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Going abroad

When I started working at nestpick, I had an interview about moving to a new city in a new country. My experiences were worth writing them down, so I ended up in the online magazine

Erwin, 25, is from Eindhoven in the Netherlands. He moved to Berlin in 2015 with his rainbow coloured bike and a hearty assortment of psychedelically patterned jumpers. He’s a Customer Experience (Dutch) representative at nestpick
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So, where are you from originally and where do you live now?

I’m from Eindhoven. It’s a city that people consider the biggest village of the Netherlands, but also one of the most up-and-coming European metropolises. Eindhoven basically has everything, it’s just really compact. It’s nickname is ‘the light town’, because Philips started making lightbulbs there. Also, PSV reached the knockout phase of the Champions League, which is definitely going to put Eindhoven on the map. But right now I live in Berlin.

What’s the biggest difference between your hometown and Berlin?

It’s hard to say, since there aren’t many differences. Eindhoven also has history and historical areas, multiple shopping malls, a huge variety of summer and winter activities, hip cafes and gentrified neighbourhoods. I think a big difference is that Eindhoven doesn’t have many guided tours or tourists asking for directions to places they can’t pronounce. Or maybe Eindhoven’s place names are just easier to pronounce, which makes them easier to find.

What did you expect before you left?

I had no clue how it would feel to live in a city where a well prepared tourist knows more about the place than I do.

Did you always think you’d live in Berlin? If so, why? If not, how did you end up here?

I grew up in a molecule-sized village called Reusel, next to the Belgian border. But with me being 1.90 metre tall, Reusel was too small for me. Luckily, Eindhoven enlightened me and I finished my studies. Right now I’m on a mission to find an actual mission.

Describe your first few days in Berlin…

During my first week I was cycling to work on my neon-coloured bike and jumped a red light and I got stopped by the police. Their first question: was I a British tourist. Technically, I wasn’t, but everything about me was more tourist than the average British tourist, minus my accent. As my German was quite limited and the police were frustrated with not being able to inform me about my rights and the procedure, I got lucky with a €10 fine, but they could’ve taken my driver’s license. I guess that’s what ‘Auslanderglück’ means.

eindjeWhat were the biggest challenges you faced when you arrived and how did you overcome them?

I was afraid I would be a nobody. An anonymous guy. Some loner no one would care about. The guy who sits alone at a deserted bar, who isn’t even able to have some simulated intelligent complaining conversation with the bartender. I figured it’s not that hard to avoid. I’m photobombing selfies like crazy each time I cycle through the Brandenburg Gate. Eventually I will get recognized, I hope.

Tell us something unique to Berlin that you now can’t live without. Alternatively: If you left Berlin, what would you miss the most?

I always thought it was fun when someone photobombed me and my travelling selfies. But photobombing them is even more exciting; I would totally miss that. Imagine the possibilities when Google and Facebook release facial recognition…

Your experience in Berlin is being turned into a movie. What is it called, and what actor or actress plays you in it?

Obviously Morgan Freeman would be my manager, with Samuel L. Jackson as an assistant in the local supermarket and Michael Cera would play me. Instant Classic. Title would be some funny combination of ‘Erwin’ and ‘Berlin’.

If you could move to anywhere in the world right now, where would you go?

So far, I’ve come to the conclusion that people are always a little bit different, but you always find the same types of people wherever you go. So, instead I’d rather go to a place where I would be the only person. Around monkeys, preferably. Just to have this synthetic feeling of interaction and being the superior one.

 

If you had to choose between an awesome flat in an ok neighbourhood or an ok flat in an awesome neighbourhood, which would you pick, and why?

My flat will probably be smaller than the neighbourhood, so it’s easier to turn an ok flat into an awesome flat. Especially when the neighbourhood is awesome already, because it means that there will be more cool shops with inspirational items.

tv_tIf you had to move to Berlin all over again, what advice would you give yourself?

Throw a bigger goodbye party and make sure that your friends already have plans to come and visit, otherwise it’ll probably take way too long for them and you might never see them again. In the meantime, they can’t stop reporting how wasted they are on Whatsapp and you’re just at home watching Netflix. You reassure yourself that you’re a grown man with a serious job right now, but it’s only a plaster on a knife wound.

What has been the best thing about moving abroad?

At least my parents don’t expect me to show up for dinner once or twice a week.

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