US student going to be living in Germany for a month would like some guidance.
June 15, 2011 7:42 PM   Subscribe

I'm going to be living in Berlin for a month, studying. I'm a USA traveler looking for information! Any travel savvy mefites and/or Germans want to help me out?

Pretty self explanatory. I've never been out of the country before, and so this is a pretty big step for me. I'll be living with a host (family, person, I'm not sure), continuing my study of German. I'm sure my hosts will help me out quite a lot, but I have some questions before I head out. I will probably take the opportunity to travel during the weekends. Are there train or bahn passes that I should buy in America? I heard something from a friend about passes that have to be bought in the country of origin. I'm not sure about that though...

I'll be there for all of July. What's going on? Any festivals?

Where should I eat? What should I see?

Tell me anything else you think I should know.

Vielen Dank!
posted by makethemost to Travel & Transportation around Germany (5 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
FWIW, I studied in Munich for 5 months about 2 years ago, but had the opportunity to spend a little time in Berlin.

As for passes to buy in America, some people buy Eurorail passes which give a certain number of days of travel in certain countries. Sometimes they're a bargain, sometimes they're tricky to make it worth your while. Most Länder (German equivalent of states) have passes that allow a certain number of weekend travelers for a discount rate, which is great if you have friends. This may be less worthwhile in a Land that is significantly smaller than Bavaria like Munich is. If traveling alone, train tickets aren't terribly expensive, especially regionally.

Things to eat:
-Currywurst will be pretty much unavoidable. Some like it, some don't. Not all are created equal.
-Get up early and go to one of the plentiful bakeries and get fresh-baked interesting bread, then eat it with some cheese.
-All the good Middle Eastern food

Restaurants to try:
-Angry Korean Fried Chicken (haven't eaten here, but sold on just the website alone)
-White Trash Fast Food (Have eaten here. Come for the ridiculous Tarantino-style atmosphere, stay for the delicious goat cheese burgers and other stuff)

Things to do:
-Sadly a crowd stampede at Love Parade last year means no more for the July Electronic Music festival.
-If you manage to stay until August 5th, the Berlin International Beer Festival happens August 5-7th.

Above all I would say that German people can often seem reserved or shy to a person used to American habits, but once you reveal yourself as friendly and thoughtful, I've found them to be welcoming and a lot of fun. But good luck ever seeing a German senior citizen smile.
posted by JauntyFedora at 8:45 PM on June 15, 2011

Tyler Cowen, blogger at Marginial Revolution, spent last summer in Berlin and came up with some great blog posts about the city. I think my favorite was How to eat well in Berlin. Here's the page where he started blogging about being in Berlin.

One of the books that helped me survive the year I work in Germany as an Au-Pair was Hyde Flippo's The German Way. Highly recommended, although, of course, there are plenty of generalizations in it that may not apply to your host family or Berlin culture in particular.
posted by Gori Girl at 9:29 PM on June 15, 2011

(try to) go to Berghain
Hang out in Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg

That's literally all I did in Berlin for the 5 days I was there. Oh, also a lot of gay bars.
posted by azarbayejani at 8:03 AM on June 16, 2011 [1 favorite]

Unless you plan on travelling outside Germany much, don't bother with a Eurail pass (which must be purchased prior to arrival). Rates on passes for foreigners from the Deutsche Bahn website are just as discounted, and they will arrive by post within a day or two. You just have to show a passport when you get it validated upon its first use.
posted by matlock expressway at 9:01 AM on June 16, 2011

I'm an American living in Berlin.

This is a monstrously amazing huge city with so much going on. You'll only be here for a month. Don't travel outside Berlin, because a month isn't even enough time to see this city. If you travel outside of it you'll spread yourself too thin.

Berlin is a great city for biking. Secure yourself a cheap throw-away bike for 40 euros and you'll learn the city and see it that much faster.

This place has some brutal winters, but in the Summer its paradise, and you're lucky you're here during the Summer. Make sure to hang out at the newly opened Tempelhof park, and Kreuzkölln is really wonderful right now. The areas that are generally "hapenning" are Kreuzberg and northern Neukölln, and to a lesser degree Friedrichshain, Prenzlauerberg, and Mitte.

I can't really think of more specific advise to give you, as you didn't specify your interests, but feel free to memail me.
posted by tempythethird at 4:44 PM on June 16, 2011

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