Amsterdam

A few weeks ago my university shut down for Excursion Week.  Most students take this week as a chance to travel to different cities across Europe. There are also professors who organize educational excursions to different cities to visit different companies. I chose to use this time to do some studying and take a short trip to Amsterdam. Continue reading

Berlin

I recently took a weekend trip to Berlin to meet my aunt, who came to visit for a few days. Last time I travelled to Berlin, I made the mistake of taking the train. Everyone here in Braunschweig laughed when I told them this, and informed me that the bus is much cheaper. This time I took a Flixbus, which is essentially a much nicer version of the Greyhound. It took about three hours to get to the Berlin central bus station. From there, I walked to the nearest subway station and took a train to the nearest stop to the hotel I was meeting my aunt (Shout out to me for not getting totally lost because we all know how directionally challenged I am). I even found a San Franciscan (?) burrito place nearby, where I got three soft tacos. I’ve been craving tacos for the longest, and there are none to be found in my little town here in Niedersachsen (Lower Saxony). I’ve actually had people here tell me they’ve never had tacos before!

Berlin Wall

Berlin Wall

I did a lot of exploring in Berlin, mostly on foot. My poor feet have experienced so many painful moments during my time here in Germany. From our hotel we walked to (and through) the Tiergarten, and ended up at the Brandenburg Gate.

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Berlin Wall

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Brandenburg Gate

From there we kept walking until we ran into an outdoor art market and the Berliner Dom. Then we walked to the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, which is a very interesting and moving place. Our next stop was the East Side Gallery, which is the a 1316 m long portion of the Berlin Wall.

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Berliner Dom

 

Berlin was amazing, and I am so grateful for my wonderful Aunty Natasha, who fed me and hosted me in her hotel during my visit! Also shout out to Simone, who was my travel partner during this trip!

Tot de volgende keer,

Imani


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Hamburg

Hamburg is the second largest city in Germany, and is located in the northern part of the country closer to the coast. A friend of mine recently invited me to go with her and one of her friends for a day trip and tour of the city. It’s is about 3 hours away from Braunschweig, and with our student ID’s we can get there for free. The catch is that we can only take regional transportation within our state, so we had to take about 4 different trains to get there. Nonetheless, I’m always down for a free trip and I’d heard how beautiful Hamburg was, so I was excited.

 

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My friends and I in Hamburg

My friends had registered us for a free tour of the city, and we had about 20 minutes to get from the train station to the meeting point after we arrived in Hamburg. Unfortunately, we spent about 10 minutes looking for the bathroom, which had the longest line ever. We ended up having to speed walk/sprint to the meeting spot, which was 15 minutes from the station. Luckily, they were still there when we arrived.

 

Hamburg seemed like it would be a beautiful place on a warm and sunny day, but unfortunately that was not the day we visited. It was cold, wet, and slightly miserable. The pictures I took were during the few times the sun did peak out for about five minutes. We did have a very good tour guide, and it was free, so I’m not complaining.

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Elbe Philharmonic Hall


Thank you for reading my blog. If you enjoy reading about my experiences here in Germany and in Europe, please consider donating to my PayPal or GoFundMe. Feel free to also send me your mailing address if you’d like a post card from me!

2nd Week of Classes + Easter Excursion

Thursday after class I met with a new friend from Turkey to do some shopping in Braunschweig, then I returned to my room to stuff enough clothes for the weekend in my backpack and caught a train twenty minutes later. I took a train from Braunschweig to Berlin, then spent the night in the airport (~Adventure~) to catch a flight to London 7:00AM. My university was closed Friday to Monday for Easter, and I don’t have classes on Tuesday, so I figured it would be a great time for a trip.

I’ve been to London before and done the usual tourist stuff, so I skipped that this time and just enjoyed a peaceful weekend with my family. I did visit a few places, including Nandos, a bookstore called Waterstones, and few stores on Oxford Street.

 

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Nandos

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Waterstones Bookstore

I left London early Tuesday morning and landed in Düsseldorf, Germany, where I had a layover. I almost missed connecting flight to Berlin because the gate changed, but the flight leaving from the gate I was waiting at was still going to Berlin. As the flight was boarding, I realized that it was not the right airline, and my flight was boarding from a gate in a completely different terminal. As I sprinted (a sprint for me is a fast-paced walk) to my gate, I just knew that the flight had already closed and I’d have to figure out a plan B, but God is good and there were a few others who had also been at the wrong gate. I was yelled at in German by the lady at the desk to run faster because the flight was scheduled to leave two minutes ago.

When I arrived in Berlin, my plan was to save some money and take all the regional trains (as opposed to the high speed trains) back to Braunschweig. Using screenshots from Google Maps for guidance (I don’t have a data plan here in Germany, so my phone is always on airplane mode), I started with a bus from the airport to a stop about two minutes from a small train station. After stumbling around in random directions for about ten minutes, I finally found the station and took a train to another station, where I got another train to a different station and so on and so on. I took at least five different trains and waited anywhere between 20 and 45 minutes in the cold at several different stations. At one point it even started snowing or hailing. I landed in Berlin around 3:00pm and got back into Braunschweig around 10:00pm. Did I save money? Yes, probably about 10 €…However, I did manage to do all of this with very little help from the internet, which is impressive for me.

Overall, I had a great Easter weekend and I am very grateful that I got to spend this time with my family. I’d also like to just take this time to say that my family is pretty amazing. I called Wednesday night to ask if I could spend Thursday to Tuesday with them, and not only did they say yes, but they also bought my ticket and were waiting for me at the airport when I arrived super early in the morning. I complained about not being able the seasoning I usually use in the supermarkets in Braunschweig, so my aunt bought me an all-purpose seasoning and curry powder, as well as chocolate. Thank you Aunty Christine! I’d also like to thank my wonderful big (but debatably shorter) cousin Freya for taking me shopping, letting me bother you, and waking up at the crack of dawn to take me to the airport!

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My aunt gave me chocolate and seasoning to take back to Germany with me

Happy Rizzi House

Today I visited the Happy Rizzi House here in Braunschweig. It’s a very colorful building designed by the American artist James Rizzi. This place definitely stands out in the city, as everything else has a much more historic vibe to it (lots of cobblestone roads, old churches, etc).  Many of the more historic buildings were destroyed during the war, and they rebuilt some to look like they did before.

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A church

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Rathaus/ City Hall

Bureaucracy

You need a signed and stamped document for everything here. I can’t attend orientation for my host university without proof of registering with the city, a German bank account, health insurance, liability insurance, etc. My first mistake was trying to do things in the wrong order, and I had no clue there was an order. Before you can open a bank account, you need a Meldbescheinigung (proof that you have registered your address with the city), but you can’t get the Meldbescheinigung without a copy of your lease. You also have to schedule an appointment to open a bank account. After getting a bank account, you can get health insurance, but you have to bring proof that you’ve done all the aforementioned things. Then you get liability insurance, but they mail you the proof of that and give you a CD with all the important information on it in the meantime. Fun fact: My laptop doesn’t even have a CD drive, but I was way too exhausted to explain this, so I just took the CD.

But all in all, I’m super happy to be here. The city is beautiful, I’ve met some very nice people,  and I’ve gotten around everywhere by myself so far and almost completely in German. The lady who enrolled me in health insurance said, “Ihr Deutsch ist fast perfekt!” (English: “Your German is almost perfect.”)

-Bis bald!