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Welcome to FU-BEST’s Berlin

Berlin: Tipps für die hippste Stadt DeutschlandsWelcome to our official FU-BEST blog! Here we share everything exciting in and around Berlin with our current FU-BESTers. Of course, everyone else who is interested in getting a glimpse into the perks of being a student in Berlin is cordially invited to join us along the ride.

You’ll find tips for interesting lectures on and off campus, free time activities, event information, our favorite eating spots, and many other things that make Berlin unique.

Thanksgiving in Berlin

On the fourth Thursday of November, people in the United States celebrate Thanksgiving, probably the biggest national holiday and with that something that will be missed while abroad. Thankfully, there are a lot of American expats that brought the tradition to Berlin with them. Here’s a few places that offer authentic American Thanksgiving food as well as tips on where to find ingredients if you want to cook for yourself!

1. Tasty Take Away at Stella

Pick up the year’s most special dinner at Fortuna’s Table & Stella, located in the heart of Neukölln! If you order for a minimum of 6 people before Nov 17th, you will get to indulge in their originally American-style turkey (they also have vegan options.) You can choose between 3 different courses, with prices ranging from 38€-70€.

2. Humble Pie & Fräulein Kimchi

Ready made heat and serve menus by pick-up or delivery. On offer are a full menu (39,50 € per person) or a lite menu (29,50 € per person), including a vegetarian option. They also offer to cater your party with a whole turkey and all the fixins by request.

3. Barcomi’s

Barcomi’s are famous for their American-style cakes and pies which you can order for pick-up or delivery in their online shop. Special Thanksgiving menu items are available!

Thanksgiving – for all who prefer to cook themselves

The turkey…

Germans eat turkey for Christmas, if at all, so it’s good to organize your bird in advance. Most Fleischereien will be able to sort a bird out if you give them a week’s notice. Plan on 500 grams per person when ordering, more if you’re fond of leftovers.

… and where to get it:

  • Rogacki, Wilmersdorfer Str.145/46, Charlottenburg: Fresh turkeys available for ~9 €/kg. Giblets are included for no additional charge. Some have said Rogacki can be relied on to have turkey in stock, but it is recommended to place an order. Open: Tue-Th 10am-6pm, Fr 9am-6pm, Sat 8am-2pm, Tel. 030 3438250
  • Kaufhauf des Westens (KaDeWe), Tauentzienstraße 21, Schöneberg: Battery turkeys are ~7 €/kg, organic ones are ~13 €/kg, giblets for ~6 €/kg. Open: Wed-Sat 10am-8pm, Mon-Tue 10am-8pm, Tel. 030 21210 (poultry counter)
  • Fleischerei Domke, Warschauer Str. 64, Friedrichshain: Frozen turkeys are ~10 €/kg, while fresh ones are ~12 €/kg (without giblets). They say it’s best to come by in person to place an order, but Domke always has a few turkeys (presumably frozen) on hand. Open: Mon-Fr 6:30am-10pm, Sat 8am-9pm, Su 11am-9pm Tel. 030 2917635.

Make your own vegan loaf:

This vegan meatless loaf is so moist and flavorful that you won’t need stuffing or even gravy. It’s gluten-free and soy-free, too!

German guide to the Thanksgiving classics:

The stuffing/dressing

Since you can’t turn to admittedly-terrifying bags of stuffing mix, you’ll want a sturdy white bread that won’t fall to bits nor stay too stodgy. We suggest cubing Soluna’s La Boule or else what’s called französisches Landbrot, which is sold at many organic bakeries. Vacuum-packed chestnuts are easy to find in Berlin grocery stores and often more affordable than in the States, so they’re suited well as an addition to your stuffing.

The mashed potatoes

Look out for potatoes described as mehlig or mehligkochend (i.e. floury potatoes): they’re the best substitute for russets.

The pumpkin pie

You can find canned pumpkin at KaDeWe and Broken English. As a cheaper alternative, fresh pumpkins are available at most general supermarkets at this time of the year.

The sweet potatoes

If you want to make a sweet potato casserole, Süßkartoffel and marshmallows are sold in most grocery stores in the city.

The cranberry sauce

Cranberries can be found at most large grocery stores like Edeka and Kaufland, as well as most organic shops.

Harvest your own organic potatoes in Dahlem

For those of you who need a break from the (at times overwhelming) bustle of Berlin and want to reconnect with nature, be sure to visit Domäne Dahlem!

Domäne Dahlem is an organic farm in a historic country estate with a blacksmith shop and an open-air museum for agricultural and food culture. So if you’re at all interested in what organic farming in Germany looks like, this is the place to go!

Domäne Dahlem is an organic farm in a historic country estate with a blacksmith shop and an open-air museum for agricultural and food culture. So if you’re at all interested in what organic farming in Germany looks like, this is the place to go!

At their traditional potato festival, you can harvest organic potatoes from the field yourself. Both modern and historical potato varieties with different cooking properties and very different tastes and appearances are grown here. You can harvest the popular „Linda“ yourself as well as rarities, e.g. „Bamberger Hörnchen“ and „Blauer Schwede“.

Experience and discover selected stands with handicrafts and specialities, ecological delicacies with and without potatoes from their organic gastronomy, live music and lots of hands-on activities.

Where? Domäne Dahlem, Königin-Luise-Straße 49, 14195 Berlin
When? September 17 – September 18 2022 (10am-6pm)
Admission? €2,-

Best Prepaid SIM Cards in Germany

Welcome to Germany! To help you settle, you will want to have a local phone number and mobile internet available. For that, you have two options. Either you are getting a mobile contract that binds you for usually 24 months, or you can get a flexible and more affordable prepaid SIM card in Germany and choose the phone plan most suitable to you.

Make sure to only get a Prepaid option, do not commit to any long-term binding contracts!

Prepaid SIM cards offer the best value for money when it comes to mobile communication in Germany. To help you make a choice and not feel overwhelmed by the chaotic offer of mobile phone plans out there, we have selected the best prepaid SIM card in Germany.

Lidl Connect

Lidl Connect is the prepaid mobile offer from the big German supermarket LIDL. It uses the Vodafone network lines and offers LTE internet speed. Lidl offers different plans. Its basic Smart S plan was recently awarded as the best Prepaid Tariff by the renowned magazines CHIP and Connect. 

The Smart S plan offers unlimited phone calls and SMS within Germany and 3 GB LTE data. It costs 7,99 euros for 4 weeks. The biggest plan, Smart XL brings 12 GB data for 17,99. The card costs 9,99 euros; however, it comes with a balance of 10 euros. So basically, it is for free.

Once you activate your card, you can select the data plan you would like to choose on your Lidl online account. You can change the tariff whenever you want or add data packages when needed.

With Lidl, you can either manually wire money every 4 weeks to your account or activate an automatic recharge from your bank account or via Paypal of let’s say 10 euros, each time your balance drops below 10 euros.

Instead of ordering your SIM card online, we recommend to buy it at one of the many LIDLs across Berlin. Just ask for the LIDL Connect Starterpack at the counter.

Aldi Talk

! Please be aware that Aldi Talk is currently having technichal issues and the verification process is taking longer than usual !

Aldi Talk is the direct competitor of Lidl, not only in terms of the prepaid mobile phone offer but also with its core product, the supermarket. Aldi offers a very similar product as Lidl; however, the most significant difference is that Aldi uses the O2 network, which is the smallest network in Germany. The O2 reception in cities is excellent, whereas, if you spend a lot of time in rural areas, it is not a good choice for you. 

The Paket S plan offers unlimited calls and texts and 3 GB LTE data. It costs 7,99 euros for 4 weeks. The biggest plan, Paket L brings 12 GB data for 17,99. The card also costs 9,99 euros; however, it is preloaded with a balance of 10 euros. So it is basically free as well.

When you compare mobile phone contracts, those using O2 are always cheaper than those using Vodafone or Telekom. Therefore Aldi offers the same product for the same price on a weaker and cheaper network.

Once you activate your card, you can select the data plan you would like to choose on your Aldi account. You can change the plan online, whenever you want. 

With Aldi, you can also manually wire money every 4 weeks to your account or activate an automatic recharge of let’s say 10 euros each time your balance drops below 10 euros. 

Of course, you again have the option to buy a top-up balance card at an Aldi supermarket. You will find them at the cashier counter. 

Vodafone CallYa

The Vodafone Germany prepaid sim card packages are called CallYa and they offer the following data packages valid for 4 weeks. Vodafone Germany has a very advanced 4G/5G network and their prepaid sim card deals are by far the best. For €20 you get 15 GB data + unlimited calling and texting in all of Europe.

How To Activate Your Prepaid SIM Card?

Once you hold your card in hand, you need to activate it. Since July 2017, all prepaid SIM cards need to be registered in person or via VideoID, to prevent crime and misuse. 

You will need your official ID card or passport and a German home address to register. Online is the fastest way and only takes a few minutes. However, not all passports are supported online. Should your nationality not be valid for online identification, you can go to your closest post office.

Once you activated the card, you can choose the tariff you like and your preferred top-up method in your online account.

Queerness in Photography Exhibition at C/O Berlin

If you ever find yourself at S+U Zoologischer Garten, it’s worth stopping by C/O Berlin, an exhibition space for photography and visual media. Located right next to Amerika-Haus on Hardenbergstraße, the nonprofit organization focuses on presenting works by respected artists as well as supporting emerging talents, and welcomes everyone to discover contemporary visual culture. As a place to exchange new ideas, C/O Berlin organizes Artist Talks, Panel Discussions, Film Screenings and guided tours, offering visitors a place to exchange thoughts on the exhibition program and engage in current debates on visual culture. Their upcoming exhibtion Queerness in Photography (Sep 17, 2022 – Jan 18, 2023) examines the representation of identity, gender, and sexuality in photography in three complementary exhibitions.

If you happen to find time during your first week here in Berlin, there’s two more amazing artists being exhibited at c/o until Sep 07, 2022.

Susan Meiselas

The exhibition Susan Meiselas . Mediations is the first retrospective in Germany of the Magnum photographer’s over 50-year oeuvre—from her early portraits of neighbors to intimate shots of strippers to her iconic photographs from crisis and war zones.

Bieke Depoorter

In her solo exhibition A Chance Encounter, Bieke Depoorter presents Agata and Michael, two series that begin with chance encounters. Personal relationships with the people featured in her photographs, which were developed over the course of several years, significantly influence Depoorter’s artistic practice.

When? September 17 - January 18, 2023.
Where? C/O Berlin, Hardenbergstraße 22-24, 10623 Berlin

Berlin Art Week (Sep 14-Sep 18 2022)

Source: https://www.handelsblatt.com/images/galerie-koenig/25011532/2-format2020.jpg

As part of Berlin Art Week hundreds of galleries in Berlin will be presenting new artistic positions. This event has the intention to show how versatile Berlin’s art scene really is and how it always redefines itself. For the first time there will also be panel discussions with artists, collectors, gallery owners, museum directors and art lovers from all over the world. 

When? September 14 - September 18, 2022.
Where? At participating galleries all over Berlin.

Tips on how you make the most of your study abroad Berlin experience

Source: https://d3iso9mq9tb10q.cloudfront.net/magefan_blog/b/r/brandenburg-gate_banner_1.jpg
  • Put in real effort to learn German

With our intensive language classes you will naturally make quick progress, but don’t miss to put in some extra work outside the classroom. Force yourself to speak German when you are out and about in a restaurant, at the cash desk of a grocery store or at your favorite coffee shop. Obviously, this will not work right away, but you don’t have to form complete sentences on the spot, you can also just throw in some individual German words that you’ve learnt. Trying to communicate in German in the „real“ world will make you comfortable with the language vernacular and intricacies. Unfortunately, Berlin will make this extra difficult for you. Being an international hub, you’ll find people fluent in English on every corner of the city. Still, don’t give up. Learning a language always takes time and your efforts will be appreciated by the people you are talking to.

  • Stay on top of your course work

Do not forget that your classes are an important part of your studying abroad experience. There is obviously value in the act of living abroad by itself, but in the best case your classes allow you to grow in your believes, opinions and knowledge. Studying abroad can put a whole new perspective on familiar issues. Some tips on how to stay motivated for your course work can be found on our blog here. 

  • Don’t travel too much

Especially if you have never been to Europe before, it might be tempting to spend every weekend in a different city. Understandably, you want to make the most of your four months in Europe (so little time), but don’t let this take over your Berlin/Germany experience. You made Germany your home base, so go out and explore the country that you are calling your home for the next foreseeable time.

This issue is exactly what one of our former FU-BESTers experienced and here is what she had to say about it:

I wish that I had explored Germany more! I cannot emphasize enough how important it is to spend most weekends in Berlin. To truly live abroad for a semester, you need to learn your city and discover what it is like to be a true Berliner! I do feel like I spent a good deal of time in Berlin, but not enough throughout the rest of Germany. While I traveled to places like Paris and Rome, I missed Schloss Neuschwanstein and Hamburg. There are so many wonders located right in Germany a mere train ride away, and I wish I had been able to see them all during my time in Berlin; however, I have decided that I simply must go back and see everything that I missed.

  • Travel enough

Having said this, Berlin’s central location makes it perfect for a quick getaway to France, Italy or Spain and you should definitely take advantage of this. Just pick the destinations you are most desperate to see. This way you can still spend quality time in Berlin and will also keep your budget in check.

  • Go grocery shopping and buy what you usually would not buy at home

Maybe you are the adventurous shopper when it comes to food anyway, but if not, try to get out of your comfort zone. Can you spot food that you usually never buy at home? Now is the time to try stuff. Look for new German inspired recipes that are worth trying. Pinning down a traditional German food is hard, but we would confirm that Germans do like their potatoes. So we suggest trying this recipe.

  • Go cold turkey on Starbucks & Co

This goes along with our previous point about trying new things. You get accustomed best if you shop and eat locally. And although you will definitely find a Starbucks or McDonald’s easily, it is so much more fun to test local coffee shops (for example Five Elephant in Kreuzberg, which is also famous for the best cheese cake in town!) and local burger joints (for instance Kreuzburger in Kreuzberg and other locations).

  • Do not get sucked into the international bubble

This is an easy trap to fall in to. Since you are being surrounded by international fellow students all the time, you can easily get lost in your international bubble that might prevent you from having a true living abroad experience. You can find our attempt to give you a little ‚how to‘ (get out of the international bubble) on our blog here.

  • Get to know the Berlin way of life

Or better: get to know and be open to a new way of life that you will be living abroad that sometimes might be less comfortable than what you are used to. This sounds like an obvious given, but some students are still surprised by how much they need to adjust to their new environment.  For instance, a common complaint is the „commute issue“: most students in Berlin have a pretty long commute. One hour from door to door is nothing out of the ordinary. It is not ideal, but accepted by everyone. Living close to campus is not the reality for most students, since the vast majority prefers to live at more central districts. In Germany, and Berlin specifically, life does not happen on campus, but in the city itself. This might be different from how things are going at home, but don’t stress about your daily commute. Take it as an opportunity to ease in to and out of your day, read, listen to podcasts, observe Berliners, … .

  • Don’t stress yourself and have fun

We think it is a good idea to be aware of all of these points and also maybe implement one thing or the other in your daily life in Berlin. This being said, stressing about any of these issues would have quite the opposite effect. You have decided to study abroad, because you want to have an experience. This experience will most likely consist of both ups and downs, which is part of studying abroad. This lets us believe that the best tip of all is not to stress yourself out too much and go with the flow of living abroad.

Check out Berlin’s open-air cinemas

Source: https://www.visitberlin.de/system/files/image/Freiluftkino_Friedrichshain_c_Pfiffl%20Medien%20GmbH_DL_PPT_0.jpg

Summer in Berlin means many things. It is also the time for outdoor cinemas (in German ‚Freiluftkinos‘). The season is from May to September, which means all Fall FU-BESTers will defnitely be able to catch a movie under the starlit sky.

To make your life a little easier, we have put together a list of the best outdoor cinema opportunities in Berlin.

Berlin’s oldest open air cinema is tucked away behind the Kunstquatier Bethanien, which makes for a very special atmosphere. The pro tip is to buy tickets beforehand online and come early, so that you can grab one of the sun loungers available and safe yourself the perfect spot on the grass in front of the screen. If you snooze, you will lose. So don’t be late. Most movies that are shown are originals.

Where: Mariannenpl. 2, 10997 Berlin

This one is located in Volkspark with bench-style seating options. If you prefer to spread out, you can bring a blanket and sit on the grass. They mostly show dubbed movies, so pay attention to their program.

Where:  Landsberger Allee 15, 10249 Berlin

Rehberge is a lovely park in Wedding, which provides a very peaceful location for watching a movie. Probablyt the only thing you will hear whilst watching the movie will be the whistling of the trees around you. They have seats available for up to 1500 people. Again, pay special attention to their program to see which films are in English or German.

Where: Windhuker Str., 13351 Berlin

This is by far the open-air cinema with the most urban feel setting in this list. It is not as intimate as some of the other suggestions, but for those who want an opulent city view to come with their movie experience it is perfect. From indie films to blockbusters, this cinema shows originals with German subtitles.

Where: Matthäikirchplatz 4, 10785 Berlin

Going back to a more cosy cinema experience, Freiluftkino Hasenheide comes to mind.  It’s a charming open-air space with a sizable screen. The bench style seats can be a little hard on the bum though, so you might wanna bring your own blankets or cushion.

Landsberger Allee 15, 10249 Berlin

Last but not least, here is a tip for a free cinema experience. The Kulturfabrik, which usually serves as a concert hall, music venue, art house theatre, to name but a few things that are happening here, hosts free open-air movies in the courtyard, on Fridays and Saturdays at 10pm. Most of the films shown are in German.

Lehrter Str. 35, 10557 Berlin

Gereral-open-air-cinema-advice: Do not make the rooky mistake and be fooled by the warm weather. After the sun goes down it still gets pretty chilly, especially when you are sitting. Bring layers!

The Icelandic Burger Joint in Berlin

It’s easily one of the most iconic meals in the United States of America – the hamburger. And if you’re looking for a taste of home during your stay, Berlin has you covered. There are, in some districts quite literally, burger joints around every corner. Many of these places serve you puns with their buns, with names like Burgermeister or Burgeramt. However, my favorite burger place in Berlin has a more straightforward name: Tommi’s Burger Joint.

https://www.facebook.com/TommisBurgerJointKudamm/photos/a.1849987958568168/1893862804180683

Tommi’s doesn’t reinvent the wheel – and it doesn’t have to. Their burgers may be somewhat basic, but the ingredients are high-end, and so is the taste. In addition, they also have very solid vegan and vegetarian options. Originally from Iceland, Tommi’s has now become an international phenomenon, with three stores in Berlin alone. One can be found at the Kurfürstendamm (Kurfürstendamm 212), one in Mitte (Invalidenstraße 160), and one near Boxhagener Platz (Gabriel-Max-Straße 17).

Tommi’s at Kudamm (https://www.facebook.com/BurgerjointDE/photos/a.611330555593799/3200186550041507/)

Their burgers may not be exactly cheap, but they are well worth the money. They also offer a large variety of condiments for everyone to use for no extra charge. And if you go there on a Tuesday, you’re in for an extra treat. On Tommi’s Tuesdays, you can get a whopping four euros off their Offer of the Century (i.e. burger, fries, and a soft drink).

https://www.facebook.com/BurgerjointDE/posts/4710788258981321

Oh, and there’s also Tommi’s Playlist, which they play in their stores. It slaps. You can check it out here:

But for the real experience, you should go to one of their locations yourself while you’re in Berlin. You won’t regret it!

Get cosy at Kuschlowski

Those that are scared of huge menus will have a blast at Kuschlowski. Their Russian inspired vegan menu is small, the food quality, however, superb. We suggest coming here early for dinner, because the later it gets, the more this place transforms into a crowded, music blasting, bar. Having reached this point, it is time to familiarize yourself with their excellent drinks selection. Seasonal selling points for this place include the warming oven during the winter months and a cosy terrace in summer.

Where? Weserstr. 202, 12047 Berlin, Neukölln
Opening Hours: Sunday, Tuesday-Thursday 6pm-3am, Monday 00am-3am,  Friday-Saturday 6pm-5am