ENGLISH: After my introduction to the November theme on the blog, Boss Girls Around the World, here is the first blog post with a boss girl. Meet Ira who is from Ukraine but has lived in different continents and different cities and is now living in Berlin.
I met Ira in Berlin for more than two years ago. She is a talented photographer and we met to take photos for the blog. One coffee and a few shots later, we were friends. And you’ve seen lots of her photography on my blog! Just like in this post and this post.
Find Ira on Instagram here and check out her website. And below you’ll find the answers to the questions I asked her about why she moved to a different country, as well as the challenges and the best things that come with it.
Name: Ira Age: 25 Home country: Ukraine
Cities and countries lived in: Rivne in Ukraine, Lithuania, US, Berlin in Germany, Gibraltar,
What was the reason for moving, first of all?
It all started one afternoon, when my dad picked me up from school. He asked me if I wanted to study abroad or if I wanted a car for my 16th birthday. Obviously, I picked a university abroad I left my hometown when I was 16 and haven’t been back longer than for two weeks at a time since.
What do you miss the most about home, Ukraine?
To be honest, I barely remember what its like to live there, it’s been almost 10 years since I left. I’ve got some friends who still live there, but it’s difficult to stay in touch since our lives and priorities are so different. I miss having a group of friends who’ve know each other since we all were kids!
What do you not miss from home?
Haha, so much! I don’t miss how rude people are – if someone steps on your foot in a bus chances are, they’re not even going to apologize!
What has been the most different and the most challenging in living in another country?
Both Lithuania and US were pretty easy to navigate, as my uni paved the way and took care of all the bureaucracy for me. The challenges came when I moved to Berlin and had to find myself my first apartment, job, friends, etc, but also I had to manage doing all that without really speaking the language! I think the most challenging thing till now was having to deal with German bureaucracy. If you grew up somewhere else, you never know what the correct protocol for getting things done is. Like, who knew Germans need everything to be sent per post and that email doesn’t cut it?
What is the best thing about living in Berlin?
I love how no matter what you want to do in Berlin, there’s a million options each night, you only have to know where to look! Also, Berlin is pretty well connected (despite the airports being a nightmare) so it’s super easy to travel from here.
How often do you go back home to Ukraine?
I haven’t been to Ukraine in 2 years, I think. It’s been a while, and I’m not sure when I’ll be able to go again.
What do you like the most about living abroad?
I got to start from scratch and build my life exactly as I want it, not being dependant on my family’s connections. There’s a lot of freedom when it comes to making life decisions if you can only rely on yourself.
Do you try to culturally adapt to your new home, Berlin?
Not really, I probably know around 10 Germans in Berlin, and I work with three of them I’m not a big fan of German culture and mentality, and Berlin is so international that there’s really no need to adapt.
Do you speak the language spoken in the country you live in (German)?
Yes, although it’s still far from perfect.
Do you find it difficult to ‘blend’ in with the locals and the culture of the country, you live in? Do you feel like you live a ‘parallel expat life’?
In Berlin, it sometimes feels like it’s the Germans who are having a hard time blending into the “expat life” I truly think Berlin is the best of both words – as there’re not that much division between locals and expats.
Will you ever move back home or are you looking to move to another country or city?
I’m definitely not going back to Ukraine. And as much as I love Berlin, I’m not planning to stay here forever either. I’ve timeboxed my time in Berlin to two years when I just moved here, but it’s already been three and I’m still happy here, as long as I get to run off and travel from time to time. Maybe another year in Berlin, and then I’ll be off to London or Madrid
What is your best ‘expat’ advice?
Move around the city before you decide which area to settle in. I lived all over Berlin before picking a favorite neighborhood to move to, and it really helped me to pick “the one”!