Berlin and Dresden

The ‘informal goals of an EF language course’:

Don’t leave without:

  • Eating local
  • Being amazed
  • Exploring your city
  • Get out of town

In addition to that there is also a cultural checklist:

I’m going to stay here in Berlin for two weeks, and on that occasion I’ll do my best to complete all the ‘EF goals’ as well as the cultural checklist. Here is my experiences of ‘Exploring the city’ and ‘Getting out of town’.

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The beautiful church of Dresden in the old city centre

This saturday my friends and I were on an excursion with EF to the beautiful city of Dresden. Dresden is a city in the eastern part of Germany, with stunning old architecture dating hundreds of years back. The school had arranged the trip, so we travelled in a rented bus to and from the city. In Dresden we got a guided tour – first by foot then by bus – before we had four hours of pass time. My friends and I had lunch, bought an ice cream and went to visit the old city church, before we returned to the bus to Berlin.

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The view from the old city, across the river to the new city

On Sundays, the shops in Berlin are closed (with the exception of a few here and there) which took my friends and I by surprise. We had made plans for meeting up and visiting markets, eating lunch and shopping around the town of Berlin, but due to the somewhat cold morning, it got down to two very short visits at two markets. We had a lovely lunch at Vapiano at Potzdammer Platz, before we travelled with the U-bahn to the East Side Gallery. Luckily the weather got a lot better in the afternoon, so we stayed by the Spree and East Side Gallery to relax.

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From the left: Tomáš, Maja, Klára and Marina

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With Monday, our last week of our language courses in Berlin officially started… And it is weird. The time here has passed so fast, and we don’t really want to part with each other, the school and Berlin. Because we have so many things we want to do before we head home, the past few days has been packed with shopping trips and trips to cafées, and it has just made the time fly even faster. Wednesday evening we all went to the Mall of Berlin to have dinner, and to the Sony Center to go to the cinema and watch Ted 2. Even though they dub everything dubbable in Germany, it was possible to watch the movie with it’s original (american) audio, and I must admit that even though I didn’t think it would fit my sense of humour, I actually quite enjoyed it. A lot. I found it hilarious, and (based on the laughter of my friends during the course of the movie) I am pretty confident that I’m not the only one.

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Klára, Tomáš and I in the cinema

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Dinner at the Mall of Berlin on Wednesday

Because our courses ends today, yesterday we had dinner at the Mall of Berlin for the last time… For now at least.

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Panorama of the East Side Gallery

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Cultural checklist: New friends

The ‘informal goals of an EF language course’:

Don’t leave without:

  • Eating local
  • Being amazed
  • Exploring your city
  • Get out of town

In addition to that there is also a cultural checklist:

  • New food
  • New architecture
  • New friends
  • New pastimes
  • New clothes
  • New greetings

I’m going to stay here in Berlin for two weeks, and on that occasion I’ll do my best to complete all the ‘EF goals’ as well as the cultural checklist. Here is one of my first experiences of the cultural goal: New friends.

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Two of my new friends and I are enjoying a Brazilian ‘tapioca brigadeiro’. From the left: Marina from Spain (she lives in Uruguay), me from Denmark and Maja from Sweden.

Every Thursday there is a street-food-market in Markthalle Neun here in Berlin. On that occasion I had talked three of my new friends to go with me to Kreuzberg, to discover what it was all about. Depending on our course and daily schedule, school ends between 3 and 6 PM every day, and then we are free to do whatever we like. We rarely just go home to our host families or the EF residence, and the first thing we say to eachother in the morning is often: So what are we doing today?

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The Street-food-market in Markthalle Neun.

Yesterday we then agreed upon going to the Street-food-market in Kreuzberg. When school ended, we therefore took the U-bahn to Görlitzer Bahnhof and walked to Markthalle Neun. When we stepped inside we were greeted by so many lovely and delicious scents, that we found it hard to pinpoint were we should start. We then decided to visit the stalls one after the other, to see what they had to offer. In the end we had had Spanish Tapas, Chinese Dumplings, Iced Tea from around the world, Italian Bread, Japanese Oyaki-bread, Indian Mango lassi and more. In addition to that, I also bought a piece of vegan chocolate cake, which was amazing!

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My friend Tomáš from the Czech Republic is enjoying his Iced Tea

After approximately one and a half hours in the market, we were full and decided to find our way out through the swarms of people, to head home after a long day.

One of the most interesting parts of my EF course so far has been, apart from living in an unfamiliar city in an unfamiliar country with a local citizen, is getting new friends from around the world. Luckily, with the mixed classes and EF activities, this is widely possible, and I don’t doubt that my new friends and I will continue to have plenty of things to do in the coming – and for us last – week of our EF language course!

Don’t leave without… Eating local

In the handbook you recieve prior to an EF language course, it says that there are certain things you must complete before you can leave. It is of cause not a necessity – you’ll get your certificate nonetheless – but more of a cultural guide to your stay. The things are described in the book as follows:

Don’t leave without:

  • Eating local
  • Being amazed
  • Exploring your city
  • Get out of town

In addition to that there is also a cultural checklist:

  • New food
  • New architecture
  • New friends
  • New pastimes
  • New clothes
  • New greetings

I’m going to stay here in Berlin for two weeks, and on that occasion I’ll do my best to complete all the ‘EF goals’ as well as the cultural checklist. Therefore, here is the first goal: Don’t leave without eating local.
Monday was intro-day at the school, and the new students were taken on a small trip around the center of Berlin. We were shown the nearest S-bahn and U-bahn stations, as well as a couple of the most famous tourist attractions such as Brandenburger Gate, The Holocaust Memoral and the Reichstag Building, before we stopped to get lunch. Normally we have to pay for our own lunch during the schoolday, but this time it was on EF. The lunch featured a traditional Berlin-dish: Currywurst.

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While one of my new friends wasn’t the biggest fan of this dish, I must admit I enjoyed it quite a lot. To my own surprice I enjoyed it enough to find myself heading for that exact same Grill the following day, to get yet another Currywurst. This time though, I had to pay the 2,5 Euros myself, but I didn’t mind.

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This time I had brought my newly-acquired LEGO-mascot with me, and together we ate Currywurst and went for a walk through the Holocaust Memoral before we headed back for the school. On the way we stumpled across a cafe and bought a (really pricey) piece of Apfelstrudel. It was even pricier to eat at the cafe, so we brought the cake back to the school.

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Honestly, I didn’t enjoy the dessert as much as I enjoyed the main dish. It’s wierd because I normally would choose a cake over a sausage any time, but at least I can now get it off my list: I have eaten local. On the other hand I am absolutely positive that this is not the last time a visit the Berlin Grill for a Currywurst!