Marina Gerner @MarinaSGerner, 24.
PhD Candidate at the LSE and an aspiring freelance writer/journalist.
She was born in Kiev, Ukarine but grew up in Germany.
By this moment she has been living for more than 5 years in the UK among which 2 years are in London.
What brought you to London?
People always ask me this question and I should be expecting it by now, but somehow I can’t quite fully answer why I’m besotted with this city. It is a bit like when you’re asked to explain a crush, you end up mumbling something to do with ‘nice dimples’ and a moment later you’re like ‘did I just say that?’. However, when I want to sound like a more rational person, I say that London is unlike any other place in the world in terms of opportunities. I figured that I would like to live in London when I was 12 and I discover more and more how good that hunch was. The academic field that I am working in was pioneered in London. The kind of street dance I’m involved in is mainly taught in London. Happy mind, happy body. And now that I’ve been here for a while I’ve got a great group of friends and community.
Your first day in London?
First impressions rather than a specific first day are what I remember. It was very sunny and warm, visually I think of those lions on Trafalgar Square and Queen Victoria’s dazzling crown at the Tower of London, where my aunt took me.
How did you make friends in London?
By smiling and talking, can you believe it? J
In a pub, what you drink?
Pimms and Lemonade or any drink that is red.
Oyster, Bus or Bike?
Oyster all the way! Once I dressed up as an Oyster card at a London underground themed party in Manchester. Everybody else had come as a tube stop like King’s Cross or Waterloo, so I felt like a diplomat.
London in a word?
Cosmopolitan/ Buzzing/ Energy, oops that’s three words.
What’s your biggest gripe about London?
The weather, you know, I don’t like London if it doesn’t rain.
If given more time and freedom, what would you do in London?
I’d go to all comedy nights, musicals and plays and public lectures at the British Library, the Royal Literary Society, Intelligence Squared… you get my point.
What makes you a Londoner?
I feel at home in London and enjoy most aspects of it. I know it quite well but not well enough to get bored of it. And you know what they say “If you’re bored of London, yadda yadda yadda”.
A secret London spot or place?
The bicycle café on Tottenham Court Road, it’s not really a secret but they do great Mocha oh or Lantana on Charlotte Place by Goodge Street, maybe that’s more of a secret.
How British do you feel yourself?
I’m always told that I sound Canadian and look Scandinavian, Eastern European or American. But do I feel British? I have a lot of appreciation for British history, culture and people, that’s for sure. Sometimes I think that I’m a wanna-be-Brit although I’m pretty cosmopolitan at heart. A good friend of mine got me a book called “Being British” it’s a great collection of essays.
A symptom of a Londoner?
You can read the Evening Standard while being squished in any position on the tube, turning the pages with your teeth. I’m not sure if that’s a symptom or a special skill. Oh and have you seen this?
What food not to miss while in London?
Mmm, let me promote Golders Green. Take the northern line to Edgware and try “Likya” for Turkish food, “Carmellis” bakery for cinnamon raisin bagels and “Café Japan” for sushi.
Best achievement in London so far?
Once it only took 2 minutes to get a crêpe in Hampstead. Oh I’m saying that because you asked me the question about food before.
What advice would you give to someone moving to London?
Well, you have to love big cities, crowds of people, noise and commotion. Once you’re here get involved in whatever interests you and you’ll make friends on the way. Good luck!
PS. A note from Marina about the picture: It was taken at an art movie I played in 2 years ago. Funny enough, the shoot was on the same day in Frankfurt as my flight to London, when I moved here permanently.