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About Brockman

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  • Location Kreuzberg, Berlin
  • Nationality US
  • Hometown Long Island
  • Gender Male
  • Year of birth
  1. Life in the Moabit area of Berlin

    We have friends with 2 small children (8 & 2) who have been living in Moabit since 2013 and they love it. However, the schools are apparently not that great, so they say. Their son was in the local school for a year but it didn't go well, it was hard to make friends and there was a lot of absenteeism among the staff, and the general feeling that education was not valued as much by other parents in the school and therefore it was not an ideal learning environment for their son. They did not outwardly say this but they hinted that they felt they were culturally very different from the traditional demographic fabric of Moabit (ie they are White upper middle class Germans, and there are a lot of non-white working class immigrants in Moabit) and this probably influenced their decision to take their kid out and put him in a nearby Catholic school, which they are very happy with. Congrats and good luck!
  2. Disclaimer: I am not an expert nor am I a lawyer, and I am not giving you advice.   I looked into a similar situation a few years ago. My kid was born in Germany (me: EU/US mother: DE/EU) and we wanted to live in the US for 1 year during Elternzeit and continue to receive Elterngeld and Kindergeld. My wife and I both lived in DE for a while before our kid was born, our kid was born in DE, and we had jobs here and fully intended to return after 1 year. After extensive research / consultations with various agencies, we determined it was not possible / too complicated so we didn't go (well, we went for 2 months and then came back to DE).   Elterngeld: First, I think you can only get Elterngeld if you work, pay taxes, and live in DE (there are some exceptions, for example, if you worked in an EU country before moving to DE). If you have not worked in DE/EU before the birth, you could be eligible for the minimum amount, but my understanding is that you need to live in DE to apply for / receive it. If you leave DE with the intention to establish residency in another country, then I think the law states you must de-register your residency, and therefore you lose your eligibility for Elterngeld.   Kindergeld: Generally, if you leave DE with the intention to establish residency in another country, no, I don't think you can't get Kindergeld. In some cases it might be possible, but it is not straightforward. I think it could be OK if you live in the EU for a limited period, but you or the mother must have paid taxes in DE, or have had economic ties (ie a job) in DE. We tried asking the agency about this, but they kept asking us complicated theoretical questions back so we determined the answer was likely to be no.   The authorities who manage this stuff are among the most thorough and strict (like the Finanzamt). So basically, if you and your wife move to DE 6 months after your kid's birth, register as residents of DE, then apply for DE Kinder/Elterngeld (without having a job), the authorities are likely to view your application suspiciously, or ask you for a lot of solid evidence that you have strong personal (ie a home - rental agreement or sales agreement, family ties) / economic ties (ie a job contract) to Germany. They will want to be sure you live here, and that you intend to remain, and they will ruthlessly go out of their way to make you prove that. They asked us for a lot of documents - job contracts, residency certificates, and bank statements - they'll dig into everything, especially if you are non-DE.   I am sure there is no ill intention and apologies if I misunderstood anything, but the situation you describe (having a child outside of DE, moving to DE to apply for Eltern/Kindergeld, and then leaving DE with the intention to keep receiving Eltern/Kindergeld) is precisely the type of situation that these authorities are meant to prevent from happening.   Good luck and congrats on your upcoming life change!
  3. Du vs Sie culture in office

    A good rule of thumb I learned in my VHS German class: Use 'Sie' with anyone who is or looks over 16 years old and not your friend or relative. I tend to stick with this, except for when someone uses Du with me, then of course I use Du as well - even if it is someone I don't know. My wife once pointed out to me that they used Du with me in a shop and she thought it was weird, but I didn't take notice. Really, who cares? I am American and I work for a large American company here in Berlin, and the unofficial policy is that everyone is Du (not written in any code of conduct, but communicated at new hires orientation). I remember my German colleagues being dumbfounded that it was OK to use Du with colleagues older and more senior than them. It's still a bit weird to me after all of these years that I am expected to address people my own age as 'Frau' or 'Herr'. I always introduce myself with my first name in informal settings. Imagine calling a peer 'Mr' in the US? I'm guessing Sie will eventually fade out - the younger generations seem fine with always using Du.
  4. Vasectomy?

    Nope, not covered by public insurance (no idea about private) and it will run you about 500-600 EUR. Here you go:
  5. Problem with a weird transport company!

    They seem very shady, I would not work with them even if they change their mind and offer to move forward (they'll probably rob you). It looks like a scam and that they are trying to extort cash from you.    This is what I would do (Disclaimer: I am not a lawyer, so don't listen to me):   I would draft an email and attach all communication I have had with them so far. In that email, I would state that I canceled directly after signing the contract and then offered to rescind my cancellation, which they did not accept, and that I consider the matter closed. I would also state I will not be paying them anything, and that they should refrain from contacting me. In addition, I would notify them that I am sending a copy of this email via registered mail to the Finanzamt and Verbraucherschutz along with a complaint because I do not think they are a legitimate company - I would also CC the Finanzamt and Verbraucherschutz in the email so they can see I am going to do that (of course, I would actually do it). I would also make clear they must never contact me again, and if they do, I would consider it harassment and report it to the police. Then, if they contacted me again, I would go to the police and let them take it from there.   Of course I'm not sure of the details of your move, but 40% is €2000? That seems like a lot.   We recently got a quote for €1500 to move a 100 sq meter apartment with lots of huge furniture and boxes from one address in Berlin to another). €5000 seems like a lot, but what do I know?
  6. If what she says is true, you use more water than our family of 4. All this crap looks like: "Here I seem to have made a mistake, here are a bunch of documents. Now you figure out my mistake and pay me that amount I say..."   I would play hardball - send a registered letter stating the relationship is over, and if she wants to insist, demand to see the acknowledgement of the meter reading error from the water company, along with all of the corresponding cost breakdowns and invoices from her 'homemade' invoice.   We receive a very detailed breakdown of our Nebenkosten every year, along with copies of the invoices that the Hausverwaltung pays on our behalf. Shall we assume she receives the same? If so, she can send them to you and highlight what she thinks you owe her, and why.   Let's see how far she's willing to go to try and gouge another 600 EUR from you!
  7. Digital Impfpass, Vaccinated in USA

    When my mom visited from the US in November (she was vaccinated 3 times), I brought her to a pharmacy here in Berlin with her CDC card and they entered her data into the system and printed out a QR code for her without any further inquiries (other than to confirm the dates as they were written in US format - MM/DD/YY). She was able to install & use the CovPass app while in visiting - which is now essential as most places require the digital version with QR code (actually, she still uses CovPass in the US to prove her vaccination status - and it is accepted - as there doesn't seem to be a universal format to prove vaccine status other than the CDC card).
  8. Has there been a formal handover of the apartment, in which all outstanding debts were signed off on as settled, and the apartment was handed back to her in acceptable condition resulting in your security deposit being paid back to you in full? If yes, then your business relationship with her has concluded, and you don't owe her anything.   If you really want to settle it on her terms, then you should probably insist that she sends you unambiguous documents showing that you clearly owe the amount she states you owe. The burden of proof that you owe this money should at least be with her.
  9. First dose Biontech, second dose Moderna?

    I had AZ as my first, Biontech / Pfizer as my second, and Moderna as my third (the joke with the doctor administering the booster was that I'll get J&J as the 4th). After the 1st jab (AZ) I was in bed with slight fever, chills and body aches for 2 days. After the 2nd (BT/P), just a sore arm, and after the 3rd(MRA), a very sore arm and fatigue the day after. Congrats on getting your little one vaxxed!
  10. Bacon Bacon Bacon!
  11. 3G in Restaurants?

      My doctor told me the same - and I looked it up and there have been studies and it might be true but of course the studies were not conclusive but there were a lot of stats. It gives me a tiny bit of comfort, but I am still fully vaccinated (and scheduled to get a booster in January).