Humans Of Berkeley – Marthe Sandberg

Written by Marthe Sandberg

14 May 2024


Stories from the start

Stories have always played a huge role in my life. As far back as I can remember, I would be reading and listening to stories every time I had the chance. What the story was, and whether I’d already heard it a million times before didn’t matter.  In fact, I often preferred to listen to the same stories, read the same books (Nancy Drew being a big favourite), and watch the same movies over and over again.  I found comfort in knowing what to expect, knowing that I’ll enjoy it, and reliving the feeling it gave me the first time I heard it.

I was very close with my grandparents growing up and spent a lot of weekends away with them. And, even though this is now 20 years ago, I can still vividly remember my grandpa’s night-time stories. He would come up with them on the spot, plucking the most engaging tales out of thin air, and tell them in such an enthralling, soothing way. He was an incredibly compelling narrator, and I can still picture the characters he spoke about to this day, often running around somewhere in the Norwegian forest.

A passion for communication

As I grew older, I found myself struggling to determine a career-path. I didn’t really know what I wanted to do, all I knew was that I was enamoured by the idea of storytelling and communicating. Actually, for a very long time I wanted to be a pop star – as many young girls do. I filled notebooks to the brim with terrible, cliche songs about everything I, as a 10-year-old girl, knew about love and life (which you’re probably not surprised to hear, wasn’t a lot). Luckily for us all, that dream came and went, but the passion for creativity and storytelling stuck around. Yet the time for me to make a decision about my future was edging ever closer, and I was becoming more and more uncertain about what I wanted.

So, of course, I did what we all do when we have absolutely no clue what to do. I decided it was time to pack my suitcase and move from safe, old Norway to big, hectic, chaotic London; where I knew nothing and no-one. All of a sudden, I found myself in the extremely liberating position of being able to re-invent myself. I could tell my story exactly how I wanted to, be the narrator of my own life, and start working on its next chapters. I felt, and still feel, so proud of who I am and where I come from, but now there was nothing to hold me back from being who I wanted to be.

That’s not to say it’s been easy. It has been exhausting and terrifying at times. But then every great story needs a little conflict. Mostly though, the experience has been fascinating. I remember being so confused about people’s politeness to begin with. Why was everyone constantly asking me if I was alright when greeting me? Did I look upset? As a true Norwegian, I was used to avoiding eye-contact and only greeting people with the bare minimum if I absolutely had to. But I quickly learnt the importance of understanding who I was talking to, and adapting the narrative to who was hearing my story and how I wanted them to experience it.

A new path

I’ve been so lucky to get to know, and learn from incredible people throughout my entire life, and have been surrounded by people with different experiences, opinions, and outlooks who have helped shape me to become the person I am today.

Having come to Berkeley and entered the PR industry – an industry I previously knew little about – I was lucky to be welcomed by so many incredible people. Although I had little previous experience in PR, Berkeley and I had one major thing in common, a love for stories and storytelling.

Being part of a company where communication is at the core of everything we do, I’ve learned quicker than ever how powerful storytelling can be, and I am ever more certain that it will continue to play a powerful role in my life.

Who is your favourite storyteller? It would have to be Lars Saabye Christensen, a Norwegian author who writes the most amazing stories, books, and poems.

What would you sing at a karaoke night? I once had to perform Radio Gaga by Queen in front of the entire school, and it has since stuck with me as my go-to karaoke song.

What is the most used app on your phone? Spotify.