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Welcome to FU-BEST’s Berlin

Welcome to our official FU-BEST blogroll! Here we share everything exciting in and around Berlin with our current FU-BESTers. Of course, everyone else, who is interested to get a glimpse into the perks of being a student in Berlin, is cordially invited 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.

Additionally, there will be a monthly FU-BEST Newsletter, where we keep you up to date on what’s happening right now.

FU-BEST Spring 2019 Newsletter #2

Highlight of the Month

TULIPAN Tulip Festival in Britzer Garten

As Berlin trades the grey of winter for a mix of blue skies, fluffy clouds, and April showers, you’ll be seeing daffodils, narcissus and tulips sprouting up around the city. If you find yourself admiring these little bursts of color, you’ll be blown away by the TULIPAN at one of Berlin’s most beautiful gardens – Britzer Garten. Originally designed as a staging ground for Germany’s biennial national garden show in 1985, Britzer Garten is an oasis of lakes, fields, and forests located in the southern part of Berlin. While beautiful all year long, Britzer Garten really gets dressed up for spring!

Tulips in Britzer Garten
Tulips in Britzer Garten

Enjoy strolling along the winding paths and stopping for cake and coffee as you admire this magnificent show. With Easter right around the corner you can also count on a bit of extra decoration, and maybe even a bunny or two!

Easter decoration and a rabbit in Britzer Garten

The park even has a small train to transport visitors around the garden. All aboard!

Britzer Garten Train

Britzer Garten
Where?
Mohriner Allee 152, 12347 Berlin
When? Tulips bloom April-May, Park open year-round
Opening Hours: 9am-8pm daily
Admission: 3,00€, Optional train ride: 5€ roundtrip (1€ per station)
https://gruen-berlin.de/britzer-garten

 

District Feature: Neukölln

If you are in the mood to experience the breadth of Berlin’s cultural diversity, you need look no further than Neukölln. In addition to being the most populous district of Berlin, Neukölln is also home to a high percentage of immigrants. As expected, this means you can count on an exceptional variety of international restaurants. You’ll be sure to find something new to try as you wander the bustling streets flanked with Syrian sweet shops, specialty Turkish groceries, fresh produce market stalls, funky cafes, and trendy pop up restaurants. Delve into a shopping experience that activates all of your senses, such as this spice store on Sonnenallee.

Tubs of spices

Neukölln has more to offer than just food, though. A few side streets away the from energetic and noisy Sonnenallee and Karl-Marx-Straße, you just might get the feeling that you’ve stepped back in time as you explore the charming and well preserved Bohemian village known as Rixdorf.

Private backyard in Rixdorf

Besides visiting the village’s museum, which chronicles the history and traditions of this small community founded by Bohemian refugees in 1737, you can wander the cobblestone streets and even explore some of the private courtyards during various community events throughout the year. Get in touch with your inner philosopher in the Comenius Garden, which is designed to reflect the philosophical teaching of the 17th century theologian and pedagogue Johann Amos Comenius.

If you are looking for something Bohemian in a different sense, you’ll find it just an U-Bahn station away, high above the rooftops at this free-spirited bar on top of the Neukölln Arkaden shopping mall.  Klunkerkranich is a mix of rooftop beer garden, concert venue, and urban garden. It is exactly the place you want to be on a sunny late afternoon, enjoying the beautiful Berlin skyline.

Klunkerkranich

If you’d rather spend your sunny afternoon sunbathing on grass with the locals, check out the lovely sunken gardens at Körner Park. Designed in the Neo-baroque style, the central lawn is flanked by an orangery with a café on one side and a cascading fountain on the other.

Körnerpark

And if your plans for a beautiful sunny afternoon get rained on, take cover around the corner from Körner Park at Pee Pee’s Katzencafé, Berlin’s first cat café.  This cosy little café is home to two adorable, cuddly kitties, Pelle and Caruso, and is a wonderful place to spend any afternoon, rain or shine. Especially if you are missing the comfort of animals back at home, Pelle will make sure you feel welcome and that you give him the attention he deserves.

Pelle at Pee Pees Katzencafé

Consider this a good opportunity to try one of German’s favorite summer drinks – coffee (or chocolate milk, if you prefer) with a scoop of ice cream. The “Eiskaffee” is an ingenious way to sneak ice cream into your afternoon coffee break, and is not to be confused with “Iced Coffee”, which is how German cafés refer to coffee with ice cubes, if that’s what you’re looking for.

Eiskaffee at Pee Pees Katzencafé

Great for relaxing, studying, or meeting with friends, Pee Pee’s Katzencafé has a delicious selection of sweet and savory treats, including vegan options. Pelle and Caruso are very well behaved, and will wait until you are done before investigating the remains of your Eiskaffee, cake, or veggie quiche.

Pelle (right) and Caruso (left) at Pee Pees Katzencafé

Addresses and Opening Hours:

Pee Pees Katzencafé
Where?
Thomasstraße 53, 12053 Berlin
Opening Hours: Tuesday-Friday, 10am-6pm, Saturday-Sunday, 12pm-6pm
http://peepeeskatzencafe.de/

Klunkerkranich
Where?
Karl-Marx-Straße 66, 12043 Berlin
Opening Hours: Monday-Sunday, 12pm- 2am
http://klunkerkranich.org/

Museum im Böhmischen Dorf
Where? Kirchgasse 5, 12043 Berlin
Opening Hours: Thursday, 2pm-5pm, first and third Sunday of the month, 12pm-2pm
http://www.museumimboehmischendorf.de/

 

Team Tip: March

„Notes of Berlin” –Web Blog & Instagram Account (Sabrina)

Notes of Berlin” is a tribute to all the funny, weird, random, cute or romantic notes that can be found all over Berlin every day. Some of those notes might warm your heart, others might cause you to shake your head with disbelief. This can be notes from angry neighbors, funny restaurant signs, weird requests, random tips or thoughts on life, … the list is endless.

Most of the notes are in German and are thus perfect to boost your range of vocabulary (“Notes of Berlin” is also on Instagram!)

To give you a little taste, here are four of my favorite ones:

Please have your kids in check: https://www.notesofberlin.com/doppelter-espresso-hundewelpen/
A desperate note to the police: https://www.notesofberlin.com/gute-klingel-von-nebenan/
Important letters go left: https://www.notesofberlin.com/liebesbriefe/
Break a thing, mend your luck: https://www.notesofberlin.com/scherben-bringen-gluck/

Vietnamese Tapas at „Phojito“ (Kristina)

Green Chicken Dim Sum

If you – like me – happen to love Asian food (which is, I well realize, a sweeping generalization for a billion different cuisines) and also like Tapas (bite-size yummy tastes of Spanish specialties), I have JUST the place for you where this is brilliantly fused together: “Phojito” Vietnamese tapas in Schöneberg. A small yet very welcoming restaurant (reservations highly recommended!), Phojito offers high quality and simply irresistibly tasty samples of modern Vietnamese cooking. Try the colourful “Green Chicken” Dim Sum, the “BBQ Balinese Prawns” or the “Duck’s Roll” (grilled duck with sauce rolled in a pancake). Of course, they also have veggie tapas, large dishes, delicious soup bowls and an array of home-made lemonades. Definitely a place to return to again and again and again…

Phojito’s
Where? Goltzstr. 34, 10781 Berlin, near U Nollendorfplatz
Tel: 015258787096
E-Mail: hello@phojito.de
Opening Hours: Mon – Sat 11.30am – 11.30pm, Sun & Holidays 12pm – 11.30pm
www.phojito.de

Baked Goods Heaven at “Barcomi’s”

Every now and then, I have that craving for great cakes, muffins, or anything else that ovens were truly invented for. Combined with great coffee – I’m in heaven! One of my favourite places for this is “Barcomi’s” café on Bergmannstraße in Kreuzberg. Cynthia Barcomi, an expat from New York, has created every cake-lovers dream place here and sells her delightful baked sins together with coffee from all over the world, freshly roasted on-site. It’s a small place (not to be confused with the bigger but also somewhat less cozy “Deli” spin-off in the Sophie-Gips-Höfen in Mitte) so prepare to squeeze in or wait a little, but here’s a partial list of why it’s worth it: New York Cheesecake, Devil’s Food Cake, Lemon Meringue Tarte, Cherry Choc Muffin, Classic Cream Scone, Raspberry Streusel Muffins, Brownie Marble Cheesecake, and Bagels without end. The insider’s tip: Have the „Probierteller“ (4 halves of cake pieces of your choice) and munch your way through the whole assortment…

Barcomi’s Café & Kaffeerösterei
Where? Bergmannstr. 21, 10961 Berlin, near U Gneisenaustr.
Tel.: 030 / 694 81 38
Opening Hours: Monday-Friday,  8am – 9pm, Saturday & Sunday, 9am – 9pm, Holidays 9am – 9pm
https://www.barcomis.de/barcomis-berlin

Get Active! (Dirk)

Maybe we can get the kids into jumping around a bit: https://www.sprungraum.de/berlin/

Or climbing around: https://www.waldhochseilgarten-jungfernheide.de/english.html

Or floating free: https://www.windobona.berlin/en/

Or we get them underneath the city: https://www.tip-berlin.de/die-besten-unterirdischen-orte-und-fuehrungen-in-berlin/

So… jumping, climbing, floating, or crawling…what else is there to offer?

Tips on how you might be able to leave your international bubble

Get off social media once in a while

Of course, it is important to stay connected to your family and friends, because they are curious about your life abroad and also want to make sure that you are okay. The good thing about social media is that we are so connected, sometimes we don’t even notice that we are away from our loved ones. This being said, when it takes us away from our life abroad too much, it can also become a problem. So, instead of liking pictures of the family dog every 5 seconds or be on a constant chat with your best friend at home, try to live more in the moment of your abroad experience.

 Join local sports classes

Sports is an excellent way to connect with all different sorts of people. The best way to get to know people fast are team sports, because you have to interact so much. The wide selection of sports classes that Freie Universität offers is a quick and comparatively cheap option to get active and meet fellow students from all different sorts of study fields. You do not have to rely on Freie Universität alone, but can also check out university sports classes at Humboldt Universität or Technische Universität Berlin. Another possibility is to take part in the numerous university sports events that are offered regularly by Freie Universität Berlin.

Go to a bar event

In a bar, it is obviously more likely to get to know people outside your „abroad cluster“, when you and your friends do not close yourselves off and reminisce about the great weekend you just had two weeks ago. To avoid the tendency of being exclusive, what about trying out a bar event, like a pub quiz or bingo night, which are generally more inclusive and you tend to get to know people more quickly. We recommend to check your favorite bar for events.

Or check out:

  • Bar Madame Claude (Kreuzberg), Lübbener Str. 19, 10997 Berlin – every Wednesday – no entry fee – Music Quiz “Guess the Song” (advantage: advanced German skills are not necessarily required). For updated program dates see their bar calendar.
  • Irish Pub Celtic Cottage (Steglitz), Markelstr. 13, 12163 Berlin – every Monday – 1€ entry fee – Irish Pub Quiz.
  • Bar Interface (Moabit), Perleberger Str. 17, 10559 Berlin – changing events.

Use meet up groups

Our modern world fortunately gives us the opportunity to connect with all different sorts of people with minimum effort and time constraints. In order to find likeminded people for all different sorts of activities and interests, you can take advantage of meet up groups that you can find online. What about joining a “Speak German while chilling in Berlin group” for instance?

Join a tandem

An easy way to improve your German and meet Germans at the same time is to join a tandem. The idea of a tandem is to meet with a German native speaker, preferably, at least once or twice a week. In casual conversations you both get the opportunity to practice the respective language. It is also a perfect way to leave the international bubble and maybe make a German lifelong friend.

 Volunteer

Volunteering is a wonderful way to meet new people, practice your German, and provide help to those in need. Obviously it is also a commitment and people will be depending on you so you should make sure that you have at least two hours per week that you can dedicate to volunteer work.

Try couch surfing

Couch surfing has become way more than just a cheap way to travel. The couch surfing community understands itself as an open and vibrant travel community, where everyone is able to learn from each other and dive deep into the culture of their hosts. The idea of couch surfing is that instead of using hotels, hostels, etc. when travelling, coach surfers look for locals who offer their couch/spare bed room for one or two nights and at best, have time to spend some time with their guests to show them around the city or join them for dinner, etc.

Of course, leaving your bubble requires an active part on your side. For sure,  this is not always easy or convinient, but certainly pays off at the end.

Translation and Sexual Safety

Emily Apter, Professor of French and Comparative Literature at New York University, conducts research in the field of translation with a focus on the untranslatable. This lecture is in regard to her research topic and will be about sex injustice and the fact that concepts like gender pronouns, gender safety and notions of triggering do or do not translate across languages.  Apter will start with the widely known 2015-16 case of New Year’s Eve in Cologne, Germany, involving attacks on women by groups of men stigmatized as migrants.

Here, untranslatability applies not only to cultural difference, gender violence, harm, and insecurity, but to the deeper problem of trying to conjugate “sex” and “safety” in the first place.

Where? American Academy in Berlin, Am Sandwerder 17-19, 14109 Berlin-Wannsee

When? April 29, 2019, 7:30pm – 9pm

Registration and more info about the event here.

 

 

Populism, Fascism, and the Klu Klux Klan of the 1920s

Talk by historian Linda Gordon about the „second Ku Klux Klan“ that formed in the 1920s in the northern states and that expanded its enemies list to include Catholics and Jews. During her talk Gordon will also draw a line to current US politics.

Where? American Academy in Berlin, Am Sandwerder 17-19, 14109 Berlin-Wannsee

When? April 4, 2019, 7:30pm – 9pm

Registration and more info about the event here.

 

The rise of populism and the 2019 European Parliament Election: Causes and implications for Europe

In this talk, Daphne Halikiopoulou, Associate Professor in Comparative Politics at the University of Reading, will address the rise of populism and its implications for the future of Europe.

Where? Hertie School of Governance, Quartier 110, Friedrichstraße 180, 10117 Berlin, Forum, 1st floor

When? April 1, 2019, 2019, 6pm-7:30pm

Registration and more infos on the event here.

The European Union at a crossroads: Brexit, euroscepticism and the rise of opposition

In this talk Catherine E. De Vries, Professor of Political Behaviour in Europe at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, asks how the European union could end up at one of the rockiest periods in its existence and adresses the question <how we move on from here?>.

Where? Hertie School of Governance, Quartier 110, Friedrichstraße 180, 10117 Berlin, Forum, 1st floor

When? March 25, 2019, 6pm-7:30pm

Registration and more event infos here.

 

Open Air Gallery at Oberbaumbrücke

This art event turns the ‚Oberbaumbrücke‘ between Kreuzberg and Friedrichshain into an outdoor art mile. Numerous artists will display their work on Berlin’s distinctive bridge, open for the public to engage with.

The aim of the Open Air Gallery is to encourage a dialogue between the artists and their audience. Visitors of the event also have the opportunity to get involved themselves and are invited to draw and paint on the long canvas that is layed out for everyone who is ready to showcase their talent (or lack thereof).

Where? Oberbaumbrücke (closed for traffic during the event), Warschauer Straße 43, 10243 Berlin

When? May 5, 10am-8pm

Admission: Free

 

Myfest in Kreuzberg

On May 1 we celebrate Labour Day or International Worker’s Day in Germany. Each year on this day, Berlin-Kreuzberg celebrates its very own Myfest, a local street festival. Many people take May 1 as a day to protest, everything from worker’s rights to oppressive policies to immigration reform and, unfortunately, not seldom these protests end in violent riots. Thus, Myfest is a peaceful stand against these riots, against racism, homophobia, fundamentalism and any form of social injsutice. It stands for freedom, tolerance and a peaceful community. The street festival offers lots of food, lots of drinks, lots of music and many cultural offerings, from performance art to comedy, dance or other forms of entertainment.

When? Wednesday, May 1, 2019. From Noon-10pm.

Where? Kreuzberg

Entrances: Oranienstraße/Oranienplatz, Wassertorplatz, Kottbusser Tor/Adalbertstraße, Skalitzer Straße/on the corner of Mariannenstraße and Naunynsstraße/on the corner of Manteuffelstraße.

Admission: free

Cherry Blossom Festival in Berlin’s Gardens of the World

The Gardens of the World (Gärten der Welt) are an outdoor area in Berlin-Marzahn that present a range of garden styles from different parts of the world. Every year, when the cherry blossoms are in bloom, the Gardens invite visitors to the Cherry Blossom Festival, where everything stands under the sign of China, Korea and Japan. What awaits you is Asian dance, music, Japanese drums, traditional craftsmanship and culinary delicacies. Obvisouly, the garden area alone is worth a visit.

When? Sunday, April 15, 2019. Noon-5pm

Where? Main entrance Blumberger Damm 44, 12685 Berlin, Entrance Eisenacher Straße 99, 12685 Berlin, Entrance Tälchenbrücke

Admission: 7€ (3€ reduced)

 

 

Share a Meal at La Lucha

(SG) Let me start by saying that is is probably a good idea to reserve a table at La Lucha, as it seems to get extremely busy. The high demand is justified though, as La Lucha adds a very interesting and, more importantly, very delicious twist to Mexican staples.

Large corn tortilla with baby corn, baby zucchini, shimeji mushrooms and chilie poblano

What seems to become a trend right now – La Lucha orientates itself toward authentic flavors, but takes them up a notch. For example, what would you say about ‚blue corn tortilla with smoked ricotta, melted gouda, crispy parmesan and figs‘? I’d say „yes, please!!“ I feel modern cuisine often has the problem that it wants to be too modern, too pretty and too visual and then forgets all about the flavour. As far as I am concerned, this certainly is not the problem here. The food tastes as good as it looks, if not better.

Guacamole; Tacos with miso glazed sweet potato, cucumber & celery salsa fresca, peanuts and habanero; Blue corn tortilla with smoked ricotta, melted gouda, crispy parmesan and figs

I also especially like the restaurant’s belief in sharing food. To encourage this, every order is served as soon as it is ready, without a schedule in mind. I thus recommend to order a bunch of smaller meals and then share everything once it is on the table (have I mentioned the blue tortillas!? Because they are amazing).

 

In Spanish, La Lucha means “the struggle.” Mexicans are passionate and hard working people, and they use the term La Lucha in a positive way, to refer to their drive to achieve what they believe in. We share the drive and passion of the Mexican people, and strive everyday to bring you an honest, delicious and authentic Mexican experience. La Lucha is our struggle to bring Berlin a taste of the real Mexico.

When? Sunday – Thursday, 6pm – 10pm, Friday & Saturday
6pm – 11pm

Where? Paul-Lincke-Ufer 39–41, 10999 Berlin.

Facebook: La Lucha