The Berlin Expat portraits series aims at putting in word the realities of being a foreigner here. Sometimes, a biased opinion is needed to get a clearer picture of what Berlin is like.

Fourth post of our series “Berlin Expat Portraits”, we meet an Argentinian person after their Italian roots.

Introduce yourself in a few words

My name is Ivan, I come from the Patagonia Argentina and I’m 29 years old. 
I enjoy photography very much but I don’t practice it on a professional level as I feel I like it best as just a hobbie. I shoot almost exclusively film both 35mm and medium format.
I’m in general terms a very social person and quite easy going although I’ve been told that people’s first impressions of me is that I’m very serious.. I guess it’s just my “concentrated face”.

Why did you move to Berlin and why you stayed?

I originally came to Berlin with a working holiday visa with the intention of staying for a year and if possible some more time. Well, it was possible to stay, so I did. 
After a lot of effort regarding “extensions”, visa applications, etc. I managed to buy enough time until my Italian citizenship papers came through.

I should explain that a lot of people in Argentina are of Italian descent and therefore entitled to potentially obtaining the citizenship by blood heritage. It involves a tremendous amount of paperwork and time to apply, and only then you’ll see if you get it or not. It took my family and me about 4 years to finish the whole process.

When did that happen?

I arrived in May 2017, having planned my trip for about a year prior to that. 

What did you expect in particular when moving here?

I purposely tried not to have high expectations, just realistic ones. Basically what I hoped for was to be able to find a job and accommodation, and to be able to sustain myself for the year on my own.

Were those expectations fulfilled? Did you regret your decision?

My expectations were not only fulfilled but tremendously surpassed!
Obviously I don’t not regret my decision and in fact I see it as a pivoting point in my life’s story.

Sum up your life in Berlin with one animated gif:


Would you have done some things differently to settle here?

In retrospect, yes of course minor things that would have made things easier. In general terms though, no. I believe given the circumstances I did pretty well for myself.

What sort of advice would you give to someone who would like to move here?

Assuming you don’t already speak German, start taking lessons as soon as you can. You can obviously get by with English pretty much the whole time but your overall experience will change a lot if you know a bit of German. And more importantly German speakers will appreciate this and probably be more willing to open up to you… And then of course, there´s the fact that its just polite, if your intentions are to stay and live in the German capital not knowing how to speak German is almost rude after a certain point. – Believe me I’m guilty of that –

Lastly, consider where you´re coming from and consider where you´d be moving into.. Berlin is after all a capital city with a fast paced rhythm and a constant flow of people. This can be a bit overwhelming for those you come from smaller or more isolated places. Be humble, keep an open mind and stand for yourself. Don’t take any bullshit from anyone, particularly from yourself.

Don’t take any bullshit from anyone, particularly from yourself. 

What is your favorite thing about Berlin?

Maybe this is just my impression, or an idea in my head.. but somehow I feel that there’s a sense of freedom in the air. Something I rarely perceive in other places. My honeymoon phase with the city is over and I still sense that regardless.

What do you dislike the most?

People who litter or who are inconsiderate/rude to others for no reason. 

How long would you like your love story with Berlin to be?

For the moment, indefinite.. I’ll see how things go and act accordingly.

Best bar? Best brunch? Best club? Best neighborhood or anything else unique to recommend?

Very hard to choose among the never-ending list of bars I have saved on my map.. I’ll go with the one I frequent the most for chilling alone or a small group of friends. – Mano cafe – in Kreuzberg.

  • Brunch? Not much of an expert on that. I recently had an amazing one in – Aprilkind – in Friedrichshain.
  • Club? Again many to choose from, I’d say – Kater Blau – for it’s awesome corridor full of seats and interesting people/conversations.
  • Lastly, neighborhood. I’ve always been a fan of the Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg area. Most of the places I frequent are there and so are many of my friends. But I understand that it really depends on the kind of lifestyle you lead, so to each his own…

You can follow Ivan on Tumblr this way.

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