Preserving Norway’s closest partnership in culture and commerce, Embassy Council Anne-Kirsti Wendel Karlsen lets us in on Berlin.
-What does a typical day at work look like for you?
“I spend a lot of time with representatives for German cultural life, and I am in continuous dialogue with both the Norwegian and German press. Karlsen also handles inquiries from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and she addresses questions and problems Norwegians in Germany might encounter. She says that they are noticing a strong increase in Norwegian tourists in Berlin. “We have approximately 200 000 Norwegian tourists visiting Berlin every year. There are better flight options and a growing popularity.”
-How do you like working and living in Berlin?
“Like most Norwegians living here, I love the life in Berlin. The city is, in contrary to many other big cities in Europe, very spacious. There are various parks, the streets are wide, and there is generally a pleasant pace here. You can easily get around on a bike. There are numerous small local shops and boutiques, and countless restaurants and cafes. The artists that live here make it into an interesting environment.” Karlsen lives in East Berlin with her wife Solbjørg, and she explains that the area where they live use to be very trendy and young, but has changed into a more family friendly area with time. This is typical for Berlin. “The city is constantly changing. One area is hip this year, next year it’s different. ”
-What areas do you want to focus on in the future?
“We want to reach out to different groups, with tailored massages. We want to increase the knowledge and understanding of Germany among Norwegians, while also promoting the Norwegian cultural, political, and commercial sector in Germany. We are using social media to an extent. We have been using Facebook and we will join Instagram next week. But there is a big difference in the way Germans and Norwegians use social media. Germans are much more restrictive in sharing private information on the web, so social medias not as widely used as in Norway.”
Karlsen was educated Cand.Philol, majoring in Russian, at the University of Bergen. She was born in Ålesund, but grew up in Harstad, Kragerø, Flekkefjord, and Halden. She has worked in the Foreign Service since 1997 and in addition to Berlin also worked at the embassy in Moscow. She has also been international advisor at the Prime Minister’s Office.