It’s time to introduce our very own Berlinogirl Daria Suomi. She is an amazing writer, social media and video editor extraordinaire who is originally from Moscow. This Russian expat talked with us about her nostalgia for her hometown and how she has fallen in love with her new city of Berlin. She came to Berlin by chance (or luck!) and is now committed to helping other newcomers as they settle into the city.
Where were you born? Where did you grow up?
I was born and raised in Moscow, but after I graduated from high school, I moved to Finland to study music and media management. When I was 17, I wanted to organize music festivals, but within in a few years, my goals completely changed. After growing up in the busy city of Moscow, living abroad in a city of only 70,000 people was a challenge, but ultimately proved to be an enlightening experience for me. After a stint in Finland, I decided to move to a tiny town in the Netherland to study TV and film production. My personal growth has continued through this journey and is ongoing as I live in Berlin now.
What is the strongest memory you have of your hometown?
Near the house where I grew up in Moscow, there was a little park where my grandmother and I used to walk after music school. There she taught me a couple of songs that I still sing sometimes when I am in a nostalgic, sad, or serene mood. It was in that same park where she taught me how to ride a bike when I was a child.
What did you do in your hometown?
When I was at university, I went to Moscow to relive my summertime sadness. Hanging out with friends, going on adventures in Saint-Petersburg, and exploring rooftops, cheap bars, museums, house parties — these are all things I loved to do with my friends those summers. I try my best to keep in touch with those friends from my hometown and now I see them more often in Berlin than in Moscow.
When did you arrive in Germany and what city did you land in?
Pure luck or pure chance brought me to Berlin. I got an internship with a small film company and then out of the blue, they decided to merge with their Berlin office and took me with them. So, I landed at Tegel with a suitcase, 100 euros, and my rent for the first month. The first thing I did was buy a bike and pedal around, discovering Berlin street by street. Learning German with friends and strangers, entering the film industry, smashing my knees through falling off the bike, searching for rooms, jobs — after five years, I can say I’m “semi-settled.”
What is your profession? Why?
For the past year, I have worked as a social media and video editor and in my spare time, I try to keep up with my writing. A friend of mine suggested that I turn my Facebook notes about Berlin into a Telegram-channel, which is a hip thing now among the Russians. I have been publishing my notes there and I love to write stories of things that have happened to me or to my friends, as well as some thoughts about Berlin. I sometimes misplace commas or spell things incorrectly, but mostly because I’m in a hurry to share my stories.
What is typical about Berlin? What do you love (or hate) about Berlin?
I raise these questions every time I write on my blog. Berlin is a hedonistic city, which can spoil you sometimes. It’s like a giant playground where everyone can do something (or anything) without a lot of effort. Expats – or locals as we also call them – are full of a sense of freedom, although many of them can’t quite define it. I love that in Berlin nobody cares about what you wear, how much you earn, or what you do for work. I find some elements of Berlin harder to bear, like the gloomy winter, poor mobile service, and that everyone is ‘halb-verabredet’ (flakey).
What is your contribution to make Berlin a little bit more beautiful?
When I first arrived in Berlin, I literally only knew two people outside of work, so I had to figure a lot of things out by myself. Now that I have figured out how things work, I try to share this knowledge. There are so many things to learn when you first get to Berlin – residence permits, bureaucracy, where to buy a bike, how to search for an apartment, and which are the best ice-cream shops and Thai food cafes.
What is your favorite place in Berlin?
Shortly after I arrived in Berlin, I became a Neuköllnerin (a resident of the Neukölln neighborhood) and I am delighted to remain one. I live in the area that is the former Rixdorf village and I love everything about it. I like the ice-cream shop next door, the cozy corner park, and Bohemian Square, among other things. The square was a deserted place when I first moved to Richardkiez, but now it’s one of the main attractions and is surrounded by a number of restaurants, making it a gastronomic paradise.
Read more stories from Daria Suomi on Berlinograd and make sure to subscribe to her Telegram-Channel “Berlin Blues”.
Text by Hannah M. Morgan
Photography by Beatrice Grundheber