Well, first you gotta hold up, put your thing down, flip it and kindly reverse it. Because before you move, you should know what you’re getting yourself into. You should know what kind of people you’re getting yourself into. And no matter how much you think you’re going to fully integrate yourself into the fabric of Berlin society, one fact remains: you will always be an expat. You’re going to end up getting to know the expat world a lot better than the German one.
So after you’re done visiting the Reichstag, eating currywurst and wandering around Lidl looking for Angela Merkel, here’s a little list of the kinds of expats you may end up meeting.
The One Who Actually Moved Here for His Career
“Are you a unicorn?!” is the first thing you want to ask this expat, who’s so rich they’re wiping their ass with real Euros, and the Euro hasn’t even collapsed yet! While the rest of your friends are living below Hartz IV, this expat is riding high, eating 16 Euro salads at the SoHo House, buying Acne jeans and taking weekend trips to Paris. After all, their apartment is 300 Euros and they’re making 1700 a month. The downside? They’re always working on some insane project at work and never sleeping. Zaha Hadid’s personal assistant yells at them every day. You comfort yourself in knowing they aren’t really absorbing the “Berlin vibe” but you’re actually jealous because you don’t know what in the actual fuck you are doing in this city and they kind of… do.
The One Obsessed with Full Immersion
Good luck ever hanging out with this expat! Full immersion friends have a hard time answering your calls because they’re just so, you know…immersed. Some of them won’t even speak English because their language instructor told them not to. Advice: just wait. Full-immersion is a phase that happens during the beginning of almost every jaunt across the pond. Eventually, they’ll get frustrated and overwhelmed and want to gab about the latest Modern Family episode with someone who understands irony and sarcasm.
Oh…my god. Can this expat please document my life? Clearly I need to read-up on things like white balance and exposure because my photos look like they were taken by an early 90′s webcam. These people are living a more charmed, aesthetically-beautiful existence than you and I.
The One Who’s Always Out
You get approximately 15 Facebook invites from this expat every day. They can’t hang out tonight because they’re listening to an Afro Klesmer band, attending the launch of a new gay magazine, having a midnight pillow-fight at Brandenburger Tor and then playing Wii Sports with 15 of your other friends. You should go, but it’s -5 and there’s a new episode of Parks and Recreation you want to download and you’re generally too lazy to do anything in the winter.
The One Who’s a DJ
Basically the same as above, except the invites are for concerts at Berghain and there’s no question they’re snorting mountains of coke. Also: this Portlandia clip.
The Compulsive Liar
Once this expat infiltrated a gang of Neo-Nazis then convinced them he was Roma and the Nazis were all “whaaaaaaa?” but now they’re cool with it and they’re actually BFFs. This dude also wants to take you to this brand new club set in Hitler’s actual bunker which wasn’t destroyed (that was a FAKE bunker) and it’s got everything: fake trash bimbos, women dressed as bonobos, lesbians with heavy flows. This dude is FUN.
The Self-Loathing American
DRONES! Nestle is force-feeding toxins to babies! Israel is a racist tumor that must be cut off! Coca-Cola is forcibly sterilizing African women! Walmart will enslave us all! Okay, so they’re probably right about that last part, but everything else this expat says makes a mockery of the liberal causes they try so hard to champion. They haven’t lived in the States for ten years but still believe they can speak authoritatively about how backwards and narrow-minded everyone who lives there is. They’ll never go back because they’ve reached the unshakable conclusion that living in Europe is morally superior. I actually don’t mind these people at all, because some of them are really knowledgeable. But it’s like, really? You’re NEVER going to go back? You don’t miss Hulu and Whole Foods even a LITTLE bit?
I don’t want to be mean. I would much rather live in a city with struggling artists than one with hella bankers. But, like, let’s be honest. You’re not making that much art. You’re mostly working at a cafe. When you’re not doing that, you’re partying and doing the odd graphic design project. I like you, as long as you don’t pretend you’re hot shit.
Steven Blum is a freelance writer and editor in Berlin. In the past, he’s written some things for The Stranger, Blackbook Magazine, Haaretz, Tablet Magazine, USAToday.com and the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Follow him on Twitter @StevenBlum.
Illustrations by Jason Gautier.
Ich find’ es supergeil! Thanks to Natalie for the heads-up Now I’m off to run a bath of milk and cereal and smoke a Wurst cigar.
Coming from England, I never envisioned not being able to buy everything you want under one roof.
A 24-hour Tesco around the corner can give you the false impression that fully stocked shelves are available 24/7 everywhere.
In Berlin I found out that sadly this is not true.
It was hard to find a chicken. Yes, a chicken! I had to buy three tiny chickens instead. So, we each had our own mini chicken, or Poussin, whatever you call them, on our plate. Novel – as a one off! But, how hard can it be to get a whole chicken?
Sometimes Berlin supermarkets will run out of eggs or milk. You know, just the essentials.
Don’t expect to be able to buy mincemeat on a Saturday evening.
Don’t expect there to buy both baked beans and rocket in the same supermarket.
Certainly don’t expect to buy beef.
Actually forget everything you already know about supermarkets. It no longer applies.
Prepare yourself for having to visit at least two supermarkets to get everything you need. Prepare yourself not to be able to pay on credit card. Prepare yourself not to be able to do your shopping on a Sunday.
Prepare for long queues. Prepare for just one checkout being open. Prepare yourself for unhelpful shop assistants who deliberately don’t move out of your way.
Forget 3-for-2s, 2-for-1s or any other offer. Forget shelf re-stockers. If we run out, we run out.
And forget fresh spinach.
I was cycling to work one summer morning and my bike wheel got caught in the tramlines by Alexanderplatz. I fell off my bike and cut my leg.
Blood started pouring down my leg. Not in a dramatic way, but enough for it to hurt. So I get up and brush the gravel off my leg, wipe the blood, and pick my bike up.
An old man starts walking towards me. I think he’s going to ask me if I’m ok or if I needed some help.
No. He comes over and starts speaking to me in German, and tells me that I should be wearing better shoes to cycle!
I am wearing a pair of Havianas (flip flops), which I wear most of the summer, and always cycle with. And I hadn’t fallen off my bike because my shoes were not suitable enough; I had blatantly fallen off because my bike wheel was caught in the tramline. He saw what happened.
I couldn’t believe it. My leg was bleeding, and this old man had come over just to rub my nose in it and to preach about my wrong behaviour. Typical German.
They seem to love to interfere or nosily point things out to you. Maybe they actually think they are being helpful. But most of the time I wish they just wouldn’t interfere.
Like the woman who stopped me on the bike to tell me my lights were not working. I stopped, pulled my earphones out to hear what she was saying, and then got my earphone cable caught in the bike wheel, so my bike ended up falling over.
Thanks! That was helpful. And I knew the bloody light wasn’t working anyway!
But the worst time was when one woman thought it was OK to tap me on the shoulder while I was cycling, just for joining the bike lane, because she didn’t see me. She tapped my shoulder! To tell me I was in the wrong.
How dare she touch me! I was outraged, but I held my tongue because I didn’t want to really lose my temper.
The rules are the rules are the rules are the rules.
Yes. If you are German, this is so.
Dot the “i”s and cross the “t”s, everything has to be just so.
You cannot deviate from the rules, or the unthinkable will happen. What the unthinkable is, I still don’t know.
I once went to the Berlin Festival at Tempelhof with a friend from London. She had just had clear braces fitted, and so could only drink clear drinks for a while.
She went to the bar, she wanted a vodka tonic. However, the menu said just gin and tonic, or vodka and lemonade.
She asked for a vodka and tonic. The bar woman said this was not possible. They just sold gin and tonic, vodka and lemonade. Both were 6€.
My friend said this was stupid, how could she not have a vodka and tonic. What was the difference, they were both the same price.
But the woman held strong. No. It was just gin and tonic, or vodka and lemonade. That was what was on the menu, that was what was available. So my friend got a gin and tonic, and came back to where I was sat.
“It’s no joke about the Germans being sticklers for the rules!” she said, and told me what had happened at the bar.
I laughed. “Welcome to Germany!”
I’ve been shhhhhsh’d on the bus.
I’ve been shhhhhhsh’d in a café.
I’ve been shhhhhhhsh’d in the office.
Ok, I admit it, I can be pretty loud, but I’ve even been shhhhhhhsh’d at a gig!
The Germans just love their quiet. Even at a concert they prefer it when everyone stands around silently appreciating the music, rather than dancing and having fun.
We were shhhhhhhhhsh’d at an electronic concert. I couldn’t believe it! It is not a library, it’s a place where people go to dance, party and let their hair down. How could someone really think it was ok to shhhhh us?
So we were deliberately loud after that. Petty, but childishly satisfying.
But for the rest of the gig I kind of wanted to shake people and shout at them, “Why aren’t you dancing?” dance goddamnit, this is Digitalism.
All words and images courtesy of Rachel Hutchinson. Read more of Rachel’s rants at 28rantslater.blogspot.de.
Running a tattoo studio must be a piece of piss! Because somehow, Valentin Plessy, the co-founder of the AKA gallery, tattoo, piercing and body-modification atelier, has enough free time on his hands to produce crisp, cheeky electro-pop under the alias aMinus. Plessy recently released his second solo album, Options, a hot mess of synth pop, eighties house, RNB and 8 bit sounds, through Berlin label Mad Dog & Love. Here’s our pick of the new tracks, lead single “Don’t Mind Me Now” featuring Magritte Jaco, which puts us in mind of Gallic romantics Mlle Caro and Franck Garcia and captures the quintessentially Berlin pastime of the rooftop barney-turned-orgy. Bittersweet and brilliant.
Our resident sexpert Lucy vs. the Globe is back, just in time for Valentine’s Day! And, fear not, because she’s got the app antidote to that empty blackness that’s corroding the part of your chest that used to house a heart. Happy V Day!
It’s Valentine’s Day, and, if you are anything like me, you are probably single (and loving it – don’t be so smug, relationship people). But this time of the year is always a weird one. If you have an ounce of doubt in your singledom, you might find yourself slightly depressed – don’t. The answer is simple: Get on Tinder.
I’ll admit it, Tinder is a wholly gross experience. However, in times of loneliness and self doubt it is one of the most magical applications that has ever graced my second swipe iPhone screen. Here are a few tips on how to get started on Tinder, and hopefully this Valentine’s day – you won’t be so lonely.
A QUICK GAME IS A GOOD GAME - Deliberating over Tinder is a waste of energy. It’s really not tricky, nor should it consume too much of your brain capacity – you right-swipe or you left-swipe. You don’t diagonal, you don’t half-swipe, you don’t save for later. It’s a yes or no thing. It’s pretty shallow – but that’s life on Tinder. Keep it moving.
TRAVEL AND TINDER – Don’t stick to your own area. BUH – that’s the worst. Soon enough the eligible dudes and femmes dry up and you are left with matches well outside of your predetermined parameters. Are you headed to Pretzel Berg? Picking something up from Charlottenburg off Kleinanzeigen? Fit in a swift swipe. Ideally, you wouldn’t have to travel to Tinder, but I think the “rules” you set for things like distance are all a bit… not-working. Facts are, you get better results when you make it out to new and exciting locations.
LIKE THINGS - The way in which you assess whether you do or don’t like someone is through your interests, mutual friends and distance (more or less). So if you haven’t liked pages on Facebook since 2007 – you should probably get in there and start throwing some thumbs. It’ll give you a better sense of the talent on offer, and maybe Facebook will become a more interesting place. Here, start with my page – it’s awesome.
REMEMBER: IT’S NOT FOREVER - This isn’t marriage, it’s Tinder. So at the very most you’re headed towards a night of loose living, and at the very least? A coffee at 2pm on a Tuesday. This is taking us right back to my first point – don’t overthink this. There is no commitment, there are no guarantees – so don’t get in it too deep. Maybe the really hot guy/ femme you right-swiped is a dope when it comes to the written word, but maybe that “hmm OK maybe I should have left-swiped based on looks” person is witty as fuck and you are all – I COULD DATE YOU. You would have missed something. #YOLO, #FOMO… all those abbreviations work here.
KEEP AN OPEN MIND - Not everyone is totally photogenic nor understands their angles, so try and stay relatively open-minded. I mean, have you seen a German person’s CV? That serious-vibed photo is bananas. I mean – firstly a photo on a CV is fucked – but secondly, could you at least smile? Look like life isn’t too much to bear. This cultural aspect of the place in which we all live really made me soften my standards when it comes to the ol’ Tinder photos.
SPONTANEITY IS KEY - Be spontaneous. Don’t sit there asking stupid questions via a messaging function. Go out for drinks – immediately. The whole “So – where are you from? Australia cool, me too. How long have you lived here? Oh wow. Four years, that’s ages” YAWN – I am so bored typing that right now, and it’s not even a real conversation. Winter is depressing enough, without having to participate in these dreary back and forth TYPED conversations with someone you really don’t know. TAKE IT IRL.
Or if you’re on Spotify, you can listen to our playlist minus the shit-talking, plus a few surprise bonus tracks – just click here! And tune into Berlin Community Radio every Monday at 6pm (Berlin time), for nostalgic indie, shoegaze, post punk, post hardcore and other sad dad music. Check out Post Flashback on Facebook for more deets.
We’re very excited to introduce HYENAZ, the other-wordly, gender-straddling new project from TUSK:
The beats and basslines lift from early house, EBM and R&B; the vocals from soul, blues and prog-rock; the lyrics are punk poetry, cutups — the calls of a cybernetic siren. Synthesizers are built from discarded scraps of metal and 90s nostalgia. Their performance, their visual art and their texts cull from the discarded fabrics of their surroundings, felt and reinterpreted through their bodies. HYENAZ are one, defiled and immaculate, their androgynous flesh quivering on the thin edge between the digital and the divine.
For a glimpse at the HYENAZ universe, watch the video for “Cypher”, in which a transgendered Pierrot morphs into a humanoid hyena. It’s a weird, and oddly placid, clip, for the least singley-single imaginable, but as an introduction to the cosmic, androgynous duo, it’s sheer perfection:
And if you want to hear the intergalactic boy-things channeling the spirit of Anne Clark, listen to Hyenaz’ first single “Sister”/”Reading”: