International Berlin

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Like most of Europe’s capital cities, Berlin is always being influenced by people and ideas coming from overseas.

The evidence of this can be seen everywhere, from The Sony Centre in Potzdammer Platz to the Vietnamese restaurants of Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg. DeutschAkademie itself is a good example of this: students here come from all continents of the world.

Much like in London and New York, migration has shaped much of Berlin’s history: the arrival of workers from Turkey and refugees from countries like Vietnam saw the population of some districts change dramatically.

But what seems to be unique about Berlin is just how quickly it has become cosmopolitan. Even in the last few years, established immigrant groups have been joined by new waves of European, American, Chinese and Russian migrants coming to make a life for themselves.

Even your blogger, who has lived in the English cities of London and Birmingham (both home to many foreigners) was surprised at the number of nationalities he encountered on the streets of Berlin.

And with this inflow of people from overseas comes foreign business, capital and culture. Names like Starbucks and H&M are as familiar to Berliners as they are to New Yorkers and Londoners.

As in all big cities, there will always be debates here about the benefits and drawbacks of migration and globalisation. Yet for many, Berlin’s  status as an international city seems to be less a cause for soul-searching but for excitement and celebration.