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Insider tips in Berlin

Even true original Berliners can still discover something new in our city every day – the choice of fascinating sights, charming neighborhoods or beautiful nature is simply too great. That’s why we reached out to our colleagues and present to you – Berlin’s best kept secrets!

Futurium:

Source: https://enorm-magazin.de/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/Futurium-in-Berlin.jpg

The Futurium lables itself the „house of futures“. Here, everything revolves around the question: How do we want to live? Visitors can discover many possible futures in the exhibition, discuss them together in the forum and try out their own ideas in the Futurium Lab – all free of charge.

Berliner Unterwelten:

Source: https://www.berliner-unterwelten.de/fileadmin/user_upload/berlinerunterwelten/Slides/Fuehrungen_Tour_M_Bild_20-Holger_Happel_web_cr.jpg

The association „Berlin’s Underworlds“ explores, documents, and maintains underground facilities in Berlin. They offer various guided tours to places normally out of sight, including bunkers and metro tunnels.

Britzer Garten:

Source: Pressefotos vom Britzer Garten

Neukölln isn’t necessarily know for its well kept green spaces – but Britzer Garden doesn’t fit that image at all. This park is a true green treasure off the beaten track.

Bergmannkiez:

Source: https://www.qiez.de/app/uploads/2018/05/caf-zigarrenladen-und-altbauten-in-der-bergmannstrasse-in-kreuzberg-der-bergmannkiez-in-kreuzberg.jpeg

The Bergmannstraße in Kreuzberg is one of Berlin’s most beloved streets for shopping, eating, drinking, and trulyexperiencing what Berlin is all about. It’s surrounding kiez (small neighbourhood) is home to endless restaurants, locally-owned shops and picturesque corners.

Botanischer Garten:

Source: https://www.in-berlin-brandenburg.com/Freizeit/Ausflugstipps/Parkanlagen/Botanischer-Garten/Bilder/Botanischer-Garten-g.jpg

The Berlin Botanical Garden and Museum is home to more than 22,000 different plant species. You can go on a trip from Alpine vegetation to the tropics – all that just a few kilometers away from our campus in Steglitz.

Liepnitzsee:

Source: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/c/c7/19-09-28-Wandlitz-0865-0873.jpg/1200px-19-09-28-Wandlitz-0865-0873.jpg

The Liepnitzsee, just outside of Berlin’s border in Brandenburg, prides itself on being one of the cleanest and clearest lakes in the region. Even outside of summer, this is an amazing getaway from the big city.

Pfaueninsel:

https://www.berlin.de/binaries/asset/image_assets/6285178/source/1646398788/624×468/

The Pfaueninsel „peacock island“ is located in the river Havel and is part of the UNESCO palaces and parks of Potsdam and Berlin. It’s a car free nature reserve, including many (you guessed it) trusting peacocks to feed.

Zenner Biergarten und Weingarten:

Source: https://media04.berliner-woche.de/article/2021/06/10/4/364614_XXL.jpg?1623317875

Zenner offers a modern take on a classic German beer garden, all in a beautiful spot in Treptower Park. Combine having a drink outside in the sun with strolling along the river or visiting the Sovjet memorial a few minutes away.

Café am Neuen See:

Source: https://media.cntraveler.com/photos/5b96e0962f11297e77971dd6/16:9/w_2560%2Cc_limit/Cafe%2525CC%252581-am-Neuen-See_07.13_77.jpg

Do you sometimes dream about what it would be like to study abroad not in Berlin but in Munich? The Café am Neuen See in the Tiergarten is probably the closest thing to an authentic Bavarian Biergarten in very much not-Bavarian Berlin (they also have really solid pizza).

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Welcome to FU-BEST’s Berlin

Berlin: Tipps für die hippste Stadt Deutschlands
Source: https://cdn.urlaubsguru.at/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/Berlin-Germany-Shutterstock-161067611-1920.jpg

Welcome 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.

Berlin in TV Series & Movies

🍿 Popcorn Emoji

 Although most of you guys will be leaving Berlin in a week or two, it doesn’t mean you have to stop immersing yourself in the city. We’ve compiled a list of some great movies and tv shows set in Berlin. These are a great way to continue practicing your german and keep Berllin in your hearts, even when you’re hundreds of miles away!

TV SERIES

  • 4 Blocks
4 Blocks ist die beste deutsche Serie seit langem

4 Blocks is the German answer to every American gangster movie and series. The drama series delves into the dark world of organized crime, family feuds and gang violence in Berlin-Neukölln. It stars all different well-known German actors. Watching this TV Show is a good way to polish up your gangster German. Be aware, 4 Blocks has a high potential for addiction!

Where you can watch it: Amazon Prime, for purchase on Youtube and Apple TV

Seasons: Three seasons 

  • Babylon Berlin
Babylon Berlin": Die 3. Staffel im Schnellcheck - DER SPIEGEL

Babylon Berlin is the most exciting and expensive German TV production to date. The popular show continues to make headlines across the globe, with its almost €40 million budget, stunning costume design, and renowned directors Tykwer, Achim von Borries, and Henk Handloegten. The first two seasons are based on the crime novel The Wet Fish by Volker Kutscher, which follows the lives of the main characters, played by Volker Bruch and Liv Lisa Fries, through Berlin in the late-1920s.

Where you can watch it: Free online stream from Das Erste here

Seasons: Four seasons

  • Dark
Dark“ auf Netflix: Das hat das Ende der 3. Staffel zu bedeuten

Dark– Netflix’s first German series has been a huge success. Without giving too much away, it begins with the disappearance of a child, leading four families to start a desperate search for answers to a mystery that impacts three generations. A mix between science-fiction, thriller, mystery, and drama, some people have called Dark the German Stranger Things. The oftentimes colloquial language is a perfect way to improve your German skills while simply lying in bed or on the couch!

Where you can watch it: Netflix

Seasons: Three Seasons

  • Kleo

Kleo revolves around a former east german Stasi assassin (Kleo) who is set free after the fall of the Berlin Wall. Kleo is determined to find out why she was locked up in East Germany, and take revenge on those who betrayed her. This highly stylized series is filled with the bright colors of the 80s and 90s, while also featuring funny supporting characters – such as the techno-loving West Berliner Thilo, who moves into Kleo’s apartment. Watch the first season now so you’re ready for the season 2 release coming in 2024!

Where you can watch it: Netflix

Seasons: One Season, with a second one coming out soon

  • Türkisch für Anfänger

Türkisch für Anfänger follows a German teenage girl and her new patchwork family. When Lena’s mom marries a Turkish man with two children, the two families are forced to overcome their cultural differences and get along with eachother. Filmed from 2006-2008, the series follows the characters as they grapple with teenage life in Berlin. This funny and heartfelt series is perfect for casual watching, and is a great way to practice your German.  

Where you can watch it: Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Youtube (with subscription); for purchase on Apple TV

Seasons: Three

  • Unorthodox

Unlike the other shows on this list, Unorthodox is not primarily in German. However, it is still an amazing show worth watching. It follows the journey of a Jewish woman living in an Ultra-Orthodox community in Brooklyn, who chooses to secretly run away to Berlin. Once in Berlin, she does her best to navigate a new, secular world, and discover who she is without her community. This 4 episode mini-series is a great watch, and is the first Netflix show to be filmed primarily in Yiddish!

Where you can watch it: Netflix

Seasons: One

MOVIES

  • Victoria (2015)
Victoria - Film 2015 - FILMSTARTS.de

Not quite light fare, but equally good, is Victoriaa film that was shot in one single continuous take. Two hours and eighteen minutes – shot from about 4:30 AM to 7:00 AM on 27 April 2014 in the Kreuzberg and Mitte neighborhoods. No cuts. The script consisted of twelve pages, with most of the dialogue being improvised. It draws you in with the typical boy meets girl storyline, until everything gets out of control. Very capturing from the first minute.

Where to watch: For purchase on Apple TV, Amazon, and Youtube

  • B Movie: Lust & Sound in West Berlin (1979-1989)  (2015)
B-Movie: Lust & Sound in West-Berlin 1979-1989 | Trailer Original / Deutsch  | Film | critic.de

A compilation of mostly unreleased film and television footage, B-Movie documents the West Berlin sub and pop cultures that emerged in the decade before the fall of the Wall. The film is narrated by Mark Reeder, a Mancunian musician and producer, who shares his experience of Berlin when he began living there in 1978, and it tells a tale of an illusive and mysterious city that, in reality, no longer exists. Featuring notorious figures of the time like Blixa Bargeld and Nick Cave, B-Movie harnesses a strange nostalgia for a city that could only exist then; the creation, the art and the attitudes that emerged from the pain of a divided city.

Where to watch: Amazon Prime and Youtube (with Subscription)

  • Oh Boy – US title A coffee in Berlin (2012)
Debütfilm Oh Boy: Tom Schilling driftet durch Berlin - DER SPIEGEL

Oh Boy (a black and white tragic comedy) tells the story of Niko, a Berliner in his late twenties, who dropped out of university and since then has been drifting through his days, wondering about the people around him. The film has won several German and European Film Awards.

Where to watch: Netflix, for purchase on Youtube

  • The Lives of Others (2006)
The Lives Of Others / Das Leben der Anderen - Film - European Film Awards

Set in 1983 in East Berlin, The Lives of Others tells the story of a playwright, Georg Dreyman, living in the occupied and monitored city. Capturing the isolation and fear that George feels, it is tale told with inescapable resonance, showing the extremity of the spying and interference within a state under watch. The people who are spying on him become intertwined in his life, and this extraordinary film offers a poignant and paranoid picture of life in East Berlin. Acclaimed for its factual and aesthetic accuracy, the film won the Oscar for Best Foreign Language film.

Where to watch: Netflix, for purchase on Amazon and Youtube

  • Goodbye Lenin (2003)
Good Bye, Lenin! - Wikipedia

A film about Alex, a young man from East Berlin, whose mother is put into a coma during the lead to the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 and then wakes up in a reunified Germany. However, doctors tell Alex that the potential shock of such a revelation could give her a heart attack, so she must not be told of what has happened. As a result, Alex and his friends have to recreate the illusion of the GDR in his mother’s apartment for her, while outside, the two former countries are unifying.

Where to watch: Netflix, Amazon Prime, Disney+

  • Berlin Alexanderplatz (2020)
Regisseur Qurbani über "Berlin Alexanderplatz" - "Das erste, was jemand auf  der Flucht verliert, ist die Würde" | deutschlandfunkkultur.de

This 2020 film drama is based on one of the most famous novels written about Germany’s capital city: „Berlin Alexanderplatz“ by Alfred Döblin. While the novel is set in between the two World Wars, the 2020 film adoption transposes the storyline to our days with an undocumented immigrant from West Africa in the central role. The film, spanning almost 3 hours, offers you a vivid, colorful and captivating insight into topics such as racism, love and psychology.

Where to watch: For purchase on Apple TV, Amazon, and Youtube

  • Run Lola Run (1998)
Amazon.de: Lola rennt ansehen | Prime Video

This iconic film depicts three alternative realities as the title character, Lola, runs to try and obtain 100,000 Deutsche Mark in 20 minutes to save her boyfriend, Manni, from being killed for failing to make good on a deal. The film does not feature many famous landmarks of Berlin, but shows an intersection of every day 90s Berlin, though Berlin’s best-looking bridge, Oberbaumbrücke. It has won several German and International Film Awards.

Where to watch: Amazon Prime and Youtube (with Subscription)

Happy watching!

Picture Sources: https://emojipedia-us.s3.amazonaws.com/source/skype/289/popcorn_1f37f.png ; https://cdn.sputnik.de/sendungen/popkult/four-blocks-100_v-variantBig16x9_wm-true_zc-ecbbafc6.jpg?version=42931 ; https://cdn.prod.www.spiegel.de/images/c88543e3-26f2-4def-b61c-7c630669a3ce_w1200_r1_fpx43.52_fpy49.98.jpg ; https://www.tz.de/bilder/2020/06/30/13816245/1906606865-viele-zuschauer-verwirrte-handlung-serie-dark-2zYMO9zM9vfe.jpg; https://www.netflix.com/de/title/81216677; https://www.tvmovie.de/news/tuerkisch-fuer-anfaenger-fortsetzung-josefine-preuss-aeuessert-sich-95993; https://www.netflix.com/de/title/81019069; https://de.web.img2.acsta.net/pictures/15/03/12/12/44/563954.jpg ; https://www.critic.de/fileadmin/Images/2015/05/B-Movie_03.jpg ; https://cdn.prod.www.spiegel.de/images/662aa3ae-0001-0004-0000-000000417619_w1600_r1.4141129032258064_fpx45.26_fpy50.jpg ; https://imgtoolkit.culturebase.org/?color=FFFFFF&quality=8&ar_ratio=1.3&format=jpg&file=https%3A%2F%2Fimg.culturebase.org%2F5%2F3%2F8%2Ff%2Ff%2Fpic_1527079018_538ff92e676e94d639bd1a866dc22d9a.jpeg&do=cropOut&width=1200&height=585 ; https://assets.deutschlandfunk.de/FILE_d8e17b9c138bb9d1fee843b015037d1c/1280×720.jpg?t=1597628947256 ; https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/S/pv-target-images/e03ae3088f6891583737642f557536fdc595cb13200538acb4844607245301f8.RI.png

Thanksgiving in Berlin

On the fourth Thursday of November, people in the United States celebrate Thanksgiving – probably the biggest national holiday. As an American living abroad, you might be missing the usual holiday festivities around this time. Thankfully, there are a lot of American expats that brought the tradition to Berlin with them. Here are 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!

Enjoying Thanksgiving with the help of a restaurant…

P.S. If you plan on visiting one of these restaurants during thanksgiving, make sure to make a reservation ahead of time – spots can fill up quick!

1. Estelle

If you’re willing to splurge on a Thanksgiving meal, check out Estelle in Prenzlauer Berg. While Estelle usually serves up pizza and small plates, on Thursday the 23rd and Friday the 24th they will be serving up a delicious multi-course meal for 58 € per person.

2. Masha’s Bagels and Delicatessen

Every year, Masha’s Bagels hosts a traditional U.S. Thanksgiving on Thursday, November 23rd. They have seatings at 5 PM and 8 PM, and their feast is hosted family-style on long tables to make you feel at home. For dine-in, the three course meal costs 42€ per person, and for takeaway, the cost is 34€ per person.

3. Hard Rock Café

For a more affordable thanksgiving meal, check out Hard Rock Café, which serves a 2 course meal on the 23rd, the 24th, and the 25th. For 29.95€ , you can get an entrée with all the thanksgiving staples (turkey, stuffing, etc) and a slice of classic pumpkin pie.

4. 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:

  • Kaufland, several locations across Berlin: In this huge grocery store you can often find frozen turkeys in the meat section. Expect to pay between 8-10 Euros per kg of turkey.
  • Rogacki, Wilmersdorfer Str.145/46, Charlottenburg: At this traditional delicatessen in Charlottenburg, you should be able to find a turkey. Rogacki may have turkeys in stock, but it is recommended to place an order ahead. Open: Tue-Th 10am-6pm, Fr 9am-6pm, Sat 8am-2pm, Tel. 030 3438250
  • Kaufhauf des Westens (KaDeWe), Tauentzienstraße 21, Schöneberg: This famed department store also has a delicatessen, along with plenty of other international food options that make it the perfect place to pick up your thanksgiving essentials. Open: Wed-Sat 10am-8pm, Mon-Tue 10am-8pm, Tel. 030 21210 (poultry counter)
  • Fleischerei Domke, Warschauer Str. 64, Friedrichshain: 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 hearty vegan lentil loaf is packed with healthy ingredients and holiday flavors. It’s even gluten-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.

Staying in Berlin over Break? Here are some places to check out

You’ve made it through Exam Week! Yay!

Now it’s time to rest and enjoy 10 days in Berlin with no (or very few) responsibilities. Although the weather is getting a little colder and the days are getting a little shorter, there’s still countless things to do in the city.

Cozying up in a Bookstore

As winter approaches, one of my favorite ways to escape the cold is to enter a cozy bookshop. Whether you want to buy a new book, just look around, or curl up in a corner and read, Berlin has no shortage of great bookstores (with lots of English books too!).

Free stock photos by Vecteezy

One of my favorites is Dussman, located right in Berlin Mitte on Freidrichstraße. This store is truly enormous, and refers to itself not just as a bookstore, but as a “Kulturkaufhaus.“ In addition to books, you can find vinyls, music merch, Berlin souvenirs, fancy office supplies, free bathrooms, and much more. Unlike many German stores, this shop is open until midnight (Saturdays until 23:30), to allow for all the book-shopping your heart desires.

Image by Freepik

Other bookstores that are definitely worth a trip are St. Georges (an incredible second hand English bookstore in Prenzlauer Berg), Shakespeare and Sons (an independent English bookstore with a bagel café inside), and She said (a bookstore/Café dedicated to queer and women authors)

Free Stock photos by Vecteezy

Free Galleries and Exhibitions

There’s nothing I love more than a free activity! Thankfully, Berlin offers many (especially if you’re a student). With your Student ID and your museum card you have ample chances to explore all the culture that Berlin has to offer, without spending any money.

If I had a free week in Berlin, here are some exhibits that I’d visit

In Ethylene Arms – König Galerie

This is Zsófia Keresztes’ first solo exhibition. Her work consists of large colorful mosaic sculptures that immediately catch the viewers eyes. The exhibit has many themes, but among them is the sweet gas that is released from rotting fruit – ethylene—that causes surrounding fruit to rot as well.

Secessions: Klimt, Stuck, Lieberman – Alte Nationalgalerie

This exhibit was originally meant to end in October, but due to popular demand was extended until November 5th, 2023. This exhibit is dedicated to Gustav Klimt (from Vienna), Franz von Stuck (from Munich) and Max Liebermann (from Berlin). These artists took part in the Secession movements during the end of 19th century, which revolutionized the strict structures of the art world through its emphasis on artistic individuality.

After you’ve enjoyed a free day at an exhibit, use your saved money to treat yourself to a yummy drink somewhere 😊

Enjoying the Outdoors (even in Winter)

Grab something to eat and drink at the Holzmarkt!

Holzmarkt 25 is a small area located along the Spree that has a club, an event venue, restaurants, bars, small shops, and more. This is the perfect place to grab a drink with friends and enjoy the view of the Spree. The Holzmarkt project began in 2012 with just a few tents, but in past few years it has transformed into a popular Berlin destination.

Free Stock photos by Vecteezy

Hang out at Thaipark

If you’ve eaten one too many Döner Kebabs and are craving something new, then Thaipark is the perfect place to visit. Thaipark, like its name suggests, is a park with an open air Thai food market. The Thai food market is open Fridays-Sundays 10 am to 8 pm from April to October (so this may be your last chance!). With 60 Food stalls to choose from, there is no getting bored of the food here. You should come here with a large appetite, and also some cash, as many stalls do not take card.

Spicy Pad Thai from the Thai Park

Go to a Flea Market!

Berlin’s flea markets are world renowned, and I’m sure many of you have visited a few already, but there are always new flea market finds to be made. Personally, I will be spending my next free days scouring the flea markets for the perfect fall appropriate leather jacket. It can be hard to pick which flea market you want to visit, but I’ve written down a few that I think are worth checking out.

The Nowkoelln Fleamarket is located on the border between Neukölln and Kreuzberg, and sells everything from trendy clothes to snacks and drinks. This fleamarket is only open ever second Sunday, so be sure to check the date before you go!

Image by Freepik

The Flea Market in Boxhagener Platz is also impressive, especially if you’re looking for unique antiques. This Fleamarket takes place every Sunday, and is surrounded by small cafes and restaurant you can visit once you’re done shopping.

Image by Freepik

Other fleamarkets worth a visit include the Trödelmarkt Marheinekeplatz in Kreuzberg,  the antique and book market at the Bode Musuem, and the Flea Market at Rathaus Schöneberg

Regardless of wether you stay in Berlin or travel somewhere new, I know you will have an amazing week, full of new sights and experiences. Don’t forget to take sometime to relax and wind down – you deserve it!

Your First Visit to Berlin

Now that you have settled in and gotten a first impression of the FU-BEST Program as well as Berlin as a city, hopefully gotten to know your class mates a bit and survived your busy first week, it is time to venture out and get to know Berlin in all of its glory and diversity.

In order for you to easily find things to do and learn about the must visits in Berlin, we have compiled a list of important and interesting places in Berlin which you can visit this weekend (or later down the line).

Now, Berlin is huge and there are thousands upon thousands of other places and events to explore. I’m sure we could fill an entire term with impressive architecture, arts, museums, etc., but since you will have to start somewhere, these are our recommendations:

The Brandenburg Gate

The Brandenburg Gate at the heart of Berlin

The epic Brandenburg Gate is the first sight people think of when hearing about Berlin. Serving as the main gate for the ‚Straße des 17. Juni‘ which is a broad avenue leading directly to the Siegessäule (The Victory Column), an important national monument celebrating the ‚Einigungskriege‘ (Unity Wars) which took place from 1864 – 1871.
We recommend visiting the Victory Column as well since you can tour the inside and take a nice walk through the ‚Großer Tiergarten‘ (the big animal garden), after which you can have a nice beverage in the ‚Café am Neuen See‘.

The Brandenburg Gate itself is located right next to several embassies such as the American, English, French and not too far away – the Russian embassy. At the center of the Pariser Platz (displayed on the picture), various (political) demonstrations take place almost around the clock.
My personal favorite is visiting the gate towards dusk since the composition of clouds behind the gate is different every day and looks simply incredible.

We can also highly recommend getting bikes and touring the city that way.


The Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe

The Memorial to the Murdered Jews in Europe

Berlin is a fun and exciting city.

But underneath that fun and diversity are various dark chapters, oppression and a genocide. It is important to be mindful – not only of the various memorials you can find all over the city, but in particular with this one.

Germans, and as a matter of fact, us as citizens of the world should never forget the atrocities that took place in Germany during the Nazi regime and as globalized citizens, we all carry the responsibility to understand that something like the Holocaust should never happen again.
As you might find out in some FU-BEST courses, genocides are comparable, however, this type of industrialized eradication of human beings has never happened on the same scale and the Memorial to the Murdered Jews in Europe will give you that impression while walking through it.

The design is specifically meant to make you feel small and irrelevant. It is supposed to scare you and send shivers down your spine to bring across the emotional helplessness of the time.

I sincerely recommend both visiting the memorial and also taking a few minutes to really take in this feeling and pay respects to the victims of the Nazis‘ hatred.

Please make sure to be respectful and not climb any of the stones.


Alexanderplatz, the Fernsehturm and the World Clock

Alexanderplatz, the Fernsehturm and the World Clock

One of the signature buildings installed in formerly Soviet-occupied cities were the enormous television towers used to broadcast domestic state media.
This is how the Berlin Alexanderturm came to be.

Located in the center of East Berlin on the Alexanderplatz, it has been an important monument ever since the Cold War and naturally lots of infrastructure developed around it. There are several malls, restaurants, bars and public transport as well as the ‚Rotes Rathaus‘ right around the corner.

In addition, it is always fun to visit the World Clock to find your own country or city and get a spacial and visual understanding for time.
Furthermore, there are various events and flea markets every other weekend, so it is always fun to be surprised by ther buzzing city life.


Museum Island and the Berlin Dom

The Berlin Dom and Museum Island

By now, you are likely tired of hearing how broad Berlin’s cultural landscape is. Nonetheless, Museum Island around the Berlin Dom is an essential place to get an idea about how Berlin became the city it is today.

Since you all received a free pass to all state museums in Berlin, we can but recommend planning a whole day or even several days exploring these exceptional museums, the grand architecture (highly influenced by Karl Friedrich Schinkel) which has gone through several eras from epic to renaissance-type buildings and, of course, the Berlin Dom itself.

Located next to the famous ‚Lustgarden‘ (garden of lust), the Dom is the biggest evangelical church in Germany and can be toured both inside and on top of the roof. Although Berlin is by far the least religious city in Germany, it goes to show how big of an influence the German church has had.

Either way, the whole area along the Spree is simply beautiful and it is absolulety worth it planning to visit the Berlin Dom.


East Side Gallery

The East Side Gallery, also formerly known as the Berlin Wall

One of the most significant modern historical remnants of the Cold War is – without a doubt – the Berlin wall.

As you probably already know or will find out in many of our classes, West Germany was the Allies‘ „bulwark“ against the Soviet Union after World War II. No matter how you think about world politics, the wall which is now adorned with several graffitis and art works, displays the main theme of our university: freedom.

Freedom of thought, freedom of mobility and freedom of information are some of the most important values in most western constitutions and democracies and the innate desire of people was on full display when the wall came down on November 9th, 1989.

As former German President Horst Köhler said: „The wall was an edifice of fear. On November 9th, it became a place of joy“.
More than 33 years later, this still holds true and as a living piece of history, the East Side Gallery serves as a reminder that walls will always create tension, hatred and limit personal freedoms.

A must visit during your term in Berlin.


The Reichstag Building

The Reichstag Building housing the German parliament

While most of you have already seen and toured the Reichstag Building, we figured it still deserves a spot on this list. Not only has this building been the focal point to many historical events (both good and bad) throughout the several regimes Berlin has been through, but you can also visit the plenary halls and even listen in on some policy-making in the process by registering for a tour here.
Additionally, if your friends or family come to visit, this is an excellent place to show off the political heart of Germany and the many facets Berlin has to offer.


Honorable Mention – Silent Picture

Stummfilm Festival Babylon Berlin

As it turns out, your visit is beginning at the start of the Stummfilm Festival (Silent Picture Festival) in Berlin at the Babylon Cinema.

Given that some of you do not yet speak German well (yet), FU-BESTers have traditionally been to Silent Picture screenings and have only given us positive Feedback about their experiences.

It is certainly worth checking out and the Festival started on August 31st and will go on until September 10, so you have enough time to find a fitting time slot. For those who are taking the „German Cinema before 1945“ course with Dr. Stiasny, this is a must-visit!

You can book the screenings here.


For more information, feel free to email us, come to the office or refer to previous Blog entries such as this.

I sincerely hope you found some interesting sights and are able to enjoy your first couple of weeks in Berlin!

And remember: no matter what you do, what counts in the end is who you did it with! So don’t be shy and ask your fellow FU-BESTers to join you on your Berlin adventures and create some unforgettable memories together!

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

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Put in real effort to learn German

40 basic German phrases and sentences you should knowWith 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:

What makes Germans so orderly? - BBC Travel

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).

Berlin: Inside Five Elephant's New Mitte Cafe

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.

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A little Japan in Best Friends Berlin

Grilled tuna with vegetables and rice.
Udon carbonara with mushrooms

If you want to add a little color to your dinner, we recommend to check out Best Friends Berlin (formerly called ‚Little Long‘, meaning Small Dragon) in Kreuzberg, a modern Japanese restaurant that combines traditional Japanese flavours with a western touch and a very colorful interior (all paintings you find in the restaurant are hand-painted by the owner). If you are only a small group, reservations are not necessary (provided that you come early; between 6pm and 7pm). We recommend to start your evening with different starters (Kimchi and Edamame are always a good idea), and proceed with one of their main dishes (the grilled tuna can be very much recommended. For the full menu see their website here). Finally, if you still have room for desert, we have to warn you: you need to be a fan of Matcha, because there is no way around it when it comes to their desert.

Where: Wiener Str. 60, 10999 Berlin
Opening Hours: Monday-Sunday noon-midnight
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Do your weekly grocery shopping at the turkish market at Maybachufer

Wochenmarkt am Maybachufer: Der Türkenmarkt | BERLIN ICK LIEBE DIR
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Why not ditch your local supermarket that is only five minutes from your house and go on a shopping adventure to the Turkish market in Kreuzberg/Neukölln (even if not for your weekly grocery shopping, then at least for the experience). The Turkish market at Maybachufer is a mix of stalls selling a variety of different things, from household items to fabrics, to books, and of course, lots of, lots of food (including cooked lunch options). Most of the fruit and vegetable is unbelievably cheap in comparision to normal supermarkets. We remember times, where former roommates used to come home with 10 mangos for only 5€ (noone can eat this many mango though). It can get a little crowded, once local shoppers and curious tourists are all heading down the rather narrow path between the stalls. However, this just gives you the time to slow down your pace and immerse yourself into the numerous food options.

Ein Stück Orient mitten in Berlin « Irgendwo – Nirgendwo
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Where? Turkish Market, Maybachufer, 12047 Berlin
When? Every Tuesday and Friday from 11am - 5:30pm

lgbtq+ Neighborhoods in Berlin

Datei:LGBTQ+ rainbow flag Quasar "Progress" variant.svg – Wikipedia

As Berlin is unofficially known as Europe’s gay capital, we would like to take the opportunity and give you a little overview of Berlin’s most gay friendly districts (obviously in no way is this a complete list). The neighborhoods featured have a rich density of queer bars and clubs and convey a general feeling of inclusiveness.

S c h ö n e b e r g

When the city was divided into East and West Berlin, the Schöneberg district slowly began to develop a vibrant gay and lesbian community. As the wall came down in 1989, Schöneberg’s queer community continued to grow. Today it is known for being Berlin’s most gay-friendly district and is considered the traditional center for gay culture in Berlin. Along Fuggerstrasse, there are dozens of clubs, pubs, restaurants and all manner of other businesses catering to the queer community. A hot spot for gay culture is also Schöneberg’s Motzstraße. For a more extensive list on queer pubs and clubs in Schöneberg see a map here.

Schöneberg’s queer set up also makes it a very fitting location for Berlin’s Schwules Museum* (Gay Museum), which moved from Kreuzberg to Schöneberg’s Lützowstraße a couple of years ago.  The museum presents a number of regularly changing exhibitions on everything queer. It also organizes talks, lectures and get-togethers evolving around gay culture. And! If you like to get a little bit of reading in on the topic of gay culture, their library consists of more than 20,000 volumes covering all areas of scientific inquiry from humanities, social science, sexology, fine arts and popular science. In this context it is also worth mentioning that in the last couple of years they have made a bigger effort to collect literature on female homosexuality, queer feminist theory and trans and inter experiences.

Where? Lützowstraße 73, 10785 Berlin
Opening Hours: Sun, Mon, Wed, Fri 2pm - 6 pm, Thu 2 pm - 8 pm,
Sat 2 pm - 7 pm, closed on Tuesdays
Approx. 15 minutes from the subway station Nollendorfplatz

K r e u z b e r g

The queer scene in Kreuzberg started as an alternative to the scene in Mitte. Although Kreuzberg’s queer culture has changed over the years, there are still a few staples to be found. One of them is Möbel Olfe, which is always incredibly crowded, but a real institution. It’s an old furniture store that has been remodeled into a bar with changing events and DJs. No chance for boredom.

Close to Kottbuser Tor at Mariannenstraße you find the women’s café Oya, which mostly caters to women, lesbians, trans, inter and queer individuals. This being said, all identities are welcome (except on Thursdays, which is reserved for wltiq). They offer vegan and vegetarian dishes for lunch, reasonably priced coffee for 1,80€ and drinks in the evening hours. Events at the café revolve around queer-feminist and anti-racist topics.

No chance for understatement provides Roses in Kreuzberg, where chairs and walls consist of fur fabric. The interior is a mixture of trashy and cheesy and definitely worth a visit.

At Mehringdamm you find the queer bar Rauschgold, which is also a good location for karaoke. What you’ll get at Rauschgold is a mixture of relaxing bar venue and alternative party location. Besides karaoke, they organize regular events, with a focus on drag shows (some shows are fee-based). Stay up to date with their event calendar or visit their Facebook page.

S c h w u Z  and  S i l v e r F u t u r e   i n  N e u k ö l l n

Neukölln is not necessarily known as a particularly gay district. This being said, a couple of years ago SchwuZ, one of Berlin’s favorite gay clubs, moved from its old location in Kreuzberg to its new and bigger one in Neukölln (close to the subway station Rathaus Neukölln). Besides having a bigger venue at hand, the decision to move was also a political one. The club’s move to the culturally very distinct Neukölln represents SchwuZ’s aim to combine different lifestyles and, as the owners state, „Neukölln’s exciting Kiez is an important catalyst for this.“

The bar SilverFuture located in Neukölln’s Reuterkiez could have easily been named PinkFuture, stemming from its interior. So get prepared for some serious pink and silver vibes.  The cosy queer bar is fully packed at peak times and features concerts, DJ sets and vernissages.

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,-

Picture Source: https://www.domaene-dahlem.de/wp-content/uploads/2022/08/DD_Kartoffelfest_Plakat-723×1024.jpg