Lena fits the definition of "Berlin cool girl." Originally from Potsdam, she's lived in Berlin for 5 years. Before joining the corporate world as a self-proclaimed HR guru, she worked for Aveda for 2 years. But don't let her professional demeanor fool you into thinking she's no fun; she's also lived in Vienna, Austria and close to Johannesburg, South Africa and has enough stories to keep you laughing all night long.
Q: Where in Berlin do you live and what drew you to this area?
A: I live in Prenzlauer berg and I love my area. My cousin used to live in my apartment so I got lucky when she moved out and it was handed down to me. [I can confirm that Lena's apartment is one of the nicest I've been to in Berlin. Lots of natural light.]
Q: What's your favorite spot in your neighborhood?
A: I love the café we're in right now (Lola was Here (Seelower Str. 8, 10439 Berlin)). I wrote a big piece of my master's thesis and drank a lot of cappuccinos here. I also like just strolling down Schönhauser Allee when I'm in the mood to people watch or hanging out in Mauer Park.
Q: What would you say in the next best neighborhood?
A: If I ever leave Prenzlauer berg, I want to live somewhere that has more nature and parks. Maybe somewhere I can have a (big) dog so probably closer to Grunewald except I am more into the east of Berlin. So I'm not sure...
Q: Where and what did you study?
A: I got my bachelor's in Münster in British & American Studies and Cultural and Social Anthropology. For my masters I came back to Berlin and studied African Studies focusing on Linguistics.
Q: What languages can you speak?
A: Languages are my thing! I can obviously speak English and German. I also speak French, Spanish, and Northern Sotho. I took Afrikaans lessons and Danish lessons but can't speak them fluently. When I was younger, I wanted to learn Russian. In the eastern part of Germany (former GDR) where I grew up, Russian (not English) was taught in school until the Berlin Wall fell. Even though I was born after the wall came down, there were still many teachers who spoke Russian even though it was not offered at school anymore. I tried to have a Russian class set up in my school but not enough people were interested so I still haven't learned it, but one day I will!
Q: What drew you back to Berlin?
A: Like most capital cities in Europe, Berlin is not representative of the rest of the country. Berlin is very multicultural and open-minded. You can find at least one of every kind of person there is in the world in Berlin. Also, you can get whatever type of food you want and I think that's amazing.
Q: What's your favorite kind of food?
A: Very basic, but Italian.
Q: Go to order?
A: Vegetarian pizza with burrata mozzarella
Q: Go to drink order?
A: I jumped on the gin and tonic bandwagon but I'm over it know. I've been drinking a lot of aperol spritzes but I'm probably gonna be over that soon too. Maybe a frozen margarita? But I'll have to find a new drink for the winter...definitely not whiskey but I do enjoy a gluhwein. And I usually prefer a white wine over red.
Q: Go to coffee order?A: Cappuccino Q: What’s your vacation packing vibes?
A: I always have a super detailed list way in advance. Since most of my trips are short city trips, I take a backpack with me and then I don't overpack because I don't have enough space!
Q: Stadt oder Natur?
A: I can't decide because I want best of worlds. I'm still dreaming about this super small village called Bulungula in South Africa that was all nature with just a few houses. That's my favorite natural place. My favorite city is [if we're narrowing it down to Europe] is Copenhagen. It's not uncomfortably clean and polished. people dress well, and the streets aren't dirty.
Q: What's your morning routine?
A: My alarm goes off at 6:45am, I don't leave my bed until 7:30am (snoozing and then scrolling through IG or responding to texts). I am 100% a morning shower person. I shampoo and condition everyday, then use face serum (Body Shop's Drops of Youth), eye cream, face cream, and body lotion if I can be bothered, I'll put on my makeup and blow dry my hair (10-15 mins) with a round brush. While I'm blow drying my hair, I'll make my coffee in my moka pot (I grind my beans fresh every morning - coffee snob!) I pour it into a to-go mug and head out the door for a ~30 minute walk. I like listening to a podcast (currently Gemischtes Hack) or sending voice messages to my friends while I'm out. The I'll head back home, log into work around 9, and maybe eat a slice of toast for breakfast if I'm hungry [this is why Lena is so skinny].
Q: [For all your Tinder matches that are curious] what's your shower routine?
A: I shampoo, rinse out shampoo, and condition (all Aveda - I'll never use anything else again). The I use face wash (natural cosmetics range from DM), [Lena got awkward talking about shaving so we'll skip that part].
Q: What's your nighttime routine?
A: I'm a basic bitch so I'll watch something on Netflix. Right now I'm watching Babylon Berlin. Sometimes I'll call a friend to chat and then do my nighttime routine in the bathroom (remove my makeup, special night time moisturizer (Biotherm Aquasource), brush teeth). I'll be in bed between 10pm and 11pm but I don't fall asleep until midnight because I'm scrolling on IG and sending voice messages again. I always fall asleep listening to a podcast.
Q: What advice would you give someone moving to Berlin?
A: Expect that it'll be difficult to develop friendships beyond just the shallow state. It takes a while to meet people you can really be friends with. It can be difficult to make real connections even though you might be meeting a lot of new people. Give it time!
Q: What's your next vacation destination?
A: I'm usually the type of person who always has something booked because I need something to look forward to. I've had to learn to let that go because of COVID. I don't feel comfortable booking something right now, but I would love to with from Italy [with Shanzi] for a month if the situation allows it.
Q: Favorite Saturday night Berlin destination?
A: I like getting drinks at my favorite bar called Kohlenquelle (Kopenhagener Str. 16, 10437 Berlin). I like this bar because there's nothing fancy about it and it still has very original, back-in-the-day Berlin vibes.
Q: Who do you call when you need advice? To vent?
A: For serious life advice, I'll call my mom or dad (which depends on the topic). For less serious advice (like, should I buy the black coat or brown coat?) I would ask my friends from uni. When I need to vent, I'll just message them in our group chat.
Q: What’s one thing you wish more people did?
A: Put themselves in other people's shoes because it will automatically make them more empathetic. Most people are able to do this when you tell them to, but I would like them to do it without me suggesting it.
Q: And lastly, because you have such fun style, where do you shop for clothes?
A: I really like & Other Stories. Their jewelry is really good. [Lena has her septum pierced, 2 holes in her right ear, and 3 holes in her left ear so there's lots of jewelry to be worn!] I do a lot of online window shopping to get inspiration. I'll check out the "new" section on ASOS or something without actually buying something.