Niklas

Film Maker

Lives in Leeds // From Vienna, Austria

I always wanted to study film and I wanted to become a filmmaker. My aunt lives in London, she’s a TV producer – she always pushed me, “don’t you want to study in an English speaking country?” and I wanted to. I sort of made the decision when I was ten or eleven that I want to study filmmaking in an English speaking country, and when I was old enough I looked into Universities and I found this one in Leeds. My girlfriend moved to the UK last year so she has been living with me for the past year. We have been a couple back home in Austria, and when I made the decision to come study here she said that she wanted to go to America for a year as a nanny au pair, so she did that during the first year I was here. 

It was hard at first finding friends and everything but definitely easier for me than for her because I am studying and she is just working. It’s just easier to make mates in Uni than solely through work. To be fair, it took me about a year or year and a half to find those people that you really are on the same wavelength with. Before that most of the friends were just acquaintances or forced friendships so as not to be alone. I think that it has been a part of why it took me so long to find those people that you can have deep talks with and not just this surface. 

Most of those friendships I then had were false in the sense of just not to be alone in student accommodation all day. When it comes to going out, people here go out way more intense, they get really pissed and everything. I am not used to that sort of extent. Going out for me usually was just having a good time. Yeah, drinking alcohol and that but not to that extent as they do it here. I think I felt a bit of an outsider in that sense but I think it’s a strong word to use.

I think sometime, during the first half of the uni year, I definitely doubted whether it’s the place I want to stay and want to be but I think a lot of that had to do with my girlfriend not being here and there was a 9 hour difference. You would always have to set up Skype dates and then not being home, not having any close friends, I think that was intense.

I think I still have the opinion that I only believe Brexit is going to happen when it actually happens. How many times they have postponed all of this? It has been three years and nothing has really changed, nobody knows what is going on. Until anyone knows what is going on, I am not convinced that they will definitely leave. I think I had that mind-set when I was applying for University, too. 

I think I would have wanted to go and vote, and be a part of the decision but on the other hand I feel it would be unfair because it is and it isn’t my country in that sense. I don’t think I have stayed here long enough to make that decision. I think I’d be angry if I couldn’t vote but I would understand why I can’t vote.

For now, in terms of my short time goal, I definitely do want to stay. Ideally, move somewhere more southern because that’s where film and direction is but that’s still up in the air. I have no idea if I ever get to live this as my profession, to live as a filmmaker and I don’t know where it will take me. 

I am a European but obviously, since I grew up there, I know more about Austrian culture. But now living here for two years and hopefully longer, I kind of feel like I get to understand British mentality more and more, and I think I am becoming British in that sense as well. I would say I am a European but rooted in Austria. When I am here, and I am saying I am going to Austria, I say “I’m going home”. When I am in Austria and say I am going to Leeds, I’m going home. For the first year or first couple of months I wouldn’t have considered here home, now it really does feel like home. 

I think I would want to keep my Austrian passport, definitely. If I could get two citizenships… but I definitely wouldn’t want to lose the Austrian one. I don’t know yet where I’m going to be in 50 or 60 years, maybe I will want to move back to where I am from. I just don’t want to take that opportunity away. Before I came here, I was like, “that’s the place I want to be”. It’s nice but I also really like home, but I wouldn’t mind going somewhere else, too.

Apart from people, food, how the country is itself and all that, I think I’ve only come to value that since I have been here. I never was that much into Austrian food as I am now which is because I can’t have it every day, it makes me want to have it. I’ve just come to value life back at home how it was, but I am happy that I have come to realise that. I think British people have this fake politeness, they are always smiling and asking you how your day was but they don’t mean it. Whereas back home, I feel like no cashier would ask me about my day, it they are grumpy then they are grumpy. I do kind of like that here even though they don’t mean it. It just seems like a nice habit. 

Austria, especially where I am from, is very multicultural and it is here as well. It is different cultures here but it’s just as multicultural. I don’t think you could call it a culture shock, but it’s just different bits and pieces that you come across every now and then, and you think “oh wow, I’ve never seen it done this way”. For example, when I was setting up my bank account, I never knew something as cheques still existed because they are so outdated but apparently they still use them over here. It’s those sort of things.

When you move you just have to take more responsibility for everything that you do, it helps you grow up faster in that sense. I don’t think I was that immature before I came here, but those things that you never get taught in school like setting up bank account, talking to insurance companies, and stuff I never knew anything about but you just have to learn on the job, so to speak. If it’s a clear accent I am fine talking to people on the phone but if they talk very quick and you have to give answers straight away, I just don’t know what’s happening.

In retrospect, all these things that you sort of learn through these situations, however bad you may have felt back then, I think it’s good that I did what I did. It definitely taught me a lot. I am not afraid of being alone now as I was before. I am okay if I am alone for two or three weeks, I can deal with it now. I don’t think I was at that mind-set back then.

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