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Having Chitchat With Some New Berliners

According to the Berlin-Brandenburg National Office of Statistics, more than 450 000 foreign residents, coming from 190 different countries, currently live in Berlin. As a new Berliner, you have the possibility on our streets to get to know 190 different cultures. 450 000 foreign residents means 450 000 different histories.

But statistics and quotas for foreigners do not give a complete description of re-settling in another country. Starting over in a foreign land also involves untold cultural histories, financial problems, language difficulties, and numerous other unforeseen circumstances.

Because people are more than just statistics, presented here are some small histories of "new" Berliners.


In his homeland of Cuba, Mikael was a well-known comic artist, and while he never suffered from a lack of work, he was not fully satisfied. Now his day job is collecting empty bottles in a restaurant in Weißensee, while constantly perfecting his portfolio and knocking on doors to find job opportunities.  Mikael is currently targetting the videogame industry for a specific reason: he believes it has the potential to provide a steady position for designers, and so he must become familiar with this area.

He considers his time in Berlin to be a mostly positive experience with both the people and the city, although he has lived through some bitter situations: "In my everyday life I experience a subtle level of racism, these many small experiences can add up to a larger burden, which can be depressing."


Sara taught saxophone for three years in Finland and has already produced an album as a songwriter. In her opinion it is not easy to earn a living as a musician in Finland. So she came to Berlin a month ago, despite not knowing anyone here, while she has no solid future projects. Sara sold all the possessions from her flat in Finland, in order to commit to the move to Berlin. Since she has found a flat reasonably quickly here, she's committed to achieving her goals, although she hadn't found it easy.


Elisa came to Berlin two years ago with her boyfriend, because they both found her hometown Napoli dangerous and held few employment opportunities to offer youth. Despite her training as a nurse she cannot find work in this field, here in Berlin. She sometimes feels that the time invested in her studies was wasted. After separating from her boyfriend, Elisa has had an unpleasant experience: she was betrayed by an alleged "landlord" and lost €1200.  This time is the second new start in a foreign country for Elisa. At present, she works as a nanny of five children for a family in Charlottenburg.


The new beginning here was exciting for Gökhan, although he had no fear before he moved.  He was a professional trainer in Turkey and having travelled here often, was already familiar with the German society. "I feel free here, although life is limited by many strict social norms and laws."

His goal is to graduate successfully and live here with his wife and daughter. For that reason he currently works as an assistant in a supermarket. Gökhan isn't concerned with what sort of job or status he has, because in his opinion to enjoy a high standard of living in Germany, you need only valid documentation.

By Melina Castillo

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