Stories


Fear and Loathing in Hipsterville
Nadja Sayej
2010-09-01

Currywurst what? Berlin is home to thousands of hipsters and access to the Youth Mobility Agreement Visa makes the most stylish city in Europe sexier. But when the sun comes up, then what?

19.-chlorophormtv.wordpress.com.jpgIt was a Thursday night in Kreuzberg, and I was dancing around the Grimmuseum in a tinfoil dress with two teenagers. We were videotaping an episode for ArtStars* and Chlorophorm TV in both German and English.

ArtStars* and Chlorophorm TV cover Francesca Gavin's Syncopation show at the Grimmuseum

Dancing is typical, especially in Berlin. The Watergate club is all the hype and the electronic Berghain club doesn't close on weekends. Berlin is home to Canadian talents like electroclash superstar Peaches and filmmaker Bruce La Bruce. It's no breaking news that Berlin is seen as party central. In fact, it might as well be called Hipsterville – everywhere you turn in the stylish neighbourhood of Mitte, and the up-and-coming Neukolln, looks like they've dropped out of the pages of VOGUE or Dazed & Confused. But how do you get to Berlin for more than just a weekend?

My name is Nadja and I'm the host of ArtStars*, a vlog about the art world. I'm here to show you how to get here with the Youth Mobility Agreement Visa. Email me, check out my website, follow me on Twitter, watch me on Tumblr, subscribe on You Tube and fan me on Facebook to stay in the loop of my up-and-comings while I'm here to live, work and have fun for the year in Germany. I came here for the art scene.

A few tips from ArtStars*:

1. Plan ahead

The Youth Mobility Agreement Visa is a way for Canadians and Germans under 35 to work and live abroad for a year. So the months gearing up to your trip should be spent in research, and not just the boring stuff (maps, dictionaries, tourist guides), but the blogosphere. A few great German blogs include I Heart Berlin, Glam Canyon and ExBerliner, all in English, will keep you in the loop.

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2. Book Your Flight Early

Get your plane ticket in advance through cheap air service providers like Air Transat, but be prepared to pack light (50 lbs. max). You may want to also fly into other German cities like Hamburg to cut the cost of your flight in half, but be prepared to take the BAHN train into Berlin. And be sure to bring or buy an international travel plug so your electronics will work abroad.

3. Connect with other Canadians

From ex-pats to students, there's a wealth of contacts in your own personal network willing to help you with your journey to Berlin. Follow through with that friend of your dad's who worked in Munich, or that high school friend who studied in Leipzig. Take them out to lunch. Set up meetings in advance with these personal experts, send emails with questions and ask for connectors, that is, anyone knows someone who can help in your industry (for example, I work in the art world so was asking to connect with arts editors, curators and artists in Berlin).

4. Score an Awesome Pad11.-katrin-hanusch.de.jpg

Start looking for apartments now. The hot neighbourhoods for apartments right now are Wedding, Kreuzberg and Neukölln. The yesterday-was-trendy Mitte and Prenzlauerberg are great for the more established, but not for the age group coming on the YM

A-Visa (that said, if you can find an inexpensive place in these areas – amazing!). While Canadians are used to the "first and last" policy of rent payment, in Germany, there is the three-month "kaution." Be prepared to pay three months rent up front for any new place you get! This is regular procedure. A few great sites are the WG-Gesucht, Student Housing, short-term stay, furnished flats even artist residencies if that's up your alley.

5. Job Hunt

But how easy is it to get a job as a native English speaker?

It's more than just job sites. Ask me questions on Twitter @ArtStars, and stay tuned next month, where we'll talk with Canadians on how to get jobs in Berlin. Stay tuned for the new ArtStars* Podcasts, a Survival Guide to Berlin, and until next time, here's a little German lesson from a Canadian abroad – watch me get lost in Berlin with a bad German accent and cheap beer for the ArtStars* coverage of Preview Berlin right here:

ArtStars* 48 – Preview Berlin

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As we say in German: "Willkommen in Deutschland!"

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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NADJA SAYEJ, host of ArtStars*, writes about art for artUS, Border Crossings, C magazine, Canadian Art, the Globe and Mail, the New York Times and was splashed the cover of Eye Weekly as “the next Jeanne Beker.” She was called “Center Stage in Toronto in an Art in America cover story. She is a columnist for enRoute and is busting her ass in Berlin, Germany, and surrounding countries. Follow the adventurous fun on Twitter or her ever-popular Facebook fanpage or even on LinkedIn, as well.
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My experience in Germany has been invaluable. In addition to learning German and taking part in another culture, I have learned so much about myself. I am confident that I can thrive away from the comforts of home and that I am dynamic and flexible. This is exactly what today’s employers are looking for – giving me a competitive advantage in the working world.
Kate from British Columbia – working for an international not-for-profit organisation.