I’ve been living in Berlin for about 2 months now, and so far, I’ve had some of the most amazing experiences of my life. It is definitely one of my favourite cities in the world, and the more time I spend here, the more that is reinforced.
At first I was a bit nervous. The idea of hopping on a plane and flying across the world, knowing I would be spending a whole semester here, made me slightly anxious, but that feeling subsided pretty quickly.
The main reason I decided to go to Berlin was to experience the very open-minded culture, music scene and bustling night life, and I have not been let down yet. I was lucky enough to find an apartment in Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg, which is an area amongst it all. It’s full of great cafes, bars, restaurants and clubs, all while not being too far from my university.
Our apartment on a sunny afternoon.
It is a very multicultural city, so there are some amazing places around to grab a bite to eat. The large Turkish community in my area means there are kebab stands on nearly every corner; a cheap, delicious meal that goes perfectly with the busy Berlin nightlife.
There are an almost endless amount of bars and clubs around Kreuzberg, so no matter what day or time, there will be somewhere open, full of people, great music and great beer. I’ve had some great times watching live jazz music, sharing drinks in a cosy bar, and dancing till the early morning in some of the worlds bests clubs. There are record stores, art galleries and second hand clothing shops all over the place. The arts are very much ingrained in the culture here and it is a really inspiring place to be.
My room mate and I checking out a local record store.
I’ve had the opportunity of meeting many new people from all over the world through my university, Hochschule für Technik und Wirtschaft (HTW Berlin). A free German intensive course was given in the lead up to the semester, and it turned out to be a lot of fun. I got to know many of the people on exchange at HTW, while picking up a couple of phrases and keywords in German. The lecturers here have all been great so far, and there has been a big emphasis on group work, making the whole learning environment very different to what I’m used to, considering you get to share your knowledge, ideas and experiences with people from a very different background to you.
Another benefit of doing exchange in Germany is that it is so central to Europe. I’ve already travelled to Iceland, Hungary and the Netherlands, and have plans to go to Spain, France and Switzerland next month. With flights and bus rides going for as cheap as €20, it’s impossible not to do a few weekend trips around Europe!
Now that Spring has finally arrived and the weather is warming up, the city is becoming even more alive. Walking around the Kreuzberg area you will see people having picnics and hanging out around the parks and sprees, the outdoor seating at every restaurant and café is full to brim with Berliners and outdoor music events pop up all over the place (also known as Open Air’s here in Berlin.) The positive vibes are infectious! If you’re thinking about going to Berlin on exchange, just do it. You won’t regret it!
Angelo Farinha 11196413