What I've learnt after a week in Berlin
By Lizzie Wood
You may have heard, but nearly a year ago we opened up shop in Berlin – the latest stop on our way to world domination. You may also know that we love an office exchange, and on Monday, I jetted off to join Fourth Day Germany for a month. I’m here to work on some exciting projects, spend some time in our new office at Mindspace, get out and about to lots of events and generally integrate myself into the Berlin comms scene!
Five days in and safe to say that I love it here, and am finding the whole process really interesting! Plus, the beer’s not bad either. Here are my main take-aways so far:
Did my accent give me away?
In a word, no. No one wants to be a tourist when they travel and, while I came prepared with a few choice phrases (I like to at least try), my German is non-existent. I was prepared that a lot of people here speak English but I didn’t realise just how present it is.
Sat opposite two locals while at dinner with a friend, I realised they were both speaking in English to each other. My friend explained that guy A was German and guy B was Polish and, while they both spoke perfect German, this was their common language. Similarly, I’ve overheard conversations in the office where people will fluently slip between the two; it really is second nature here.
Co-working is kind of a big deal
I often comment about how we’ll look back on 2017 and its neighbour years as ones of exposed brick, wood panelling and rose gold copper. (An aesthetic I secretly love). But I kind of get the feeling Berlin got here first. A bar that only has wooden crates as seating might sound naff but, here, it feels kind of authentic. And this is an aesthetic which is present in a lot of the gorgeous co-working spaces I’ve hung out in this week. Our own Mindspace has some great corners for concentration, as well as airy break-out spaces where everyone seems to come together at lunchtime – a proper lunch, sat with friends and colleagues, away from their desks. There are heaps of places like this, and I must also give a shout-out to Betahaus who hosted a delicious networking breakfast at their place on Thursday (a regular event I’m told).
I feel like I’m in Manchester, no, New York, no, Paris…
Berlin is super easy to get around, with a similar criss-cross layout to planned cities like New York, as opposed to the higgledy piggledy streets of London. I love the tall buildings and wide streets which feel a bit like the boulevards of Paris. And then the little coffee shops reminded me of our home in Manchester’s Northern Quarter. Perhaps there’s a little bit of all of our offices in Berlin?
And one final tiny point – I spent the first three days wondering why I kept seeing so many people picking up beer bottles that had been left on the street?! Someone then explained that if you take them to your local supermarket, you get paid a minimal amount for them (something like 8 cents.) Mystery solved!
In the same vein as my New York post last year, I’m including my Berlin playlist. (Not all Berlin bands per se, but great tunes for wandering around the city).
Lizzie is an Associate Director in the Manchester team