“They are very demanding with the language, which for expats is the largest obstacle” “The best thing about Berlin is all the culture available: opera houses, a Philharmonic orchestra, and 150 museums”
Why did you leave Catalonia?
My main reason for leaving Catalonia was the challenge posed by the language. With my diplomatic studies finished, I didn’t feel like an expert in the German language; I needed to know it better and at first-hand from Germans.
Why did you choose Berlin?
After spending some time in different German towns that were not particularly large, I chose Berlin because it was a city that offered good opportunities and mainly because my partner was doing the final years of their degree in the capital.
How long have you lived there?
I’ve been in Berlin since 2006, and with the time I spent in other cities, it comes to a total of 15 years in Germany.
Are you happy with the job opportunities you found in your adoptive country?
Germany is not an easy country to live in. They are very demanding with qualifications and the language, which for expats is the largest obstacle. Berlin is a city that is very open to new projects and ideas, and there are currently a lot of start-ups there with a lot of firms making a name for themselves. But it’s not easy to find work that fits your needs in the capital. It’s strange, because it’s a city with a lot of young people living there, but at the moment there’s a real lack of personnel in a lot of sectors.
What do you think is the best thing about living there?
For me, the most prestigious thing about Berlin is all the culture available to residents: three state opera houses, a Philharmonic orchestra, as well as over 150 museums. It’s a luxury to be surrounded by all that.
What would you most like to change?
Without doubt I’d change what the Germans understand by the word “service”. We think very differently.
What do you miss most from home?
The good weather, without a doubt.
What do you take with you as a present from your new home when you go back to your own country?
An empty suitcase, because my mother fills it with llonganissa sausage and cheeses.
What characterises your neighbourhood?
I live in Schöneberg, which is known as the gay district, and a neighbourhood with lots of nooks, in West Berlin. It’s quiet and family-friendly.
Are there any places to avoid at all costs?
Alexanderplatz and Checkpoint Charlie have become tourist traps and areas not particularly well-known for their architecture, but they can’t be avoided. They are areas with lots of history and make you reflect on everything that happened there in a relatively short time.
What is the best experience you’ve had in your adoptive country?
Having a family.
Do you plan to go back to Catalonia?
A few years ago I was sure I wanted to die here, but now I’m not so sure. There are times when you miss your family and friends a lot, but we are not too far away, which means we can go to Catalonia frequently.
CATALANS ABROAD Berlin (Germany)
Where are the best places for visitors to stay?
Visitors tend to stay in the Mitte neighbourhood. If I was staying there, without a doubt I’d choose the Gendarmenmarkt square. The Kurfürstendamm avenue has been refurbished in the past few years, and is now a good alternative.
Can you recommend a place to have lunch with friends?
If you like Asian food, do not hesitate to try DUDU.
What do you consider the highlights for any brief visit for the first time?
The Berlin Wall and the Brandenburg Gate are must-see sites. The city’s historic centre has a lot to offer, and for me it’s just about obligatory to go on a tour in order to find your bearings and be able to plan out the rest of the visit. Berlin has real history beneath its paving stones that you could miss if someone does not explain it to you.
And if visitors have more time or make a return visit?
Berlin is inexhaustible. For a second visit take a stroll through Treptower Park, visit the Stasi secret police prison, or take a canoe along the Spree, one of the rivers running through the city.
Where would you have a special dinner for two?
More Asian food, The Match.
When is the best time of year to plan a visit?
May, June or October.
What is the best kept secret about the area?
There are no secrets in Berlin...