Arriving into a city with a barrage of light, sound and bubbles is not your typical welcome – but for Lola, this was the most unexpected, yet perfect greeting for her.
“When I came out of Alexanderplatz at 11:30pm on September 2014, someone had put washing up liquid in the fountain, so the entire square was full of soap suds and there was live music playing with some unusual instruments. It was a great and surreal thing that I arrived to”, explains Lola.
“It’s a city where I feel as though I am at my most creative and adventurous.”
Currently studying Visual and Media Anthropology at the Freie Universität Berlin, Lola is additionally working as a social media manager for Citystay Hostel Berlin and website Hostelfy. In actuality her second time living in Berlin, 31-year-old Lola first came to roll the dice here in 2007. The city completely grabbed her as part of a Eurotrip, where a healthy mix of fate, chance and spontaneity brought her to the German capital.
“I was backpacking through Europe and sitting in a Paris train station wondering where to go next,” says Lola, as we sit outside a café on brightly lit winter day. “The first destination I saw on the platform was Berlin, so I thought I might as well go there! I knew some history about Berlin and had an impression of what it would be like, which was wrongly uptight and expensive. My few days here were a wonderful experience, so as I kept travelling through Europe, I was always thinking that I’d like to live and work in Berlin one day.”
Jumping onto computers at Internet cafés whenever she had the chance, Lola would send her C.V to anyone and everyone. So determined to find somewhere to work in Berlin, that she eventually landed a job at a tour company in a matter of weeks.
“I was in Amsterdam at the time when someone replied and asked for an interview,” reminisces Lola. “I worked there for a few months, expecting to be creating content for their magazine, as I’d always wanted to be a writer. However, it ended up being more a physical job, like carrying things and doing menial tasks!”
Lola ended up quitting the work due to a lack of opportunity, eventually taking a job at a startup app company, which unfortunately never took off the ground. Feeling slightly restless and a touch disillusioned after one year in the city, Lola returned back to her home in the Philippines, carving out a respectable career as a managing editor of a magazine. Yet, despite a good job and exciting lifestyle, a nagging feeling in the back of her mind told Lola that her time was not yet finished in Berlin.
“After I left Berlin, I stayed in the Philippines for seven years and during that period, I’d often felt like I wanted to try Berlin again,” Lola illuminates. “Nonetheless, the time went fast and I didn’t exactly take it seriously or believe it. However, I knew I had to adjust and make this Berlin thing happen.”
Winds of Change
Deciding that she wanted to study again and desiring an international degree, the longing to create a new and different chapter was far more life affirming. After sending off applications to many universities and eventually being accepted at the Freie Universität, Lola actually knew all along that she was going to Berlin regardless.
“I liked the idea of jumping off without a net. You start to question yourself as you get older, asking if you could do this again,” Lola says. But I can do anything and I will be whatever I want. In the past, everything had to be planned perfectly, but now I’m more easy going and relaxed.”
As Mauer Park’s Sunday market is one of Lola’s favourite places to be, she agrees that Berlin is simply swarming with free and infectious entertainment. “I think Berlin can adapt to any age or personality. Whatever you’re after, Berlin can give it,” states Lola. “It’s not so much about all the parties in Berlin, but the sense that anything and everything is possible. It’s a city where I feel as though I am at my most creative and adventurous.”
Lola’s personal blog can be found at lookingforlola.flavors.me
This post is part of our series “How to make it in Berlin” howtomakeitin.berlin.
Text: Joe Garland