Written by Sophie
Art by Coco
What’s up world, I’m a Brit in Berlin. The last three years of my life have been so painfully zeitgeisty in terms of personal decisions prompted by politics that sometimes I think The Truman Show might be real and I might be living it. Probably not, though. Who watches reality TV shows anymore? Probably I’m just a funny/sad shruggy GIF that you half-chuckle at before scrolling on to something else.
After quitting my job in London and finding out that a change to unemployment law that Cameron passed meant the government would only cover half of my rent, I applied for internships in Berlin. I’d heard internships actually paid there and life sounded vaguely affordable. Now, after three years of putting heart, soul & finances into integration, it’s game over. Cameron was so desperate to recoup England’s most charismatic and vivacious natural resource (clue: me. you guys, it’s me) that he held a referendum. Seriously dude, just buy me dinner or something.
Obviously nobody knows what the end game is going to be with regards to EU nationals living in the UK and vice versa, but if things progress the way they’ve been going so far, the future doesn’t look bright. So here are the post Brexit plans I’ve devised so far on a scale of least > most desperate.
Apply for an artist’s visa
This is actually more desperate than it sounds since I’m currently in the process of applying for artists’ social insurance and it’s taking up MY WHOLE LIFE. Photocopies of personal ID? Sure. Photocopies of every academic achievement of my past 28 years of existence? Cool, why not. Every invoice ever, translated into German? Down to clown. Proof of payment. No, not that, we don’t like that. More proof. Different proof. Everything via post. Have you had a nervous breakdown yet? Have you? If not, you’re not trying hard enough to get on the KSK, or as I’ve wittily renamed it, the Kafkasozialkasse, because the admin is The Trial level crazy.
Apply for a legit, non freelance job
Ugh no. I’ve been freelance for about ten seconds and I’ve only just started getting into the groove of it. It would suck to no longer be permitted to start work whenever the fuck I want and work in a t-shirt so old and soft and worn it’s see-through. However, I guess if it means I don’t have to leave I’m “theoretically” “down”.
This becomes an even more tenuous yes when I consider the myriad ways non freelance life contributes to infinite sadness: coffee machine awkward small talk; wearing a bra; asking someone a question who has those gummy in-ear headphones in, and they take ten seconds to take them out and then say “What is it?” and the question you had was nowhere near important enough for this level of interruption. Cue: eye roll, you dying a little bit more inside.
Pull A Marie Jalowicz Simon
I’m obsessed with her. Simon was a Jewish woman who lived in Berlin during World War 2. You have to understand this: she didn’t go into hiding, she just pulled a fast one and when the postman came asking for her, she said that she was Marie Jalowicz Simon’s neighbour and that Simon had been deported. This filtered down various layers of admin and on the records MJS got checked off as “disappeared.”
Real MJS continued to live a public, open life in Berlin during WW2. She brazened it out via feigning relationships (she was the “wife” of a Dutch guest worker Gerrit Burgers), acquiring a black eye (sadly from Burgers, happily which helped her blend in to the neighbourhood she was living in, where domestic violence was commonplace) and living with Nazis who swore that they could “smell Jews a mile off” but still didn’t pick up on who she actually was. Tempted to do the same, minus living with Nazis, minus black eye, minus same level of danger. MJS was a revolutionary, brave woman. I’m just a twerp hoping to fall through the administration net.
Marry A European
They have sexy accents, good food and sundappled homelands. Why not. However, it is still marriage and what if he’s French and I have to affect insouciance and wear loads of makeup but look like I’m wearing no makeup and never wear colours because, European ideals of sex appeal. Bummer tsunami.
Move To Scotland
I love Glasgow so much it hurts. But this is desperate because what if Scotland breaks up with not-so-Great Britain, because we suck. This would be fair enough, Scotland. Fly free, you beautiful eagle.
Move To Canada
Because it’s densely wooded, liberal and everyone seems pretty nice. Also, this. Just stop, Canada. Just stop. We get it. You’re so fucking cute.
Move Back To Ingerland
Just Stay In Berlin Forever And Never Go Anywhere So I Don’t Have To Use My Passport
I mean. It wouldn’t not work, right?
Move To The Moon Because No Political Unions Exist There
Looks like you’re stuck with me forever, Berlin. Phew!