“I came to Germany for work – after I graduated, it was very difficult to find a job in Belgium. But I had a Master’s degree and two internships under my belt, so I thought it was unfair to work again as an unpaid intern. The compromise with myself was only to do that if I could gain more than just added work experience in my own field of expertise. Berlin was a good option: Here I could improve my German and English, get a scholarship and ‘work’ in my field.
I really like it here, but I don’t think I’ll stay forever. Life is at the same time beautiful and hard here - everything is relatively cheap, but also wages are very low. There are many people, especially in the cultural sector, who think it normal to work for free, and many people who take advantage of that. Also I don’t think that, as a non-native speaker of German, I’ll be able to have a proper career here.
What I always found really attractive here is the freedom. Everyone can be who they want. But sometimes I feel German culture is too individualistic. I have learned from that a little bit to put myself first more often, and that was an important lesson, but sometimes I still find it hard to live like that. It is sad that consideration and friendliness are so rare. At the end of the day, I believe that my ideas of living in a community are just very different.
I am and will always be Belgian. That is my story and my background. But on another, very personal level, it was important for me to be away from home for a while. Berlin was and still is the perfect place for me, to cut my own path. For that I’m very grateful.”
This is a story by Christine Strotmann