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.

Festival of Lights

Serveral landmarks, historical sights, streets and squares in Berlin will be covered in light projections and video art (hotspots for this are Brandburger Gate, TV tower, Berlin Cathedral, to name but a few). The Festival of Lights will take place for the 15th time this year.

When? October 11 - October 19, 2019, 7pm - Midnight 
Where? all over Berlin

lgbtq+ Neighborhoods in Berlin

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 developing 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 obviously changed considerably 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  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.“

lgbtq+ in Germany/Berlin

Coming to a foreign country as a member of the lgbtq+ community can be a little daunting at first. At home you might feel seen and safe and cared for by the community around you. So moving to a different country can be stressful, because you don’t really know what to expect. It can also be exciting though and an opportunity to find out more about yourself. To give you a little support along the way, we have created a small lgbtq+ section on this blog to tell you more about the queer scene in Berlin, at Freie Universität, where you can find help should you need it, etc. You find it all under Life AbroadQueer Berlin.

Generally, Germany is amongst the most lgbtq+ friendly countries in the world in terms of civil rights. „Not only are homosexual relations legal, but same sex partnerships have been recognized on a national level since 2001 (ILGA). In August 2009, second parent adoption rights were granted to homosexual couples […]” (Shalosky, LGBT Student Guide for Education Abroad) and same-sex marriage has finally been legal since October 1, 2017. Berlin itself has become a hub for gay culture  with a thriving lgbtq+ social scene (numerous clubs, organizations and magazines) and you can expect to see open expression of different sexual orientations. This being said, it is always a good idea to carefully negotiate each setting and „test the waters“ to ensure safety, because it is possible to experience mixed messages about the acceptance of lgbtq+ individuals.

Down Under Berlin – Australian & New Zealand Film Festival

The program is full of visual impressions from the fields of art, music and performances from Australia and New Zealand. Every year, visitors choose their favorites in the categories „Best Film“ and „Best Short Film“.

When? September 26th - September 29th.
Where? Kino Movimento, Kottbusser Damm 22, 10967 Berlin.
Admission: 8€

Lollapalooza Music Festival

The U.S. festival brought to Berlin.

Headliner this year are: Twenty one pilots, Kings of Leon, Marteria & Casper, Swedish House Mafia und Kraftklub. Also: Rita Ora, Khalid, Kungs, Martin Garrix, Underworld, Bausa, Hozier, Dendemann, Scooter, Billie Eilish, Olli Schulz, Euxmar, Parcels, Matoma, Lari Luke, Skiy, Alan Walker, Rex Orange County, Courtney Barnett, UFO361, The Faim, Don Diablo, Roosevelt, Big Joanie and Claptone.

When? September 7th - 8th, 2019.
Where? Olympiapark

Berlin Art Week

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 11 - September  15, 2019.
Where? At participating galleries all over Berlin.

Use „bike swapping“ to explore Berlin on two wheels

Lately, it feels as if Berlin is making a real effort to become a bit more bike friendly. More and more bike lanes are set up and one seems to find a sharable bike on every corner. So what better way is there to explore the city than by bike!? You defnitely get a better sense of how Berlin’s different districts are connected (in contrast to a you that is mostly living underground) and you even get a daily workout in. If you don’t have the stamina to look for your own cheap bike at a flea market (and also don’t want to go through the hassle of reselling your bike when you leave) you can use a bike swapping service that allows you to use a bike for an extended period of time, before you can get rid of it fairly easy. The big advantage of a bike swapping service in comparison to a bike sharing service is that you are actually owning the bike for the duration you are using the service. Also! Swap bikes are way more comfortable, since they are regular bikes and not funny looking space ships (which could be said about most of the sharable bikes. Of course, you can try and judge them yourself).

S w a p f i e t s

The swapping service that many people use in Berlin is Swapfiets. You can read more about their service, how it works exactly (FAQ), their bikes, and how you can sign up here. To give you a quick overview, this is how it works: you get a bike subsciription that you are able to cancel monthly. For example, you want to use your bike for three months. You sign up and then cancel your membership at the end of your second month. A monthly subscription costs 15€/month (student price, no deposit or start-up costs). Included are a fully equipped bike, a lock and a full swapping service. Swapping service means, if anything is broken or doesn’t work anymore, your bike is swapped for a new one within 24 hours. This way you always have a full functioning bike at hand.

Visit Europe’s biggest Jewish cemetery

The Jewish Cemetery in Berlin-Weißensee was set up in 1880 by Berlin’s Jewish community. It covers around 42 hectars and thereby is the biggest Jewish cemetery in Europe that is still in good condition. Since the 1970’s it is under preservation orders.

If you have a sunny afternoon to spare this is a nice place for taking a walk (it can also be very pretty during the winter months, provided that there is snow). Although you obvisouly will be wandering a graveyard, I wouldn’t classify this as a very sad place; you are rather hit by a mystical and even kind of joyful (if you can call a graveyard joyful) tranquility. Big trees portrude from the grounds and create an enchanted atmosphere for the cemetery’s visitors.

Where? Herbert-Baum-Straße 45, 13088 Berlin Weißensee
Opening Hours: Monday-Thursday 7:30am - 5pm, Friday 7:30am - 2:30pm, Sunday 8am-4pm, closed on Saturdays and Jewish public holidays.

Watch the trailer for the documentary about the cemetery here.

Living Room Feels at Frollein Langner

As is the case for so many of Berlin’s bar establishments – when you enter Frollein Langner for the first time, you don’t quite know if you have just stepped into your Grandma’s living room or have found a cool bar in Berlin Neukölln. Here, the latter is the case. Fun fact: next to the many cosy sofas and sofa chairs, a bath tub also belongs to the bar’s interior. However, due to the numerous comfortable seating options, we think it should be neglected. They have a good selection of alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks and even small food options (which are cooked at the place next door).

They sometimes do special events, like pub quizzes and music events. For this keep up to date on their Facebook page.

Where? Weisestr. 34, 12049 Berlin, Neukölln
Opening Hours:  Monday-Friday 4pm-2am, Saturday-Sunday Noon-4am, Public Holidays 4pm-Midnight.