Best of Bavaria
By Sorrel Moseley-Williams
For The Herald
Born: Buenos Aires
Degree: Systems degree at Caece
Job: Senior developer at Sky
Currently watching: The Night Of
Gadget: Maschine, to make electronic music
Though his career in TV was going well in Buenos Aires, Pedro Sugasti realized the only way to progress further would be doing a stint abroad. The die was cast when he worked during the 2006 World Cup in Germany, and his plan firmed up three years ago when he moved to Munich for a job with a broadcaster.
Pedro says: “The first time I came to Germany was 10 years ago when I did TV graphics during the FIFA World Cup. I had the opportunity to stay in Munich for two months and I loved the city; at that point, almost unconsciously, I thought I’d come and live here.
“At the time I was doing well in Argentina, working for Clarín Group doing images for TN as well for football in the graphics department. I wanted to improve the way we see these things on TV in Argentina and felt I needed to gain some foreign experience, take on a bigger challenge. I decided I needed to make an about turn in my career with respect to tech projects. I sent my CV to Sky, the biggest network in Europe and it has all the rights to the Bundesliga. They offered me a good contract, so I came, I liked it – and I stayed.”
Blessed with a contract from the broadcaster, Pedro says Germany heavily invests in its professionals. “I didn’t have any paperwork sorted out – and I don’t have European citizenship – but when they see someone they like, they go for it.
“Germany isn’t super rich with petroleum or natural resources like Argentina. Its biggest capital is human capital, so it’s important for them to bring in engineers, architects, all kinds of professionals to come and work for them, and they give you all the authorization to work here if you fit the bill. That’s a big difference in comparison with other countries such as the US, when it comes to paperwork and visas.”
As for the language, Pedro works mostly in English – though he did strike a deal to learn German with his employer. “After three years I still don’t have much German! It’s hard. I was told I wouldn’t need to speak the language perfectly although the channel had hoped I would learn. So I am studying, a little every day. But at work we manage everything in English, which is fine.”
Besides trying to get to grips with a new language, one major cultural difference Pedro has had to adapt to is the way Germans communicate. He says: “Argentines are very friendly, getting together for pizza or asado and there’s always a reason to do so. The Argentine integrates easily. But here, social groups are smaller, five or six friends, — a smaller nucleus — and they always get together with the same people. There’s integration in Germany, and then there’s integrating with Germans.”
The developer lives in Berg am Laim, the peaceful 14th district in Munich. “It’s residential and I have a good view so I can see the sky. From here, I can get anywhere in the city in 15 minutes, which is very comfortable. It’s got everything, I don’t need to take any transport to get anywhere; there’re six supermarkets close by, a few malls.
“I live on my own in a one-bedroom apartment and it’s hard to rent because lots of people are coming to live here and the law states owners can’t charge what they want. Often 50 people are after the same property. But it’s very comfy, my sister is visiting from Buenos Aires this week, my mum has been, and soon it will be Oktoberfest and all the beer gardens come to life.
“Munich has a very high quality of life. It’s a city with a lot of parks, woods and rivers, very ecological as they use solar panels and there’s a lot of consciousness toward the environment. You can get everywhere by bike. The city is impeccable. People are very receptive; there are lots of foreigners and I’ve never felt discriminated against – on the contrary, I’ve always been treated with the greatest of respect and always been accepted.”
As for free time, Pedro enjoys pedalling around the city, travelling, making the most of Munich’s central European location and dating Munich’s fräulein. He says: “Sometimes I play football, I go to the gym and go out on my bike a lot; we cycle to the river and have a barbecue, or go skiing in the mountains in winter; they are close by. Plus I’m studying German – still! – and I travel quite a lot. Munich is very close to lots of places so I’ll fly somewhere new for a few days.
“I go to Berlin regularly, I love it and that’s my favourite city here. Sometimes I need a bit of city and action so I go there, plus it’s near. There’s a great cultural and arts scene, with people between aged 25 and 40 doing lots of cool shows, events and exhibitions. I was in Nuremburg not long ago, and also Hamburg, and loved them both. And I visit Frankfurt regularly as a friend lives there.
“And I go out with a few girls – Munich has the highest number of single women so there’s quite a market! German women are much more direct about what they need than Argentines. They tell you what they want and if you’re not what they want then they tell you, they make it quite easy.”
Despite saying it can be hard to make friends with Germans, the porteño transplant has made some headway. He adds: “I do have some German friends – once they accept you, they value you. I don’t have a million friends but have got three or four with whom I go out regularly. When I go skiing, for example, I go with three Argentine friends who live in London, another who lives in Frankfurt, his partner who is Austrian, an English girl, a German friend of mine, plus a Swedish guy and his German girlfriend. That’s a typical weekend’s skiing.”
On whose time?
As for his most German characteristic it has been an improvement in timekeeping, for sure. He says: “I’m punctual and organized, though for Argentines I am very German. However, when I turn up five minutes late, the Germans look at me like, ‘WTF’. And I say, ‘well, it’s only five minutes!’ It’s been very good for me, though.
“In Argentina you live day to day, because of the climate or because we’re like the Italians going from one commotion to the next, trying to solve problems. Here, they give you the resources so you can live in a organized way. If you can’t live organized here, you can’t do it anywhere. Buses arrive promptly, people turn up at exactly 9am and you almost never queue up in the supermarket.”
Besides his friends and family, Pedro misses his favourite sport in all its formats and hanging out for the sake of it. He says: “Football, watching it and playing with my friends. Also food, restaurants and the gastronomic movement in Buenos Aires. And the idiosyncrasy of getting together with people and doing nothing! It’s nothing, but when you don’t do it, you miss it. Drinking mate. That’s basically doing nothing. Here, when you get together it’s with an objective. We gather to eat, go to the theatre or cinema. To do something, with a purpose. Which we also do in Buenos Aires but we also get together to do nothing. I miss friends dropping on a Tuesday evening to do something or nothing.”