If there’s one thing that can be said about BIMM Berlin, it’s that it’s a truly global music college… with students joining us from 27 different countries around the world. We love hearing about our students’ home cities and towns, and this time it’s the turn of Dorothy Morner who moved to Berlin from the Swedish capital city of Stockholm. Here she tells us about her experiences of both cities and why she loves her new life at BIMM.
What’s the biggest difference between Stockholm and Berlin?
I have a kind of love-hate relationship with Stockholm actually. On the one hand, it’s incredibly beautiful, and is spread out over several islands with mostly old and impressive architecture. It’s a very modern and progressive city when it comes to values of equality and human rights, and there seems to be a high political involvement in general. On the other hand, Stockholm is incredibly anxious. People care a lot about what they look like, who they hang out with, what kind of places they go to, what opinions they have, who they work with, and so on.
Berlin is probably the opposite of this – you can be as weird or as normal as you like and nobody cares. Being odd is appreciated and pushed for in many cases. I think the low rents (at least compared with Stockholm) give you more freedom to put time and energy into your art, even if it doesn’t sell too well. In Stockholm, people need 9-5 jobs to pay the rent.
Stockholm can be lots of fun, especially in the summer. As the winters are so long, cold and dark (it might be bright for about four hours on a cold winter’s day) people shut off the outside world like a bear going into hibernation, and then come out completely reborn and alive around April, ready to party the summer away. Actually, it’s not too different from Berlin, which also seems to become a completely new city in summer.
Stockholm is very segregated, with an expensive, fancy inner city, and then it develops outwards like a spider web. On the outskirts of that web you have suburbs where people feel completely forgotten by the government, and many live outside the system. Berlin is more area-focused and you have your food stores, cafés, bars and nightclubs in the same street.
How does the music scene in Berlin compare to Stockholm?
There’s some really cool stuff music-wise in Stockholm, but I feel like there’s less space for people to challenge the norms sound-wise. If you make music which fits with the styles that are hip at the moment (which I would say is either pop, classic indie, R’n’B or trap) people will pay attention, but if you challenge that, it’s likely to go unnoticed. It’s also harder to get gigs if you’re not a really big act, as there are fewer music venues.
In Berlin, it’s a lot easier to be a musician, as there’s an endless amount of bars and venues where you can perform or scout out new music… and there’s something for every genre. Techno and electronic music are dominant, but there’s a lot of space to experiment. The city has such a strong cultural vibe that there will always be places where you can express yourself.
How did you make friends in Berlin?
Some friends I knew previously, some I met through BIMM, some I met through share accommodation and some I met at bars, cafés or through music-related situations. I never found it hard to meet people in this city, and almost everyone I’ve met has an interest in some kind of art.
How does the food in Berlin differ to Stockholm?
There are a lot more kebab, falafel and halloumi places in Berlin, and they’re about half the price! In Stockholm you’d have to pay 6-7 euros at a normal kebab place, and probably around 9 euros at a fancy falafel restaurant. In general, it’s basically the same food but a lot cheaper here, which obviously has to do with the lower wages.
Is there anything you always ask your family to post you from Stockholm that isn’t available here in Berlin?
Hmmm… probably the pick ‘n mix candy. It’s really cheap and they have what seems like a thousand different flavours that you can put into your own, very big bag!
What’s your favourite thing about studying at BIMM Berlin?
All the musicians you’re surrounded with, who do so many different things… and that includes teachers as well as students. There’s so much to learn that I can’t even explain it. If I compare myself musically from when I arrived here to where I am now, there’s such an intense development. It’s not only skills-wise, but also in terms of finding a musical identity and knowing what I want to do with it… and that’s all thanks to the people here at BIMM.
What advice would you give someone moving from Stockholm to Berlin to study?
Move into a WG – that’s the easiest way to get to know people, and a lot of fun if you’re in a good one! Come down here a couple of months before universities start for the term and you’ll avoid being a sheep in a massive room-hunting field. If you don’t want to go over a certain price, it can be tricky to look for a place. Sometimes you’ll be lucky, but sometimes it can take months, so be prepared for that. Other than that, I’d say just go for it – it will be a lot of fun!