Studying in Berlin
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Berlin Vol 1.3: beer festival, museums and school

Picking up from where I left off, I had now moved into my flat for the summer and it soon felt like I’d always lived there.

My roommate and I had planned a nice celebratory dinner at a restaurant in our new neighbourhood but we found out that it was the last day of the Berlin Beer Festival so we went there instead. You can’t come to Germany and not attend a beer festival. Whether you like beer or not, that’s just how it is.

We ended up having an amazing time- although only three beers. The first consisted of passion fruit flavoured beer, which we drank while watching a brass band. One of the band members had the most impressive beards I have ever seen. You can’t beat a good beard.

You could tell who had been at the festival all day; they were loving it. There was dancing and singing and the English were easily recognisable, trying to pour beer into their mouths from a great height. They seemed to be on a stag weekend, as evidenced by the guy in a tutu. The matching, customised shirts were another clue.

The second beer was a Duff. Even my unrefined palate could tell it wasn’t the greatest beer at the festival but it was a Duff- I didn’t even know that was a real thing away from The Simpsons. Before number three, we had a food break in order to get some bratwurst. I mean, it was Germany,  it was a beer festival- if now wasn’t the time for the local cuisine, then when was?

Bratwurst

The final beer was beer mixed in with crushed raspberries- I’m sure that counts as one of your five a day.

The next day marked my first day at language school. Getting up for 9am was a shock to the system but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t happy to have a routine again. I won’t go into detail about my time at the Deutsch Akademie but let’s just say that it was really good. My teacher and class were friendly and the lessons were conducted in German, meaning that you couldn’t help but learn. Although I had studied German for 6 years in England, but knowledge of the language was pretty poor and I hadn’t spoken it 5 years so I thought it was best to start from the beginning. After a couple of lessons, I realised I wasn’t challenging myself enough and luckily there was a space in one of the classes at the next level, so I moved up. It was trickier and I understood a lot less but thankfully that meant that I learned a lot more.

Having moved into the new place and started school, the next thing on the to-do list was a food shop. We had tried to do one on Sunday afternoon, as soon as we moved in, but apparently Berlin shuts down on a Sunday. Even Lidl was closed. I have to say, shopping at Lidl was one of the most confusing experiences I have ever had. There was no rhyme or reason to where any of the food was so nothing was easy to find and we ended up having to do a catch-up shop at the more expensive Kaisers. It was just easier that way.

The area I was living in- Kreuzberg– is pretty awesome. There are bars and restaurants aplenty and a really young, buzzy vibe. I’ve heard it compared to areas of London such as Soho, Camden and Shoreditch, so you get the idea.

Some of the first few places I tried were 101 Falafel, which does an amazing falafel and haloumi wrap, Chaampa Thai Kitchen, which does what can only be described as a kick-ass chicken with fried rice noodles and the Tiki Hut, which does a pretty good cocktail and some tasty burgers.

Since I’d started to learn the language, I went to a cinema in Alexanderplatz to see a German film- somewhat optimistically. I understood very little; I basically just watched the pictures. It was even more confusing than Lidl. But when in Rome.

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On a more positive note, I finally got round to do something touristy, which came in the form of the Pergamon Museum on Museumsinsel (aka Museum Island). I had already been there but it was worth the second trip. The museum specialises in antiquities and as a Classics student that is a pretty good thing. In addition to the Roman exhibit, there were also artifacts from the Near East and Islamic Art, so there is a real variety of things you may not normally see.

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Afterwards we wandered around the area of Mitte and found an alleyway covered in graffiti. It’s surprising how there is so street art in Berlin but yet you never get tired of looking at it.

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