Fiona Moore is originally from Burton-on-Trent, near Birmingham, and now works as a freelance translator in Bremen. She fell in love with Bremen in her early twenties. That was back in 2000, but 17 years later she is still as enchanted by the city as she was on the first day. Below she tells us about settling in Bremen, about her family and about being fortunate to have found a home in here.
Fiona, tell us a little about yourself...
I'm 39 years old and was born in the UK. My husband is Spanish and we have two children. I've been living in Bremen for 17 years. We recently took on German citizenship, which is great as we now have dual nationality.
Why is becoming a German citizen so important to you?
The Brexit vote was the deciding factor for me. Having an EU passport and being able to vote were the two main reasons. My identity is not bound up with my passport, that's just a piece of paper, but life is so much easier with an EU passport. Otherwise I might have had to apply for a visa every three years after Brexit. And I wanted to be able to vote.
What brought you to Bremen from the UK?
I came to Bremen right after graduating. I didn't know at the time what to do with my life and I was offered an internship here. I came here with the idea of staying a year, but then I got hooked. Bremen really got under my skin.
Did you speak German before you came here?
I studied French and German at university. When I got here, my level of German was OK. But once you're here and have a proper conversation, there's a world of difference! At least I had the fundamentals and was able to get by, but in the beginning people would always speak to me in English. They really enjoy speaking English here and want to practice it at every opportunity. They're quite cosmopolitan and like to communicate.
How difficult was it for you to settle here?
Both my husband and I were made to feel very welcome. It's said that people from northern Germany are reserved and a little unfriendly, and that you have to know them for a long time before they open up to you. But that hasn't been our experience at all. We quickly built up a network, and the family is now fully integrated.
So you never felt lonely…
No! I lived in student accommodation when I first arrived, which was good because I met loads of people my age. And that's also where I met my husband. And after a year I thought to myself: "Come on, stay a little longer." And, well – I'm still here!
How easy was it to get a job?
The internship fell into my lap; I didn't need to do anything. When that finished after a year, I temped for a bit before applying for a job at a translation agency. I stayed there for six years. When I fell pregnant ten years ago, I set up my own company – and it has been going very well ever since. The translation market is booming, and my colleague and I are very pleased. Working for yourself means you can be very flexible, especially when you have children. I can work from the office or from home.
What are the differences between Bremen and the UK?
My children are now eight and ten, and I have to say they're a lot more independent than I think they'd be back in England. They cycle on their own a lot – to play sports, to go to the shops… My sister in England doesn't let her children cycle to school on their own. In Bremen, it's the norm, but then the city is very bike-friendly. And I think the system has been designed that way. You can get everywhere by bike. Children don't have to cycle on the roads as the whole route is by cycle path. And all the children do that. That's the culture here, this focus on independence.
And what about similarities between Bremen and the UK?
Haha, the weather is the same. Three days of summer. Similarities with Burton-on-Trent? They both have a river and a lot of breweries. So, river and beer. But Burton-on-Trent lacks the cultural diversity. Bremen just has a lot more to offer. Whenever you have visitors, you always notice how many options there are for things to do and see. My parents really love Bremen too!
If you come from a big city, you might laugh at Bremen, but there's plenty to do here if you look for it. If you open yourself up to it, you just have to love Bremen!
What do you do in your spare time?
I go to the cinema a lot, and the museums in Bremen and Bremerhaven are also great. We almost always get an annual season ticket for the Universum Bremen – that's really good. We live near the Rhododendron Park. When everything is in bloom in May it's just out of this world. Amazing. The Klimahaus and the German Emigration Centre are also worth a visit. And the Christmas markets are spectacular. Every year at Christmas, we get a lot of visits from friends and family – they all want to go to the Christmas markets.
Is Bremen an international city?
Definitely! There are a lot of Brits and Spaniards here. My neighbour is English, and I have another who's French. I think that says it all. Bremen has a history of being cosmopolitan, and the city very much remains so. It's very multicultural, and that's a good thing.
Why would you recommend Bremen to other people from the UK?
There's a great choice of arts and entertainment, for example the Breminale arts festival, arthouse cinemas and theatre. And the city is quite compact. Even the airport – you can drive right up to the terminal. You don't get that very often. And there's always a slice of nature close by to escape to. You're in the Bürgerpark in no time. Bremen is great for families. I always feel safe, even when I go out by myself in the evening or am out and about on my bike.
And you get so much more house for your money here! If we had gone back to the UK, there's no way we could've bought the type of house we have here. And we would be commuting for two hours. Here it takes me twenty minutes by bike to get to work. It's just brilliant that everything is so close together here.
What would your advice be to people who are new to Bremen?
The first step to integration is learning the language. Become part of society. There are many opportunities to integrate, for example through the local sports club.
And what about getting to know the city?
Anyone wanting to experience Bremen should simply go for a walk through the city. Start in the Viertel – I adore all the little shops and cafés there. Then continue on to the Kunsthalle art gallery and walk across the beautiful market square. It's incredible. As you continue on, you can see Bremen's history and how the city has evolved. Then you arrive in Überseestadt, which also has plenty to offer. No matter where in Bremen you are, it's always buzzing. Those old dockside warehouses and all that. I really like Bremen.
If you are interested in moving to Bremen from abroad, please feel free to contact Andreas Gerber, head of the international relocation team at WFB, tel: +49 (0)421 960 0123, firstname.lastname@example.org.
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