Articles by Sophia Burton

Interview: Three Dimensions of Integration

It's easy (and admittedly amusing) to reduce expats to stereotypes, as if we all neatly fall into one or the other category based on which country we hail from, what we do for a living, or where we party and eat brunch. Reality is always more nuanced and multi-dimensional. Dare we even say, interesting?... [Read More!]

Lens: An Ode to the Maybachufer

From Berlin's "problem district" to more expensive than spießig Charlottenburg: Kreuzberg's made quite the transformation over the decades, but migration continues to shape its identity and reputation as a district. The bulk of Kreuzberg's diversity stems from the '50s and '60s, when guest workers were recruited by West Germany to fill labor shortages after World War II*. Kreuzberg's dilapidated housing became home to guest workers, primarily from Turkey... [Read More!]

Beyond Berlin: Difference on the Blessed Isle

For about three weeks this holiday season, I explored the small tear-shaped island of Sri Lanka with a close friend from Berlin. Though Sri Lanka and the South Asia region were new terrain for us both, this wasn't our first backpacking rodeo. We were experienced enough travelers to expect the ups and downs that a trip of this magnitude would throw our way. We reveled in the highs - a school of fish gracefully drifting past us 12m deep into the Indian Ocean, the exquisitely pungent scents and colors of turmeric and homemade roasted curry powder... [Read More!]

Happy Weekend Review: An Old-New Christmas Market

Let's just come right out with it: It's hard to beat Christmas in Germany. Glühwein, cookies, classic lights, decorations strewn across homes and street corners, a calendar that expects, nay, requires you eat a chocolate per day... it's simply wonderful. Though I grew up in the US, my family celebrated Christmas the Teutonic way. I have more than fond memories of hiding the Buttergebäck and Lebkuchen in the laundry room from our Opa so he wouldn't devour them in one sitting, ripping open a human-size Adventskalendar in the course of one night made by our Oma... [Read More!]

Interview: Hamid, Stardom, and the Difference Threshold

It's November of last year and Kelly and I are visiting relatives of mine in Soest, a small town of under 50,000 in Northwestern Germany. We're hanging out in the kitchen, chatting over a cup of coffee, when one of my cousin's friends walks in. He pauses with one arm holding open the door, staring at us like a deer in headlights. Before we have the chance to say Hallo he's turned and raced up the stairs to my cousin's room. Teenage boys, we initially chuckled... [Read More!]

Lens: With Wings, Roots, and Sweaty Hands

"Punctual. Exact. Productive. Closed off. Careful. Inflexible. Humorless." And some "Goethe" and "Einstein" thrown in for good measure. Was this really all a group of seemingly well-educated professionals had to say about German identity? No wonder the facilitator had started to draw sad faces on the list... [Read More!]

Lens: Coming (home)

I'm pretty sure it was the 1st grade. We were drawing pictures of our families and I carefully wrote Mami under the lopsided stick figure cast as my mother. A kid next to me leaned over and inspected my work. "That's not how you write 'Mommy'!" he squealed. "Yes it is!" I responded fiercely, confident that this was exactly how my Mami had taught me to spell it. Our teacher overheard the bickering and swooped in for the rescue. We were both right, she explained patiently. Mami was just "Mommy" in a different language... [Read More!]

Multiculturalism, Diversity, and the Big City

With my back to them at the street-side café I felt like a judge on "The Voice", straining my neck for any hint of where they were from or what they looked like, resisting the urge to swirl around and start dancing on my chair. Truth be told my ears had perked up as soon as the trio plopped down at the table behind me, switching between topics like gentrification in Kreuzberg and the cultural difference between Kaffee and "coffee" as quickly as they were switching between German and English... [Read More!]

Reviewing the Rave: “We are the We”

We're so used to talking all the time that words tend to lose their effect. Especially when the talking is predominantly happening in one direction, as it so often does in immigration discourse. The Migrantas organization is unleashing an alternate voice within immigrant women in Germany that is arguably just as powerful: their artistic creativity... [Read More!]
1 2 3 4