they always write their Instagram captions in English, just so their friends back in the States know what a cool Berliner they've become.

8. The permanent drifter

They came to Berlin just to pass through, but fell in love with it and are somehow still here months later, couch-surfing from WG to WG. They live in Berghain, are obsessed with clichéd  markers of Berlin cool, like Mustafa’s Gemüse Kebap and Club Mate, and think they’ve figured out everything there is to know about the city.

But inevitably they’ll fear overstaying the automatic three-month tourist visa since they never thought this through and will go back to the US, only to continually tell others about the time they “lived in Berlin” for two and a half months.

9. The persistently American, American

“Hell yeah, my hometown craft brew is better than Bavarian beer!” Photo: DPA

This kind of expat has worked quite hard to build their own little US bubble around them. They have a VPN so they can stream American Netflix shows and get around GEMA’s restrictions on YouTube. They surround themselves with English-speaking friends, only discuss US politics and their eyes start to glaze over if you begin to discuss the shortcomings of Germany’s current coalition government.

Any chance they get, they’ll give friends visiting from the States a laundry list of American products to bring along with them to Berlin. When their local Edeka started selling Sierra Nevada, they were over the moon.

10. The not-so-American, American

“Why am I the only one who realises that sauerkraut with French fries is so delicious?” Photo: DPA

This breed is in a bit of an identity crisis, all the time. They were somewhat raised in Germany because maybe a parent was in the military, or native German, so they know a heck of a lot more about the country's culture than most. Then, feeling a bit out of place in the US, they moved to Berlin hoping to feel a bit more at home. But since Berlin is “ganz anders” from the rest of Germany, they still don't quite fit.

11. The love-torn American

Will they still be so in love when Berlin's brutal winter hits? Photo: DPA

If not seeking parties, tech jobs or artsy-fartsy open-mindedness, many Americans end up in Berlin because of the most powerful force that can drive a person to cross both land and sea: love.

They'll casually mingle with their partner's friends and solemnly wonder whether they really should have moved here when winter hits. But time will only tell whether they stay and morph into one of the aforementioned other expat species, or get fed up, break up and head back Stateside.

12. The “actually I'm Canadian”

Our northern-dwelling brethren are quite sneaky when living abroad. You can start up a chat with them about the same cultural references, food brands and TV shows that we all know and start to think they're from your home country.

Then suddenly an “aboot” or “ootside” floats out of their throat with that distinct Canadian tone and you know they're from Bieber-land, proud of their Maple syrup and moose.

You might at times feel pangs of jealousy around them because when a German starts to denounce “Scheisse Amis,” they have an easy out: “Actually, I'm Canadian.”

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Your guide to celebrating Thanksgiving in Germany in 2020

Whether you're American or not, if you're seeking your turkey and pumpkin pie fix in Germany this year, here's how to get it - and more - amid social distancing requirements.

Your guide to celebrating Thanksgiving in Germany in 2020
A typical Thanksgiving dinner in served in the US state of Alabama. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Like many celebrations that have been indelibly altered by the coronavirus pandemic, Thanksgiving is no different. 

But we’re here to help make those cranberry sauce-soaked, gravy-covered dreams come true, even in 2020. 

Here's your complete guide, whether you're celebrating on 'Turkey Day' (November 26th) itself or in the days leading up to it. 

READ ALSO: Where in Germany do all the Americans live?

Track down a turkey, or have one delivered

As you may have noticed, there aren’t exactly rows of frozen turkeys on offer in German supermarkets as in the US come November. But there are still options if you’re set on noshing on some slowly roasted North American fowl.

High-end department stores, like KaDeWe in Berlin, often provide the pricey opportunity to scoop up a frozen turkey, but you can also try calling up a local butcher to order one in advance. The department store Karstadt also offers turkeys, as does Rewe in their online store. 

An alternative is to settle for a whole chicken or goose – much more common in grocery stores – or simply pick up part of a turkey, called Pute or Truthahn in German.

If you’d rather avoid the stress and hassle of the grocery store, these two delivery services may be helpful:

Gourmet Pute

Delivering throughout Germany, Gourmet Pute also features a special Thanksgiving menu that includes all of the classics (mashed potatoes, roasted vegetables, and all other glorious add-ons). They offer Freilandpute (free-range turkeys) and sides for up to twelve people. They are not only available for Thanksgiving; check them out for other specialty meat and meal deliveries throughout the year!

This catering website also offers Turkeys (ranging from 8 to 16 kg) right in time for the holiday. Make sure to order soon, as the site requires a five day notice to ensure a timely arrival. They ship to Berlin and surrounding areas. 

2. Find food substitutes

As with turkey, sometimes you can’t always find the right ingredients you need for American fare. Take cornbread, for example. The most important component is cornmeal, but this doesn’t really exist in German cuisine. The best substitute that this American has found is called Maisgrieß – and it always turns out delicious.

If you're a vegetarian or vegan, you can also pick up a turkey substitute made of Tempeh (complete with vegan gravy) at the Berlin supermarket Veganz or order online throughout Germany.

Thanks to globalisation there are ever more North American products on offer in German supermarkets, especially in Edeka, Aldi, and Lidl, many of which often have small ‘American’ sections.

Cranberries used to be tough to find in Germany supermarkets, although now many chains such as Rewe and Lidl are carrying the common Canadian berry en masse, both fresh and in the can.

If you can’t track them down though, a good substitute can also be Preiselbeeren, known as lingonberries or cowberries in English. They have a similar taste to cranberries and can be found already jarred as a jam or preserves in many German supermarkets.

Find the right equipment

Tracking down a proper pie dish can be another challenge since apparently this treat is not so common in Germany.

For future reference, if you love making pies, it’s probably a good idea to have an American bring a pie dish along on their next visit – or pick one up yourself when you’re in the US.

But when you can’t get your hands on one in time, try getting creative with a tart or torte pan, or Tortenbodenform

Learn to convert into metric measurements

If you’re looking to use grandma’s traditional cornbread stuffing recipe, but realise you have no clue how to measure out the right proportions using the metric system, don’t worry.

There are plenty of online converters to do the hard work for you – like the one on

And if you’re really in doubt, try using a similar recipe by a British website instead (which like the BBC tend to have grams and ounces).

Want to avoid the stress and agony of cooking a large meal? Delivery is the answer!

With the recent lockdown measures in place for the entirety of November, coupled with Merkel’s urgent appeal for all to dramatically and consistently reduce contact with others as much as possible, it is perhaps best to simply order in. Luckily there are a few special Berlin-based delivery options available. 

RosaCaleta Catering

The Jamaican-European RosaCaleta restaurant is offering a special Thanksgiving menu. Keeping with their Caribbean-European fusion style, their Thanksgiving menu offers “Jerk Turkey” and “Classic Jamaican Jerk Pork” alongside more traditional mainstays like Macaroni and Cheese, green beans, and cornbread stuffing. They also offer a complete three-course meal for €26 per person. 

The restaurant is located in Berlin-Kreuzberg, and is open for take-away between 2pm and 8pm. Best to call and order early!

Hirsch und Hase

This Gastro pub has been closed during the November lockdown, but is reopening for a Thanksgiving special on November 26th.

They are offering all of the classics, as well as vegetarian options like lentil stuffing. For dessert they are offering homemade pumpkin pies. Individual portions are available for €16, or you can order family style.

Dishes are available “oven ready” from 2 pm onward on Thanksgiving day, or pick up your order already hot and ready to eat between 6 and 7 pm. 

Fraulein Kimchi & Humble Pie

This Korean-American-German food truck and catering service is offering a traditional Southern-US inspired meal. They are teaming up with the folks from Humble Pie (a delightful red food truck specialising in southern comfort food) to offer a delectable full Turkey Day meal. 

They offer a menu for €39, and for those looking to keep off the Quarantine 15, a ‘lite’ option for €29. To make it extra-special and authentic, they are offering both pumpkin and pecan pies. 

They will be delivering on Wednesday and Friday of Thanksgiving week, and are open for in-house pie pick-up at their shared kitchen in Weißensee. Check out their website for timely details!

Fortuna’s Table

Fortuna's Table, a catering and private dining service housed in Neukölln, is offering a special Thanksgiving meal. They are offering all of the classics, like creamy mashed potatoes, buttered corn, and even ginger-rum cranberry sauce. There are vegetarian options, as well as the chance to purchase an entire three-course menu, or a la carte. 

Fortuna’s Table will deliver anywhere in a 10 kilometre radius from their kitchen on Weserstraße for €10. Don’t fret if you live a bit farther away, they will still deliver for just a bit more cash. To ease the preparation stress even more, turkeys come already carved, and the sides packed into separate containers that can go straight in the oven for heating.

Fortuna’s Table has been going strong in Berlin for the past fifteen years, and is run by a Michigander with experience in the New York City food scene – it’s bound to be a delicious lockdown holiday experience!

HardRock Cafe Cologne

For those living in Cologne, you’re in luck! The HardRock Cafe is offering a traditional Thanksgiving meal that folks can pick up curb side between noon and 9 pm.

HardRock Cafe Berlin

Hard Rock Cafe Berlin is also offering a traditional Thanksgiving meal – order via Lieferando, or email [email protected]