Name, age, occupation, city of origin:
Andrew Stark, 24, Talent Agency Assistant & Customer Service Operative, Glasgow.
Where are you working and what do you do?
Currently I’m working for an online food delivery platform. This basically involves taking calls from hungry people wondering where their food is; not always the most glamorous of work but my colleagues are really nice people, it’s probably where I’ve made most of my friends here.
I’ve also recently started at a talent management agency on top of my other job. This has been really interesting as I’ve been involved in casting calls and organising new and old clients.
Otherwise I mainly work on music. I play in a band, Last Days of Elvis and have also written the scores for some theater whilst over here.
What was it that drew you to Berlin?
I had some friends from university that moved here a year before I did. When one of them came back over for a visit six months later all he could talk about was how great the place was. Before then I knew I wanted to move somewhere outside of the UK, but it just made sense to come to Berlin since I already had a strong friend base here. I’d also put some research into the job market over here, and it just seemed like there was some interesting companies based here such as Ableton and Native Instruments which was really appealing.
How has being in Berlin influenced your career?
When I was living in Glasgow I had been working in a recording studio for around 4 years and, to be honest, nothing has really topped that job yet. I left because I wanted to explore the world a bit but I was also aware that I’d be hard pressed to find something as suitable for me as working there was. However, working at the talent agency is certainly a step in the right direction and, as I said, there are a lot of opportunities here to do interesting things.
How would you compare Berlin to Glasgow?
Before moving to Berlin I had lived in Glasgow all my life. Despite really feeling the need to leave I’ve got a lot of love for the place and this is especially true now that I’ve left. There’s a sense of humour there that I’m just not sure exists anywhere else. However, I’m really enjoying the feeling of living in a massive city and can’t imagine moving back anytime soon.
What was it you found challenging about settling in, if anything?
The biggest issue here can be finding a place to live. The rental market is really competitive and you have to be prepared to check rental sites everyday and to send countless messages just to find a room. When you go to see the property it also can feel more like a job interview than a flat viewing as the tenants have so many people coming to see the place, group viewings are especially strange. Some people are lucky and find a room quickly (often at the cost of paying quite a lot more than what they should), but to find my first flat I think I sent out over 150 messages, got 10 replies and only one offer.
Registering as a citizen can also be a bit of a headache, although some people seem to have more trouble than others. For me it only took a couple of hours and I didn’t even have an appointment, but some friends have spent a long time there and told at the end of it all that they didn’t have the correct paperwork. I was also told this when I first went in, but I looked sad and helpless enough until they took pity on me and stamped my form.
As much as there are interesting opportunities for work here, it is very competitive just like anywhere else.
And how did you overcome these challenges?
Well I found my second flat a lot easier. I went to go see the place after only sending out maybe 10 or 20 messages and, when I got there, it turned out that I’d already met one of the guys that lived there at a party. In general it seems that people seem to get better deals on their rooms when they find out about them through friends or friends of friends.
As far as registering goes, it was definitely useful have some friends here that had gone through the whole process to give me some tips. Of course, this is probably true for any new country.
What do you love about Berlin?
There are so many things that I love about this place. I didn’t expect to feel as comfortable here as I am, especially not so quickly, but I really warmed to it very fast. There’s a certain lawless which I find really appealing, like anything could happen. There’s also a real fluidity to socialising and the nightlife, especially during Summer when you can be outside all day having a beer in the park or outside a späti. I think there’s also a much better attitude towards drinking here. Don’t get me wrong, people definitely like a drink, but because there’s no strict licensing laws and places tend to stay open all night people aren’t forced to squeeze all their drinking in before 3am. It makes for a much more relaxed atmosphere where you can take your time and enjoy yourself. When I go home now I find it really strange and unappealing to see high-streets full of drunk people yelling and fighting, it just doesn’t really happen in the same way here.
I also find that people here are always really interested in collaborating on artistic projects and I’ve found that I’ve been really active in that sense.
What advice would you give to other freshly arrived expats?
If you can, I’d really suggest enrolling in a crash course to learn German as soon as possible. I’ve been here a year now and my German skills are still pretty poor. The problem is that you can find yourself getting by quite easily without learning the language properly as, in general, Germans speak very good English and there’s a lot of expats here. However, if you’re planning on living here for any length of time, I think not speaking German will really stand in the way of you feeling at home. It also just seems pretty ignorant not to learn the language of the country you live in. Now that I know I’m going to be here for longer I’m really going to make a proper effort.
Interested in Berlin? First tips about working and living: