Author Archives: theberlinbook

About theberlinbook

Chapters and pages of my Berlin beginning.

Top 5 things in a German Get Well Soon Kit


Hello, everyone!

Boy, am I glad to be back on this side of the internet. It has been two weeks since my last post and the reason for it is.. *drum roll, please* stomach flu.

According to the doctor, it has been going around in Berlin, but I have since recovered. My husband is now on the mend too, and since I am not feeling up to cooking yet, I went for a trip to the grocery store.

For me, the best and fastest way to get better, aside from resting and drinking lots of fluids, is going back to your roots, and by that I mean, eating your favorite childhood food. For me, the taste of Sinigang (Filipino sour stew) helps my body somehow. For my hubby, I bought all of the above, which is what I call the German Get Well Soon Kit.

Here’s what’s in it:

  • Fruits such as apples or grapes
  • Tea – the one above is supposed to soothe the stomach
  • Mashed potato – easy to digest snack
  • Brandt Zwieback – twice-baked bread or rusk for easy digestion
  • Grandmother’s Secret ready-made stew & chicken soup – add some sausages and a few veggies and it actually tastes good

What do you usually eat when you’re feeling under the weather?

So there you have it, a quick post from me, because I just wanted to check in and find out how everyone is doing. Hopefully, you guys are enjoying your summer and staying safe and healthy!

Until next time,

E. R. 🙂


#SBSB1: Stuff Berliners Swear By

Hello, one and all! I want to start a new series and hopefully be able to stick with it, haha. It’s called SBSB or Stuff Berliners Swear By, where I will feature stuff that Berliners I know are die hard fans of.


The first product is my husband’s holy grail skin care product. In fact, it is shockingly (to me, haha) the only skin care product that he uses: Florena moisturizing cream. He said that it’s the only thing that works to keep his skin moisturized especially during cold winters. Now from what I have observed, Germans seem to have mostly dry skin, considering that the climate they’re born in is pretty cold. I, on the other hand, having lived in tropical areas for 20+ years of my life, have combination/oily/sensitive/whatever skin.

I didn’t believe in this Florena cream at first. I thought it would be too heavy for my oily skin, so I didn’t use it. But after my skin kept breaking out during winter because it was too dry, I decided to try it, and now it’s something I also swear by, haha. Of course, the amount you put on depends on the season. During winter, you slather it on like it’s frosting on a cake. During summer, you apply much, much less.

The awesome thing about this cream is that it’s only 1.45 Euros. AH-MAZING.

And it lasts forever.

Just one thing though, I only use it on my face. Even though it says that it works on the rest of the body too, somehow it isn’t as effective. I’m also not sure if this cream is useful when someone is living in tropical countries. The heat and humidity may cause the pores to clog more, but it may help those with normal to dry skin, when a tiny amount is used.

So there you have it, a skin care must-try when you’ve just moved to Berlin, Germany or to a country that has four seasons in it.

What skin care product do you swear by?

I really want to know because I may OR may not be addicted to skin care products, haha.


On learning German AGAIN

Hello, people of the internet! How is everyone?

It has taken me a bit of time to get back into things because, guess what? I’m learning German again. YAYYY…

The question is WHYYY? My mom asked me the same question.

“Aren’t you finished with learning German? Didn’t you already pass the exam?”

“Mommm, it takes time to learn a new language.. sure I passed the exam already, sure I’m done with C1. But I don’t want to forget what I’ve learned.”

“Ohhh.. okay.” Then we started talking about the tomato plants we’ve been growing on our balcony. LOL.

Anyway, that’s why I have not been posting regularly. I just can’t not do anything while I’m waiting to start university. This whole refresher course and continuous learning does not just apply to learning German. It applies to life and any type of skill, such as coding, design, management, etc. Even my hairstylist goes to conferences and competitions. She said she learns about new products and techniques when she goes. Isn’t that awesome?

I’ve also met up with friends here in Berlin recently, and one of the things that keeps coming up is the need to not only develop skills, but also learn new ones. Since I’ve been here, I’ve met so many people who have changed jobs, careers or countries. But it’s really important to up your game now because new technology is being released everyday.

So go ahead and take those night or weekend classes, read books, join a group and keep on learning!

Going to a Doctor in Berlin


One of the first things that expats or newcomers should take care of when arriving is finding a good hairstylist, dentist and most importantly, a family doctor. If you’re lucky, you know someone who knows someone who knows someone. If not, you have to rely on good old Dr. Google to check your symptoms and find the nearest physician.

Now I would like to share a bit of my experience with the medical practices here in Berlin because when I got here, it was all new and scary for me, and I would have liked to know how it is like.

I don’t remember much anymore but the first time I went to the doctor was because of some really bad stomachaches. I doubled over almost every time I experienced them so even though I was reluctant, I wanted to make sure that everything was okay. My husband went with me because my German back then isn’t what it is now.

One thing to remember is that, if it is not an emergency and you don’t have an appointment, which is usually the case, you would have to wait a really long time to see a doctor. Sometimes you’ll be lucky and wait less than an hour but it can take up to two or three hours, depending on the clinic you’re at and how many patients there are that day. The clinic I went to happens to have an online booking system and I love doing everything online so with just a few clicks, you already have a doctor, and the date and time booked. Most of the clinics here don’t have online booking, so you may have to head there directly or give them a call.. in German (mostly). Dun-dunn-duuunnnn.

Another thing to take note of, and this is very important, is that you have to have your insurance card with you at all times. Insurance, unlike in Asia, is mandatory here, so you have to show that you’re insured before they can give you an appointment. Having an insurance also means that you generally don’t have to pay for your visit. Just go up to reception, hand over your insurance card and voilà, like magic, you just need to head over to the waiting room. Of course, you’re actually paying for it monthly. You will also be asked if it’s your first time there, and if it is, you would have to fill out some forms.

On to the actual check-up itself: The doctor was quick, curt and probably took more time rubbing his hands with hand sanitizer than actually talking to me and checking my stomach. While I do appreciate the efficiency, there’s nothing like a family doctor who is really concerned about your well-being. Of course, every experience is different. I’ve also gone to doctors who are extremely nice and made me feel like I’m in capable hands.

After the check-up, he gave me some prescriptions printed on a paper. There’s the red one, which means the medicine you purchase will be discounted and your insurance will cover most of the price. There’s also the green one which means you have to pay in full. The medicine won’t be handed out by the doctor. You have to purchase it yourself at the Apotheke (pharmacy).

Overall, my experience was pretty much okay. One last thing that I can recommend is to check if the doctor or the clinic has reviews on Google. While not entirely reliable, you can at least get an idea of how the service is like. 🙂


E. R.

How was your first doctor experience in Germany/foreign country?



40 Questions: Get to know me Tag 🤓

Hello, everyone! I’ve never done any of these tags but I like to read other people’s answers and for once I am answering them- the “Get to know me” tag! These are just some random questions I found on the internet, haha. I hope you guys enjoy reading and hopefully you will do the tag too. 🙂

1. Were you named after anyone? 
The Philippines is a Christian/Catholic country so most of the names are taken from the Bible. My parents named me Esther, based on queen Esther, but I’ve been called ER since I was young because I have two first names. It’s a Filipino thing, haha.

2. When was the last time you cried?
Just earlier in the day. I chanced upon a clip of blind chef Christine Ha, winner of the Master Chef season 3. I just find her so inspiring. Even with what was considered a disadvantage, she overcame her self-doubt and pursued and excelled at something she was very passionate about. On a side note, doesn’t she look a bit like Michelle Phan?

3. Do you like your handwriting?
Yes, I like my handwriting. Even though it’s not as neat as I would like it to be, some of my friends have said it looked like it was printed off of a computer.

4. Do you have kids?
Not yet, but would love to have some in the coming years. My family once helped take care of a baby when I was around 12. I carried the little one around and took care of her most of the time because I got home early from school and I loved doing it. From then on, there was no question that I wanted kids of my own.

5. If you were another person, would you be friends with you?
Yeah! Although a lot of people think I am snobbish because I don’t talk first, I’m actually very friendly and loud once I’m comfortable with the people I’m with.

6. Would you bungee jump? 
Yes! But not now, haha. There are other stuff I want to cross off my list before I start jumping out of planes.

7. What is your favourite cereal?
I love cereal! As a kid, I had a bowl of cereal for breakfast. That means Frosties, Froot Loops, Koko Krunch, Honey Stars. I want them all, haha!

8. What is your favourite ice cream?
It depends on the weather but my go-to ice cream is chocolate. I also go for more fruity flavours during summer. I’ve never eaten so much ice cream as here in Berlin, haha!

9. Do you untie your shoes when you take them off?
Since I wear sneakers and boots most of the time, I do unzip and untie them before I take them off. How else could anyone take them off?

10. What is the first thing you notice about people?
Uhm, the face? Haha! I think that’s the first thing I notice. And how people behave themselves.

11. What is your least favourite thing about yourself?
I get bored easily. -.- Unless I’m really focused about something or have a goal, then that changes the game, muahahaha!!

12. What colour shoes are you wearing?
Black goes with everything so I always buy black ones. Otherwise, I’d get nude or gray.

13. What was the last thing you ate?
I just had cereal with milk because of question no. 7, haha.

14. What are you listening to right now?
I am listening to the sound of the washing machine and the dishwasher. LOL. Anyone else with me?

15. If you were a crayon, what colour would you be?
Turquoise or Amber! I love warm, beachy type of colours to balance out my pick of black shoes.

16. Favourite smells?
The perfume-y smell of green tea or apple.

17. Last movie you watched?
My Big Fat Greek Wedding. I watched it before but I wanted to see it again with my husband because it sort of shows how my Filipino family is like with weddings and getting married.

18. Who was the last person you talked to on the phone?
My parents! I try to call them at least once a week.

19. Mountain hideaway or beach house?
I want to say both, haha! I have lived near the beach one time and my grandparents have a home near the beach and the mountains so that was like experiencing the best of both worlds. Anyway, if I had to choose one, I’d go for the beach house. Nothing like waking up early, smelling the sea breeze, going for a run and a swim, and then placing some steaks on a grill. Mmmhhh..

20. Favourite sports to watch?
Ahh, none. I’m really not the sporty type so I’m not into any. But I can watch synchronised swimming and ice skating. I love how graceful athletes can be.

21. Hair colour?
My hair is naturally black but it’s sort of black-brown and not jet black. BUT I love having my hair coloured so my hair is usually a very light brown or a balayage from blonde to brown.

22. Eye colour?
Dark brown.

23. Do you wear contacts?
Yes, transparent. I do want to try coloured ones sometime though.

24. Favourite food?
Anything sour or sweet! Sinigang (sour Filipino stew), green mangoes with shrimp paste, chili crab, sambal stingray and my husband’s yummy Bratkartoffeln.

25. Scary movies or happy endings?
Happy endings! But I recently watched Train to Busan and it was a very good movie. Compared to American movies where they always turn off the lighting with scary movies, this Korean movie was well-lit, so you can clearly see the zombies and everything that’s happening. It’s not only the scare factor, it’s a movie that’s full of emotion as well.

26. What colour shirt are you wearing?
A bright fuchsia pink shirt!

27. Summer or winter?
Summerrr!!!!! I would have to say summers in Berlin though, haha. In the Philippines, it’s scorching hot but it can be windy in the afternoons. In Singapore, it can be very hot at 32 degrees and it’s very humid bordering on sticky, but there’s air-conditioning everywhere. In Berlin, summers can be dry up to 30 degrees but still not too hot.

28. Hugs or kisses?
Since I’m tiny, I love hugs! But I love kisses too, haha.

29. Favourite dessert?
Everything!! I can’t decide, haha. I love ice cream, cakes, pies, all of them! SUGAAAHHHH!!

30. Strength training or cardio?
I should do more strength training but I love cardio. Anything that makes me move my butt and dance to the music is heart.

31. Computer or television?
Computer/Laptop! Does anyone still watch TV?

32. What book are you reading right now?
I just finished reading The Longest Ride, a novel by Nicholas Sparks, in German.  O_o

33. What is on your mousepad?
I don’t use one. I use either the Macbook trackpad or a graphic tablet.

34. Any tattoos?
Nope, but I wish I went ahead with getting a tiny one when I was younger.

35. Favourite sound?
The sound of rain because it helps me to relax and a baby’s laugh because it just makes me go all “awww…” 🙂

36. Rolling Stones or Beatles?
I grew up listening to the Beatles so I’m leaning more towards them but I really don’t have a very strong opinion on this.

37. What is the farthest you’ve been from home?
About 9,000 km from Singapore to Berlin, haha. But home is here now in Germany, so hmm.

38. Cats or dogs?
My family always had dogs. I think at one point we had 10 because our dogs had so many puppies. But my husband had a cat so I got to live with one and it was a very different experience from living with dogs, haha. Now I find both cute!

39. What is your favourite drink?
Sake. Last December, my classmates and I had some Glühwein (Mulled wine). I’m not sure what happened but that night I stayed up most of the night vomiting my guts out. I’m not sure if there was something in the wine that made my stomach react badly, but since then, I’ve avoided any type of alcohol except Sake. Somehow it seems to be okay for me.

40. Where are you living now?
Berlin, baby! 😀 That’s why it’s called “The Berlin Book”. 🙂


Berlin Grocery Haul Vol. 1


Hello, everyone!

This is a very different post from what I usually do but I am sometimes kaypoh (Singlish for nosy) about other cultures, and one of the biggest things about someone’s culture is their food. One thing I’ve learned is that even though supermarkets in different parts of the world are the same but they are also different, in a way.

Here’s a sample of my Berlin grocery haul this week: cherries, sushi, mangoes, chilli garlic sauce, muffins and instant coffee. It’s a mixture of asian and western food obviously, haha. The mangoes and chilli sauce are from the asian market. I’m not a big sushi eater but sometimes I crave it. That’s my asian blood, I guess, haha.

Anyway I just wanted to quickly share some of the food available in the supermarkets here in Berlin. Hope you enjoyed it!


E.R. 🙂

Top Tips to Pass the Telc C1 Hochschule Exam

Okay, you guys, as promised, here’s my (sort of) ultimate guide to the Telc C1 Hochschule Exam.

Brace yourselves, it’s going to be a long one.


First of all, I want to let you know that there are no tricks or shortcuts to passing it. It’s all blood, sweat and tears aka HARD WORK. It took me about 18 months or as I mentioned 2,000 hours or more to reach this level of C1.

Compared to my last post, I want to share more about the test format, how many points you get in each section and tips on how to make the studying process easier.


1. LESEN/Reading (90 minutes/70 points)

a. Textrekonstruktion (6 questions/12 points)

You’re given a text of about 400-500 words. Your task is to find out what the next possible sentence is from the 8 choices (a-f) given. Two of them don’t belong. Now, this part of the reading comprehension was the hardest for me because the texts are not taken from a children’s book. They are usually scientific passages which means they will probably include words that you do not know. If you majored in Chemistry and the text is about that, lucky you. But if not, you have to guess like I did, haha. Well, not guess entirely.

There are some clues, of course. For example, there are dates involved. If 1822 is mentioned in the first sentence, guess what comes next? That’s right, the year 1823. There’s usually a chronological order to it so you have to discover the pattern yourself. Also, prepositions, conjunctions and other markers such as nach, aber, diese, etc. are important, so underline them in the text or in the choices. Don’t forget to read and re-read the sentence above and below the blank you have to fill in.

b. Selektives Verstehen. (6 questions/12 points)

You are given a longer text, about 650-800 words consisting of 5 paragraphs, to read. This time you have to choose a, b, c, d, or e, and answer, “In which paragraph does the author express _____?”

The key to this part is to scan and skim the questions and then the text, or read the whole text quickly, and then answer the questions. You have to find the exact sentence the question could be referring to. The answers are usually hidden so you have to read between the lines. Aside from that, what can be difficult is when you don’t know a word in the question, like Vermutungen, Befürchtungen, polemisieren, etc. I suggest that you start building up your vocabulary not only about these things, but in general, because it will really help you.

c. Detailverstehen + Globalverstehen. (11 questions/22 points + 1 question/2 points)

You’re given a very, very long text of about 1,000-1,200 words. It’s usually a story. Your task is to determine if the sentences given are true, false or not stated in the text. Some people find this part the hardest. For me, it was easier than the other two, lol. It really depends on your strengths. The key here is to forget all logical thought. I know, you’re going like, WHAT?!!, haha. What I mean is, if it’s written in the text that the earth is square and that it’s not round, you write that as true, even when in reality, it is round. You also have to make sure that it is stated in the text. If it’s true or false, ask yourself, “Where can it be found exactly?” Mark the sentence (or the area where it should be) and decide if it’s true or false.

After that, there’s one multiple choice question where you have to choose the correct headline for the text.

d. Sprachbausteine. (22 questions/22 points)

This is where your grammar, spelling and vocabulary comes in. You have to know what case you should use, the correct endings, how to spell the word correctly and which word fits, i.e. Nomen-Verb Verbindungen. Thankfully, this one’s multiple choice (a, b, c, d).


2. HÖRVERSTEHEN/Listening (40 minutes/48 points)
Note: You hear the statements, interview and speech only ONCE so practice intense concentration before doing the exam.

a. Globalverstehen. (8 questions/8 points)

You’re given 10 statements but only hear 8 speakers. These speakers will each give their opinion about a topic and you have to find out which statement matches or summarizes their opinion best. The key here is to read the statements right away and mark the keywords. What makes this speaker stand out from the others? Underline that. Another tip is to find out if they’re for or against something. Add a + or – sign next to them. It also helps to organize the statements in your head as best as you could. Oh, this guy talks about vegan chocolates. But this other guy talks about vegan chocolates AND candy. Hmm, this other speaker talks about non-vegan chocolates.

Although this part is only worth 8 points, if you mess up one up, that means you’ve messed up another, so it’s not as easy as you think. I also take down notes throughout the whole Horen exam, so if I get distracted and miss out on what someone said, I get to go back to that unanswered question, review my notes and check. Doing this really helped me out.

b. Detailverstehen. (10 questions/20 points)

Next up, you hear an interview. This goes by very fast, so the minute you finish the first part of Hören, you have to immediately get yourself together and start reading the next set of question and underlining the keywords. When I went through this part, I got so confused that I wasn’t sure which number I was at anymore. That’s how fast it is. You have to be careful because the answers can be sort of similar to each other. Also pay attention to when the answers have nicht or keine in them.

c. Informationstransfer. (10 questions/20 points)

I feel like this last part is the easiest among the three because all you have to do is write down exactly what you hear. The only thing about it is that the speaker can drone on and on about the topic that you will sometimes be distracted and not know if the next answer is over or if he/she still hasn’t mentioned it. Sometimes I thought that the speaker already said the answer but no, it was 5 minutes later. It also helps when you don’t try to understand what the speaker is saying and just focus on the word that comes next. This note-taking exercise will be really helpful during university or in the workplace.

3. SCHREIBEN. (70 minutes/48 points)

You’re given two situations which you have to write about. Pick the one that you know more about so you can write at least 350 words. A tip I can give is to follow the recommended format which is what you’re usually taught in school: introduction, body, conclusion. Aside from that, at the preparation course I attended, they really drilled how a good essay would look like. To sum it up, it looked like this:

a. Introduction. Elaborate on or describe the theme, present the main question, explain what will follow.

b. Body. Give 1 main pro- argument, 2-3 arguments supporting it with examples, AND 1 main contra- argument, 2-3 arguments supporting it with examples.

c. Conclusion. Summarize the points you’ve made in the body and answer the question you presented in the introduction, give final statement based on what you’ve written.

Another tip is to make an outline before writing so you will be clear on the points you want to make. An extra tip is to use the Redemittel (given in the Telc C1 Hochschule books) and not use big words just so you can use them. Make sure it makes sense and that your essay ties up nicely together and stays on topic from start to finish.


4. SPRECHEN/SPEAKING. (16 minutes/48 points)

Yay, you survived the written part of the exam!! Now comes the easy part.. for most people. I’m not the type who likes to talk a lot, I mean hello, that’s why I’m here, lol. I write. Unless we’re really good friends, I like to keep quiet. Anyway, for this part, it’s important that you practice with your exam partner or whoever you can practice your Deutsch with. It’s very, very helpful when you already know who you’re going to be paired with because you have to get used to each other’s voice, accents and the way you speak. My partner was Korean, but thankfully, we were well-acquainted already because we took the preparation course together, so yeah.

a. Präsentation. You know that whole essay format thing that you did for the Schreiben part? Guess what? It is really useful because you can use it for your 3-minute presentation! Follow the same format- introduction, body, conclusion, but don’t write the whole thing, and don’t list every argument. Two arguments and examples should be enough. Speak clearly so your partner can take notes and mention your theme at least twice in your presentation to help him/her out.

b. Zusammenfassung & Anschlussfragen. Now it’s your turn. Listen closely to what your partner says and make sure to write the main arguments. You don’t have to write everything she says, point for point. You just have to show that you understand what she’s saying. You also have to ask a question at the end. This can be a simple question. Here would be a good time to show off your Konjunktiv II (Hättest du, Wäre es, Würdest du.. ?)

c. Diskussion. The final part of the exam is to discuss a quote with your partner. These quotes are deep. In fact, they’re so deep that when I told my husband about the quote we were given in the exam, he was like, “#$@&%*!” No, haha, just kidding. He said that it was a really hard quote and that even he has to give it a few minutes of thought before he can answer.

BUT the good news is that you don’t actually have to understand what the quote means, you just have to show that both of you can have a ping-pong, give and take kind of conversation. Go ahead and ask your partner first how he/she feels about the quote or what does he/she think what it means. And while they ponder, you use those precious seconds to gather all your remaining brain power and think about what it actually means, haha. Once you’ve said enough, the moderator will tell you that the time’s up and you can expect the results in a month.



So there you have it, guys, my guide to the Telc C1 Hochschule exam. In my next posts, I will write about the materials I used to prepare for the exam and the preparation course I attended. Stay tuned for that!

Read more here:
My Telc C1 Hochschule experience
Telc C1 Hochschule: I passed!