My Berlin life: Settling into a routine

I’ve been in Berlin for just over a week, and I’m almost finished with my first week of German intensive courses! The “real” classes won’t begin until October, and until then we have three weeks of intensive German lessons and more orientation stuff most afternoons. Here’s what a typical day looks like for me at this point.

7 or 7:30-8 a.m. – wake up, eat breakfast, shower.

At first I was eating a very typical German breakfast of sliced bread and cheese (no meat slices for this girl!) and yogurt, but I recently bought a box of chocolate Musli which is delicious and more filling anyway. The shower is a bit complicated because this is a very old apartment without a freestanding shower – you have to hold the showerhead THE WHOLE TIME you’re in there, and be careful not to spray water everywhere since the glass door only goes about halfway around the bathtub. I am still working on mastering this particular art form.

8:30 a.m. – Walk to the nearest S-bahn station, Schönhauser Allee, to catch the train to the center of town.

I’m getting truly spoiled on German public transit. Whenever I see that the next train is still 8 minutes away, I get a little upset, because I’m not used to having to wait more than 2 or 4 minutes. I really love taking the train everywhere. We all got student transportation passes at the beginning of the semester that let us travel unlimited anywhere in the city for a one-time fee of 50 euro. I love riding the aptly named Schnell-Bahn (fast train) to and from school every day, and watching all the busy people walking around the station during “rush hour.” I’ve affectionately nicknamed the S42, which I take every morning, the “Tokio train” because it can be incredibly crowded in the mornings, although never in the afternoon.

9-10:30 a.m. – Deutschintensivekurse, or German intensive courses. It’s really not that much different than a college German class, except the professor actually is German and we don’t have very much homework. And everything’s mostly review, I haven’t really learned anything major for the first time since we’ve started. I’m excited to be taking this class at Humboldt University – in the physical building if not an actual Humboldt class. Most of our sessions have been at the IES center so far, which is a nice facility but it’s only America students.

11:11:30 a.m. – Pause, or break for a half hour. Usually I eat a yogurt or boiled egg or some small snack during this time to tide me over before lunch. Popular time to grab a coffee, too.

11:30-1 p.m. – the home stretch of German class. Yeah, I have 3 1/2 hours of German every day. I better learn something 🙂

1 p.m. – 2:15 – break for lunch. Usually I grab something cheap off the street – a sandwich from a bakery near Friederichstraße, a slice of pizza, or if I’m very hungry a plate of pasta from a cafe. Sometimes we chill at the IES center and talk about what we’re going to do the rest of the day.

2:15 – ? Some days we have orientation sessions in the afternoon. Some days we don’t. We’ve had things like housing orientation, goal setting, and cultural orientation so far. I’m looking forward to touring the Humboldt library next week.

Evenings we are free to do what we want. My host person is gone a lot so I’m usually trying to make something for dinner. I stop by the discount market on the way home a lot to pick up something to make. So far I’ve been eating a lot of pasta and salad, though I’m trying to expand my range of cooking skills.

We’re also free to go to bars and clubs, as the drinking age here is 18, however most bars do not even open until 21:00, or 9pm, and things don’t really get going for another couple of hours. You can forget going to a major club or party before 1 a.m., since nothing really starts before then. Needless to say, I haven’t been going out much on week nights. Some of the girls in our group go shopping a lot at flea markets and thrift stores and H&M, which are all generally pretty cheap, and is a fun way to get together. Unfortunately I didn’t really plan my week well and while they were going out I was staying home and doing laundry and cooking dinner… Now I’ve got clean clothes and leftovers for days and everyone else seems to be staying home! Oh well, I’m sure I’ll make more friends as time goes on. It gets a little boring being alone at my apartment but I enjoy the privacy too.
I wanted to post some lovely pictures of my apartment for you, but I only have a 50mm lens for my camera so everything looks kind of zoomed in and you can’t see very much… If anyone knows where I can buy a cheap 18mm lens (preferably used or refurbished!) in Germany, please share! It’s difficult to take pictures when things are so close together in the city without a shorter lens.


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